Everybody Hurts

October 28, 2006

You will remember how Dave The Personal Trainer approached me over the summer while I was on the elliptical trainer, and you will remember that I didn’t do anything about it at the time. This message is being brought to you by my sore… everything, the result of the fact that finally, I got around to getting it going.

I am not working with Dave TPT, which is probably just as well, because Dave TPT would be distracting. I would conk my head with weights while staring. So it’s just as well that Dave TPT was not there when I showed up at the desk one day. Instead, at the desk, was… well, TPT. Different TPT. TPT was not sure whether he wanted to train me at first, because as we talked about what I was looking for from the experience, he quickly became concerned about a deep philosophical divide between us: I professed not to care that much as between the Browns and the Bengals. He immediately announced that he would not be training me, but would find me someone good. I asked him why he cared, and he said he was from Cincinnati. After I explained that I had relatives in Cincinnati, and after I was able to explain to him within a reasonable degree of certainty where in Cincinnati they lived, he agreed that perhaps it would work after all.

That was before my glorious vacation of early October, during which I visited my beautiful sister, increasingly awesome nephews, lovely pal Ames, and inimitable Music Stylist — now accompanied by his charming family, which finally got out from under the horrible strife of living in Wisconsin. Yuck. At any rate, TPT and I agreed that rather than skip a week and a half when I was just starting out, I’d just start after I got back. I got back on Sunday the 15th, and because the world tends to conspire to make me procrastinate even when I’m not trying, I immediately became deathly ill with a chest full of crackle paint and sinuses full of wet sand. This did not seem like a good way to start either, not to mention the fact that I wouldn’t make even a Bengals fan sick on purpose (just kidding!), so I had to cancel, and we reset for this past Sunday as opening day.

Here’s the thing about me and stuff like this: the most important thing is getting past the part where I feel like a complete wad. Seriously, you get me out there with my hair in a ponytail and my clumsiness blazing (although, in fairness, I was rocking my special-edition Glarkware shirt that says “Is This Because I’m A Recapper?” on the back), and I am in goddamn gym class all over again, and I can’t climb the rope, and you would think that maybe some of this would have left me, but none of it has. So the first thing I have to do is get used to the fact that if we’re going to do weight machines and whatnot, I’m going to hang out in the half of the gym with the Guys Who Go “RUH!” You know, those guys. They wear muscle shirts, and they wear little leather gloves, and with every move, they go, “RUH!” At least they’re thinking it. My half of the gym is the half where the people walking on treadmills and watching TV and playing their iPods hang out. That’s the mellow half. The half where it’s just distracted sweating. Hanging out with the GWGR is totally different. RUH! There aren’t as many of me over there as there are over by the treadmills. I instantly feel more… presumptuous. I trail TPT around very carefully, partly because I’ll get lost otherwise, but partly to lend myself legitimacy. “He’s making me do this,” I try to say to the GWGR via mental telepathy.

The first day was really not bad, with the exception of one thing, and for those of you who know what I’m talking about, you’ll instantly know what I’m talking about: GODDAMN BIG BALL. You know how those balance balls look kind of friendly and floaty, like you could cuddle up with one to listen to someone read you a story? Well, you can’t. Because they are made of evil. If you’ve ever seen the episode of The Office where Dwight is sitting on one and Jim stabs it with a pair of scissors? I now love that episode for an extra reason, which is that those things are not nice. TPT makes me sit down on it, then roll forward until my head and shoulders are on it and I’m flat like a plank out to my knees. Are you picturing this? Okay. Now, he wants me to lift up each leg in turn.

This sounds easy. It is not easy. It is designed to humiliate you, as he basically admitted. See, once you have nothing but your head and shoulders on the ball, moving your leg means moving your hips, which means falling off the ball. You wouldn’t think you could fall off a ball, but I assure you that you can. This is the soundtrack from me, doing this exercise: “Oops. Whoops. Oops. Oops. Whoops. Shit. Oh, sorry. Oops. Goddammit.” All I do is fall off. If falling off were the exercise, I would already be queen of it.

