Sunday, January 28, 2007

In Fitness and In Hell

This past week, I received two calls from Fitness First Robinsons Manila. Apparently, two of my bestest friends have signed up as new members and they were kind enough to recommend me for a free trial workout. I distinctly remember telling them that I have been going to Fitness First The Fort since April 2006; but since we all talk at the same time whenever we get together and punctuate all our sentences with riotous laughter- that tidbit may have been unheard.

Here’s my recollection of my first day in the gym, that faithful day in April 2006, as published in my old blog:

After eons of procrastinating, tens of pounds gained in a matter of months, and being the eternally rudderless, fly-to-wherever kite that I am, I finally took the plunge and found myself sweating in an honest-to-goodness fitness center.

I thought it was just a horrible dream sequence. But no, I was wide awake, gasping for breath, head-spinning, leg muscles cramping, lower back and anterior chest aching, visual field almost dissolving into an all-white expanse due to sheer lack of glucose and oxygen.
All in a matter of 17 minutes and 25 seconds after starting my exercise regimen proper.

It all began when I first met my ‘fitness instructor’ Mike who seem buffed enough to break me in two. He’s a kind and jovial person, but he doesn’t really mince his words with regards to health.

‘Sir, 26 pa lang kayo pero ___ lbs na kayo. Kailangan na talaga kayong magpa-slim.’

Yes, I know. That’s why I’m paying you and your center to torture me back to shape.

After filling-up a questionnaire about my health and small-talk-slash-pep-talk from Mike, we proceeded to a most dreaded task: weighing. I was WAAAAAAAAAAAAY-OFF my target weight range. BUT in fairness to me, I lost some 10lbs since I last weighed myself. When that was, I can hardly remember. But that’s not the point. Really.

After weighing, we proceeded to this nifty, know-it-all machine. It computed my body fat- I had a staggering amount of 64 pounds of fat within me. That’s like an entire grade schooler worth of fat residing in me.

(I suddenly remembered that portion in FIGHT CLUB where they raided this liposuction clinic and got hold of the jugs of fat taken out of patients’ bodies and turned them to soap. I wonder how many bars of soap the fat I contain in my body will ultimately make…)

Then the moment of truth came. I went to the main workout area, with a gazillion treadmills. Mike scanned the floor and chose from among the vacant machines the one beside this trim, slim, fit guy who was RUNNING atop his treadmill at a speed that I believe rivals Flo Jo. Great. Just what I needed. ‘Inspiration.’

He punched some keys on the control panel and the machine purred to life. He then asked me to step unto the conveyor-belt-thingy-area. I could have sworn the machine groaned under my weight.

“Ayan, sir, lakad-lakad lang tayo ha, (punches keys here, adjust knobs there) i-increase ko lang yung slope ha (points to this LCD monitor in front of me) tapos hawak lang po kayo dyan sa heart rate monitor. Ten minutes lang yan sir. Balikan ko kayo.

My parents ought to have taught me the wrong way to walk because that was The Hardest, Longest, Most Excruciating Ten-Minute Walk I Have Ever Taken. It didn’t help that the guy beside me was running- fast and effortlessly at that- as if he were running with the bulls in Spain and sprinting to save his behind from being skewered. Soon after, I began wondering if that heart rate monitor I was made to clutch was hooked to some central computer which would activate all imaginable alarms and lights should it suddenly indicate I was a flatliner. At times it didn’t register my thumping heart’s beats. Maybe I’m dead already!

But I didn’t die. I finished my ten-minute treadmill regimen. My skin shed buckets of sweat enough to fill a resort’s kiddie pool, I was out of breath for a little while but I managed to burn some 100 calories in ten minutes. I felt a little wobbly after the brief cool-down walk on the treadmill but I was optimistic enough that I can make it through the day’s session. I had another item in my cardio program and I was supposed to do some abs workout. So I immediately proceeded to the next machine.

I don’t know what the name of the next machine I jumped into was, but it was sort of a cycling machine with two pedals that I have to spin forward with my legs with two ski-pole-like handles/attachments jutting out perpendicular to the floor. My fitness instructor punched in a couple of settings on the control panel and promptly left after I got the pedaling right.

I never learned how to ride the bicycle so the supposed ten-minute regimen was really a challenge for me. After one minute, I was still okay. On the third minute, I closed my eyes and began to pray the Our Father- one for assistance to finish the regimen, two to pass the time. After praying the Our Father, I decided to say extra prayers and continued on to pray Hail Mary and Glory Be. After finishing those three prayers, I opened my eyes, looked at the timer on the control panel, and was shocked to find out that I was on the pedaling-machine-thingy for a good Three Minutes And Twenty-Five Seconds!

I may have entered a warpzone somewhere. Time flew oooh-sooo-slooowly. And my fitness instructor seemed to have slipped into a wormhole of his own. I scanned the entire floor- I couldn’t find him anywhere.

After the fifth minute, I was ready to call it quits. My legs hurt, my breathing fast but labored, my lower back and anterior chest ached, and I was beginning to feel a l-i-t-t-l-e dizzy. He re-appeared as I crossed the seventh minute atop the pedaling-machine-thingy. Seven minutes and twenty five seconds into that cardio regimen, I told him I wasn’t feeling well and he helped me off the machine.

We headed towards the snack area and I downed a glass of cola and another glass of water, one after the other. He took me to the Pilates area where it was much cooler. I felt reeeeeally dizzy, with my field of vision almost turning into a white blank. Thank God I didn’t pass out. Mike was trying to explain what happened but I only managed to catch snippets of what he said-“Glucose… out of shape… normal… rest… kita n‎’yo na sir…”

I believe my mind was playing a pre-taped response at the same time- That’ll do, Pig. That’ll do.

That’s how my first day at the gym ended- with a near fainting spell that would’ve put to shame the tactics of women in Victorian London. After resting for a while and undergoing some stretching/relaxation techniques courtesy of Mike, I headed to the locker room to change. I went home, took a shower, and slept for like ages.

Now I know why I’ve never-ever had the guts to go to the gym. What I couldn’t understand yet is why those gym-nuts spend hours submitting themselves to what seemed like hours of torture.

But I’m willing to find out.
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I'm willing to give the healthy lifestyle another chance after having frozen my Fitness First account for sometime.

Next gym session’s this February.

PS- If I don’t post anything within that month, please pray for my immediate recovery or for the eternal repose of my soul =)

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