6pm. Anytime Fitness. I walk in, already anxious. Maybe a drink of water will help, I think, as I move to the bubbler. This is where I discover a new poster for the Mayor’s Challenge–it’s me, my name and “before” photo, plastered to the pinboard right at eye level. All I can picture are the buff young things adding water to their protein powder while staring right at the most unflattering full body picture of me ever released in public.
This is already not going how I imagined.
“So, you thought you hated me last time….” This is how Kevin The Trainer greets me. I briefly imagine what it would be like to run screaming from the gym, move to a new city and start over. I give up on it–KTT, Destroyer of Dreams, would surely catch me before I even made it past the ellipticals.
Today I get to do a version of squats holding a medicine ball and sitting down on a box. I like the sitting down part. I’m good at the sitting down part.
I also learn to do something called a Russian Twist. After 20 of them, I suddenly understand all the stereotypes about vodka.
My first cardio interval is jump rope. KTT has made sure to tell me, “If you can talk, you’re not working hard enough.” He likes to ask me questions and make conversation during my intervals. It’s a lot like going to a talkative dentist. My vocabulary has become limited to the following, “ok” “uh-huh” and a very ironic “awesome.”
“Your next interval won’t be so awesome,” declares Kevin The Trainer.
He was informed at the start of this that I’m a bit of a Puker. I thought I was providing a warning. He clearly sees it as a challenge.
Turns out the last set of cardio intervals is shuttle runs. Outside. In the parking lot. The busy parking lot. Busy with people. Strangers. Looking at me.
Did I mention Anytime Fitness is two doors down from Toppers Pizza? Carryout customers stare as I run back and forth between the parking lines while Kevin stands there smugly with his stopwatch. I should be proud, instead I want to scream at them, “I hope you feel bad and your pizza tastes bad!” Only we all know it doesn’t, and I don’t have enough air anyway.
Before my last interval, Kevin asks how I’m doing.
“I hate you so much right now.” I say between ragged breaths. He just laughs. Kevin is a twisted cookie.
Finally, the hour ends, and we cool down with a casual walk around the parking lot. He gives me a pep talk about sticking with it, and getting out what I put in. I can’t decide if I want to hug him or punch him in the face. Since I no longer have any conscious control over the muscles for either act, I settle for a nod. Nodding doesn’t hurt. Yet.