Monday, August 9, 2010

Monique and Andrew Join The Gym

We just joined a gym.

I know. It’s reprehensible that someone in my position (perennial refudiator of physical activity) would do such a thing. Of course, the fact that I’ve put on a few extra pounds is compelling. But it’s not all about that. Really. Well, there is that. I’d like to be able to shop for clothes without having to look in the  maternity section.

It’s the water. I wanted a pool to go to that was often uncrowded and was close to my house. This particular gym has one. I know, because I drive by and the pool is often empty, holding nothing but water. Not so sure I want to be seen from the street when I’m doing laps, but whatever. Who really cares? Swimming is the one sport I never totally sucked at, and I do like water. It’s just not as breathable as air, or I’d be a total convert.

So we sign up last week, both charming husband and I, since he has a goal also. Naturally the first thing they do is set us up for an appointment with a personal trainer because, well, they want to sell us more services. We know this, but we show up anyway, to hear what they have to say.

Before going, a friend of mine reminds me that what they tell me isn’t necessarily the truth – I’m not fantastically fat and out-of-shape, which they will no doubt tell me, but that instead I’m fabulous and beautiful. See why I love my friends? They’re so nice to me. So I write that down on my palm, just for a reference when the personal trainer starts trying me feel like bad. Not that they can, not with this knowledge.

I’m sure personal trainers are lovely people. Really. I wouldn’t know, because I have approximately thousands of friends, not one of whom is a personal trainer. But I’m sure they are.

As fits the job description, the personal trainer is perky and cheerful and built like . . . well, a personal trainer. I’d hate her, if I wasn’t too busy remembering I’m better than her. The first thing we do is fill out a questionnaire, which has amusing questions such as:

What is your weight goal? (I put down, “to weigh less.”)

Do you have any special events you want to get in shape for? (“old age,” which I think counts as a very special event.)

Do you have any medical conditions we should know about? (“I’m horribly phobic about exercise and am likely to lash out at the first person who suggests I do some.”

We finish and then she asks us more questions. She starts by asking what we do, and when I say I’m an accountant and a writer she tells me she was published when she was very young, and somehow I manage not to say, “So what? I was published BEFORE YOU WERE BORN, so it’s not like you’re BETTER THAN ME.” I’m not saying personal trainers bring out my competitive side, but you know how it is. 

Then the questions move on to our current habits: How many times do we have fast food each week? (Several.) How many times a week do we go to restaurants? (Several, depending on what week we’re talking about, but we tone it down for her so we don’t kill her with the shock.) How much do we spend on entertainment? What do we eat, when we do eat? (We like only a little about our great eating habits.)

And then we get The Speech. You know The Speech. The one where she tells us how we’re likely to die within a week or two if we don’t get some exercise. How we have to work each set of muscles on a rotating and alternating basis. How we need to lose weight and built muscle. (Well, we did walk in of our own accord, so we were pretty sure we weren’t there for an entirely good time.) Perky personal trainer drew pictures, and charts, and had arrows pointing here and there, and pyramids and Venn diagrams. It was all quite entertaining.
We professed knowledge of what she was saying, but mostly we were looking at the pretty pictures and thinking about what we were going to have for lunch.

Then she showed us a few things and made us use a couple of machines. While she wasn’t looking I mouthed to charming husband, “There’s no way in hell I’m doing all this.” He just smiled at me. I have no objection to using machines, it’s the personal oversight I’m not interested in. For that matter, I have no objections to sitting on a recumbent bike cycling away while listening to my ipod either. I think my disdain of authority precludes letting a personal trainer boss me around.

I just wanted to use the pool, for crying out loud.

That was my same problem with the military, but I was young and gullible then and they bossed me around plenty.

And then she presented us with the various price points, with more talk about how IMPORTANT it was that someone KNOWLEDGEABLE monitor us and tell us what to do. She showed us the price chart and together we withheld our collective gasp of “you’ve got to be kidding!” It was more than our grocery budget for the month – perhaps that’s the point. If one doesn’t eat, one may lose weight. We told her we’d think about it and get back to her. She wanted to know what our objections were so she could respond and overcome them. I’m familiar with this particular tactic, so we didn’t respond to that challenge at all. We smiled nicely, and told her it was nice to meet her, and thank you so much for all the information, but that we’d get back to her.

And I’m certain we will. Someday. Or not.

In fact, let’s go with not. Tomorrow we’re going for a swim. Without instructions. 

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