Saturday, February 21, 2009

evil torture machines

In my last post I went into excruciating detail about my insecurities vis-a-vis the gym.  What prompted this was the feeling of settling into a rut.  Don't get me wrong--a rut that includes 50+minute stationary bike rides combined with 20+minute treadmill jogs 3 times a week is a good rut.  But still, even though I had been increasing intensity and time, I thought it was probably time to start thinking about something besides cardio.

What is there besides cardio?  That's what many weight-loss peeps would have you think.  I worked at TV Guide for a while, and while I was there they put out a special issue of the Top 50 or so bodies in primetime.  I remember that Jennifer Garnder (Sydney Bristow!!!) was on the cover, and that there was a quote inside by some guy along the lines of "if you aren't doing cardio, you aren't doing anything."  And although his cardio and my cardio look drastically different, I've still had this as a somewhat unconscious mantra.

However, there is more to life, and more to the gym.  Weight training, for example.  In theory, I would love to be able to pump a little iron, develop some upper body power to go along with my rapidly-strengthening legs.  But the machines!  The weight machines scare the living crap out of me.  They look like carefully constructed torture devices.  I'm convinced that if you approach one the wrong way, you'll end up bent into a pretzel with a broken back and kneecaps.  
There's also the social anxiety.  Like yesterday, I finally worked up the nerve to sit down on a relatively straightforward looking machine and do a couple of "reps" (haha, I sound like I speak fluent gym!  No sirree!).  There was a girl on the machine next to me, and after a minute, I realized she had finished and was waiting for my machine.  I panicked.  Is there an unspoken rule that you begin at the first machine and work your way down the line?  Had I jumped into her spot?  I hopped off and ran to get a wipey thing, but she already had one and was wiping my nasty butt sweat off herself, so eager was she to bust out some circuits. 

I slunk away and hung awkwardly around another machine that looked reasonable.  I circled it.  I decided that if I sat down facing forward, I could maneuver my arms next to the cushion-thingy and push, and that might be what you were supposed to do.  Then I saw the little guide stuck on it and realized I had visualized sitting facing the wrong way.  I skittered off to the treadmill, sure that at least there forward was forward.

This week, I vow to develop some kind of weight routine.  I have now figured out the operation of two machines, and I'll add to that.  My method so far has been to choose the ones that don't look like I'll have to adjust the seat height, but at 5 1', I'll have to get over that.  Slow and steady.  Don't want to put on too much muscle weight too quickly anyway.  (That's sarcasm, fyi.)


  1. It is okay to ask the staff for an orientation; after all you are paying for the privilege of using the machines, and you are correct incorrect usage can cause injury.

  2. Thanks eemilla, I know you're right. It goes against my need to be as unnoticeable as possible, but better to draw attention to yourself by asking for help than by ending up as a pretzel!