What is a one syllable word that is a synonym for virtuous? That’s right. Gym. G.Y.M. When you go to the gym, you feel virtuous. When you stay away from the gym, you feel like an evil slob. Ergo, the choice between going to the gym (virtuous) and staying home where it’s warm and the latest episode of Hawaii Five-O is on TV (evil slob) should be a no brainer.
Of course, the choice is anything but a no brainer possibly because the brain has very little to do with it. The brain knows that being virtuous (going to the gym) is the logical, sensible course of action. But for most of us, the brain does not rule the body—and more importantly—the emotions. Like any self-respecting body, my body craves pleasure above all else. And to me, pleasure means lying on the couch, eating chocolate, napping, eating chips, relaxing, drinking wine—the list could go on and on and nowhere does it include pumping iron.
And yet I am well aware that pleasure can also be gained from the look and feel of sleek musculature, the joy of climbing stairs without huffing, the feel of fresh air pulsing through one’s lungs as strong legs stride confidently up root twisted paths. The only trouble is that the pleasures of fitness must be won at the cost of slobbery.
It’s not fair.
But I know when I’m beaten and so to the gym I go, convinced in my brain, if not in my heart, that being fit is a GOOD THING.
The Gym that I go to on beautiful Bowen Island is a cut above most gyms. I’m greeted by name when I walk in, I enjoy a view of water trickling down a granite rock face from the toilet, and I overlook a grassy green with budding trees and laughing children while trudging on the treadmill. The Gym on Bowen is like something out of a fairy tale.
I hop on one of the pieces of equipment to begin the cardio warm up and therein lies my problem. I’ll admit it. I’m bored. I walk and I walk and I walk and I go nowhere, or I pedal and pedal and pedal or, if I’m feeling particularly inspired, I sweat it out on the elliptical trainer (a tortuous instrument if there ever was one). Within seconds of mounting the chosen machine, my brain kicks into gym mode. It goes something like this:
How many minutes do I have to do? OK, how about ten? Sure, ten isn’t so bad. And after ten minutes I can do some weights. Which weights? I dunno. Heavy ones I guess. OK. How many minutes has it been? Forty seconds? Something must be wrong with this machine. No, it’s fine. Just keep walking/pedaling/ ellipting. How about I count? Sure. One and two and three and four and five and… Is that a minute yet? No? Oh wait, there goes the numbers. I’ve done two minutes now. That’s just eight more to go. I’ll try counting again. One and two and three and… Is that Roy out there? I should wave. No, he doesn’t see me. The rain’s starting again. Remember the counting. Right. Fifteen and sixteen and seventeen and… God I’m bored. How many more minutes. Six? No. Seven. Rats!
And so it goes for the full ten minutes. And then finally, the red numbers flash 10:00 and I hop off and go in search of the least painful round of weight training that will still give me great results. The problem is that I want to look lean and mean; I just don’t want to have to sweat for it.
With touching dedication, I embark upon a sequence of four separate exercises repeated three times like I’ve been taught. I can’t help stealing frequent glances at the clock. I must stay in the gym doing something fitness-related for thirty minutes every day for a full month.
And my reward at the end of the month?
I get to go to the gym every day for another month.
Stay tuned – will I make the whole month? So far, I’ve done 13 straight days and now, on Day 14 must take the one “gimme” day allowed. My stint at Coastal Patterns Gallery ended just ten minutes before the Gym closed. Now I have to be very sure not to miss any more days between now and May 31.
A challenge indeed.