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By John Addyman

   Okay, so I joined a gym.
   There were good reasons: I’m fat, I’m old, I’m out of shape, and my doctor started my last exam by taking one look at me and saying, “Tsk, Tsk, Tsk…”

   I have insurance coverage that offers gym membership as a benefit – and a great benefit it is – and I’ve had it since February.
   But it took me until last month to join up.  I have a thing about gym equipment…and gyms.
   I chose a gym close to home in Newark, and got especially interested when I found out there was a “Spunk 101” class for gym novices. I signed up for the class, which was taught by Brian Baker, a young guy who looked like a walking advertisement for the positive things a gym could do for you. 
   Brian, it turned out, was great for the job because he has an abundance of patience. I had never been in a gym, never used a treadmill or any kind of fitness machines. And every machine he showed us intimidated me.  He had to do a lot of explaining to get my comfort level up.
   Take the treadmill, for instance. These things are programmable and can go fast and slow, raise an incline for you to go up, and monitor all kinds of things. I was concerned about three things on the treadmill – getting thrown off the back, somersaulting over the front when it stopped too fast, and walking off one of the edges onto a neighboring machine. Brian had to show me how the thing worked three times.
   My dear wife does not have such issues. She gets on the treadmill and opens a magazine to read while she does her 45 minutes on the machine. If I were to do the same thing, I’d soon get distracted enough that I’d be in a pile, wrapped in one of the treadmill belts or in a heap on the floor behind the machine. On Saturday, while I was watching the Michigan-Ohio State game, I almost did just that, stepping off the belt accidentally.
   I have problems with my shoulders. So, I use several machines in the gym that build up shoulder muscles, but there’s one I’d really like to try, a big pulley machine. It looks exactly like something that could do me a lot of good, fast.
   But it also looks like something that if I made a mistake, the pulleys would snap me into the wall like slingshot, leaving me in a big blob, sliding down to the floor. I’ve never even gotten close to that machine.
   When you’ve never been in a gym and have never done strength-and-conditioning exercises, you feel a lot like the skinny kid in the old comic book ads – the 98-pound weakling that got sand kicked in his face at the beach. On my Spunk 101 class with Brian, a woman tried all the machines right before I did…and in every case, I had to take weight off the machine so I could move it when she was done. I was a 180-pound old guy getting embarrassed by a middle-aged grandmother-type.
   There are, I’ve observed, four kinds of people in the gym.
   First, there are the guys like Brian and my friend Jason DeWind, who look like they can walk through a fairly thick brick wall. I asked Jason how long it would take before I started to look like him. “Tomorrow,” he said. Jason is a nice guy…and a liar. Those are the guys who attack the machines and beat them up every day.
   Second, there are the young women who are already in fantastic shape who make the rest of us look like we’re in a different time dimension. They get their svelte little bodies on the elliptical machines and work their legs at 75 mph until the machines cry “Uncle!”
Having one of them heating up the machine next to me makes me feel 100 years old.
   My 25-year-old daughter Mary Kate joined me in the gym on Saturday, hopped on the elliptical machine, and starting zooming along – boing! boing! boing! went her legs. It was impressive.
   Third, there are the guys and gals who look good now and are in the gym to keep what they have looking like it does. They’re casual and friendly, use the equipment at a pace that I can reasonably aspire to, and are my idols. If I get to where they are, I’m cooking.
   Fourth, we have the people like me and thankfully, there are a lot of us. We’re there to take off pounds, get into some kind of shape, and to feel better overall. We’re a little older, a little rounder, and a little more modest in our goals. I figure if I can finish my workout and walk out the door remembering my name, I’m doing well.
   I wish I had started using a gym a long time ago. I see people in the Newark gym I know from school districts and municipalities and businesses and county government – all of them looking good. Now I know why. Maybe one day, they’ll think the same of me.
   Until then, please don’t kick sand in my face.


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6 Comments to "OUT OF MY HEAD...Nov 29 10"

  1. Anonymous Said,

    who cares

    Posted on Mon Nov 29, 03:48:00 PM EST

  2. Anonymous Said,

    Have fun and be well.

    Posted on Mon Nov 29, 06:46:00 PM EST

  3. Gil Burgess Said,

    Personally I try to get my exercise just doing "stuff" that has to be done---like raking our huge yard or shoveling snow (soon) or walking to the post office or library instead of driving. Maybe it's not as effective as following a gym-type regimen, but, either way we're doing what we're supposed to be doing: getting exercise! So, keep it up and keep up the good reporting and interesting commentary!

    Posted on Mon Nov 29, 09:39:00 PM EST

  4. Gerry Benedict Said,

    I am with Gil! The yardwork is a greener/cheaper solution to fitness.

    Posted on Tue Nov 30, 08:54:00 AM EST

  5. Anonymous Said,

    Oh dear brother, you should have started this years ago.

    Posted on Tue Nov 30, 08:11:00 PM EST

  6. Anonymous Said,

    keep us posted. give us a update in three months. Many of us join but, do not make it even that long.

    good luck

    Posted on Wed Dec 01, 10:05:00 PM EST


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