ALL BUFFED UP AND NO WHERE TO GO
September 21, 1998
Leslie and I decided we had gotten about as big and sofa-like as we cared to be - so we joined a gym. Now, I know what you are saying, "Why not just diet? It's so much easier and less sweaty. Besides, large people of the female persuasion are usually not welcomed into the workout facilities of this country." And I'd have to agree with you except for one thing: I cannot now, nor have I ever been, able to loose any weight by changing my eating habits.
I could eat nothing but cottage cheese and cantaloupes and drink five gallons of water a day and I would still gain weight. I have no explanation for it except that I have the metabolism of a Three Toed Sloth. My heart beats enough to keep me alive - but other than that, it can't be bothered.
I'd like to take a minute to address Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig and the like. I look at these businesses the same way I look at AA and church. They work for some but not for me. I have no use for yo-yo diets or quick fix drinks. I suppose, like most Americans, I have been jaded by the media. I hear about a great diet or pill or some other system one week and the next I hear that it kills people. I've got a real problem with that. These industries do turn fat into gold but only for the people running them.
I've always wanted to stand in front of a Jenny Craig office eating a whole turkey leg in a T-shirt that says, "Jenny did this."
So, we joined a health spa. Now, I'm not talking about any sort of european-avocado-peal-colon-wash kind of spa. We joined to sweat, not to get closer to our intestinal linings.
This place has just about everything. Free weights, machines, racket ball courts, a pool, a couple of hot tubs and loads of classes. So far it's been very good except for the fact that I constantly feel as if I've been riding in a cement mixer. I'm assuming that either I will get used to feeling like this, I will stop feeling like this or I will die. Either way, I'll be satisfied.
One of the main reasons we joined this particular gym was because it has lots of racket ball courts. I love racket ball. If you are unfamiliar with the game, let me explain. You and any number of people - up to 80 I believe - are shut in a small room with a high ceiling and some random lines on the walls and floor. You each have a short racket and there is one small, fast moving, blue ball.
The object of the game is to hit the ball so that the other people can't. Since neither Leslie nor I have ever actually taken the time to learn the rules, we basically make them up as we go along.
Of course, when I say "we" I actually mean Leslie. We start off the game agreeing on some basic rules. Serve from the red line and the ball has to bounce once and so on. Leslie then decides to add rules as the game progresses to fit her playing style.
"OW! OK, if you hit the other player, you lose a point." She shouts and rubs her shoulder where the ball happened to ricochet.
"SHIT!" I yelp and try to find my glasses.
"You lose two point for hitting yourself." I think she was smiling but she was too blurry for me to say for sure.
At one point the score was minus three to eight. I decided that was enough racket ball for one night.
We've taken a couple of classes too. We found out that anything that is preceded by the word "water" is actually code for "fat ladies welcome." There is a water aerobics class that make my self esteem go right through the roof. In that pool, I was young and svelte. The class was no joke, though. The instructor was this small, loud-cheery woman that must have been a sergeant in an earlier life.
We ran, walked, did jumping jacks and lifted balls for an hour. At the end I was feeling pretty good. I'd had a good workout without fainting. I did feel like I had blisters forming on the bottom of my big toes, probably from the texture of the pool against my bare skin. Leslie and I decided to get into the whirlpool after class. I opted for the co-ed one next to the pool instead of the all female one in the locker room. Have you ever noticed that anytime women know there won't be any men around, they get naked? Now, I know that nakedness is perfectly natural. Salmonella and mad cow disease are also perfectly natural - that doesn't make them good either. It's the fear of the floating pubic hair that really gets me but that is a whole other issue.
So, as soon as I climb into that warm bubbly water, I realize that I have definite blister-age on my toes. It smarts! After my toes go numb from the pain I'm able to relax. We get out of the whirlpool and head into the locker room. More random nakedness. I spend my time not watching. At one point I'm not watching so well that I notice a small pool of blood forming around me feet. Turns out, I scraped all the skin off both big toes.
I decided that was enough water aerobics for a while.
I haven't given up on the gym yet but after all this health and well being, I need to rest a little. I'm sure I'll pick it up again when I have skin on my toes and have lost this sense of foreboding that Leslie is simply trying to collect on my life insurance.
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Copyright 1998 by Laura Jiménez.