The rest of it? Not that bad. Acceptable, though very difficult. At the end, I wasn’t sore, exactly. I was just made of rubber. I went downstairs and discovered that changing for your shower is very hard when you can’t lift your arms over your head. I waited a couple of minutes.

That night, while I was over at M. Giant and Trash’s, Trash tried to convince me to drink, like, eight gallons of water before bed. “It will wash out all the… I don’t know… the thing? And the whatever? There’s a thing that makes you sore, and the water. Mm. Drink water! Shut up!” If you know Trash, you know that this is almost an exact transcription. I chose not to take her advice, because I think its only possible value is that it would have made me get out of bed five times overnight, which might have helped keep me from stiffening up, I admit.

And then, there was the being very sore. Not bad, not like I was injured. Just… sore. And as I explained to Tara, the only things that didn’t hurt were the things I care about not hurting: back, neck, knees. So I give TPT big props for that.

Today was round two. We started out with treadmill walking, which saves me a few minutes with the GWGR, but which also makes me… stand there while someone watches me walk on a treadmill, which is disconcerting. I feel like I should be entertaining him or something. I’d tell jokes, but… I don’t think so. We somehow got on the topic of him trying to help me keep from dropping weights on my head later, and we discussed what would happen if I did drop weights on my head and need to be taken to the hospital. We agreed that he would probably call me an ambulance, but he would definitely try to get himself another client for whatever remained of my hour.
The only bad development was that this was the day TPT learned that I will not be doing pull-ups. At least not at this time. I was a good trouper and I tried. But… no. Actually, more like “HA HA HA! No.”

For whatever reason, the machines were more crowded than they were on Sunday, even though it was Wednesday (crazy Minnesotans), so we did a bunch of other things, including walking lunges. What I “love” about walking lunges? It’s the closest you’re going to come to actually going up to every individual person at the gym, knocking on the side of his head, and saying, “Hi, would you like to stare at me?” Because “walking” means “walking.” Down the aisle. Of machines. I kept feeling like I should wave to everyone. I almost stepped on the head of a guy doing sit-ups. This was also the only thing during which I actually hurt myself. You may or may not know this, but you have this muscle halfway down the outside of your thigh that you use for getting out of the car. You aren’t even aware that you’re using it, but you are. You’ll only learn you have it if you ever harm it in any way, as I did, while doing walking lunges. Getting out of the car will immediately become substantially more challenging.
Also on today’s agenda: something that felt a lot like a field sobriety test. Stand on one foot, put the other foot forward… to the side… behind you. Do this for one minute. I told TPT that this would help if I were ever pulled over, which resulted in his telling me a very amusing story about proving to a friend that he wasn’t drunk by doing a row of back flips. This is why he’s a trainer, and I’m… a writer.

At the end, we attacked the thing on the side of my leg. The Getting Out Of The Car Muscle. Specifically, he taught me how to give it a massage (this had an official name starting with “self” and ending with “release,” which caused me to do my Beavis laugh, but only on the inside), which he told me would hurt like holy hell at first. Which — mission accomplished!

At any rate, I am still what I would describe as “fuck-all sore,” but mostly in a good way. Today wasn’t as much Arm Day as Sunday — it was more Leg Day, which is why instead of being unable to lift my arms over my head, I almost had my leg give out on the way down to the locker room. But other than the Getting Out Of The Car Muscle, it’s all going well. I am encouraged by the fact that TPT tells me what to do, but does not feel the need to be all “rah rah,” because I would have to punch him in the face if he did that. In fact, we have a growing sense of trust — a dude came strolling by while I was working out today, and he was clearly kind of watching and observing, and he slapped TPT on the back, and I was thinking, “QUIT STARING.” But it turned out that it was TPT’s boss. “So this would be the wrong time to scream for help,” I said. “No,” said TPT. “That would be good. It would draw attention to us and make it clear that I’m a jovial trainer.”

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