I hope everyone is getting some exercise. We are hunched over in our chairs most of the day, and that can really take a toll on our bodies. I have been slacking lately, and I really need to get back in the gym. In my case, I often think I am in shape, but soon realize that I am not once I start exerting myself.
Case in point, at the age of 16, I won a free week to a popular health and fitness spa in Miami. At that time, there was no way I could afford to join a gym. I was so excited because I had heard so much about this place. This was my chance to not only begin what I thought was my bodybuilding career (chuckle, chuckle), but it was my chance to check out (and impress) “the chicks.” I woke up early my first day, and put on my best “chick-impressing” workout outfit. This consisted of a really tight tank top and those real short gym shorts that no one wears today because they look ridiculous. I had to wear the tank top because I was trying to show off my 11-inch biceps, and of course the two black hairs that barely showed on my chest. I thought it would be smart not to eat because I would run the risk of showing an unsightly bloated stomach (that was a mistake).
I arrived at the gym early, proudly flashed my one-week free card, and signed in. I was assigned a trainer that would give me a tour of the gym and help start my first workout. He was about 6 feet 3 inches tall, and looked like he had stared in a Tarzan movie at one point in his life. I was only 5 feet 4 inches and quickly approaching the 5 foot 6 inch mark that I reside at today. He starts the tour in the bathroom, which was really impressive with its sauna and steam room. That was all nice, but my focus was to get out on the main floor to pump some iron and show off. You can’t keep a peacock with his feathers locked up in a bathroom!
Tarzan walks me out to this pre- workout room with a few fancy programmable stationary bikes. They were way beyond their time in the 80s. He said, “Before I take you into the real gym, you need to warm up for 10 minutes on this bike. Keep the speed above 20, and I’ll be back in 10 minutes.” I didn’t really expect this, and I surely didn’t expect the “ab-crunching” class to be in this room (which consisted of 15 to 20 girls in really good shape).
I can’t really impress anyone on a bike, and I had no intention of keeping up the speed for 10 minutes. But I thought I better pretend to do what he says, or I will never make it to the weight room. He pushed a few buttons, and told me to start pedaling. I reached 20 on the speedometer, and he started walking away. I immediately slowed down, and in an instant this loud siren goes off in the room.
It might as well have been a fog horn with all the attention it drew. The whole ab class stopped crunching just to look at me. He turned around and told me I had to keep it at 20 or the alarm will go off! What? Ok, no big deal, I can do this. I couldn’t afford the embarrassment of going under 20 again. About three minutes into my 10 minute warm-up, I started to lose my vision. I was pretty sure I was dying, but I would choose that over facing the foghorn. My heart was pounding out of my chest and my skin was cold and clammy.
After the 10 minutes was up, I barely made it off the bike. I felt my way along the wall to get back to the bathroom because the only thing I saw was a white haze and black spots. I collapsed on a bench near the sauna and vaguely remember Tarzan trying to revive me. He gave me some orange juice and made me stay in there until I felt better (that took about two hours by the way).
Needless to say, I quickly learned the importance of a good breakfast and staying in shape. I also learned my lesson on when I should and shouldn’t be a peacock. Even now at 47, I always do a 10 minute warm up on the bike as a reminder. Ok, I’ll admit it; I still wear a tank top.
Have a great week…