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Beating the gym blues

I go to the gym for two reasons. First of all, people no longer consider pregnancy as an excuse for weight gain. My ‘baby’ is already 5700 days old – or rather, he is 15 years old.

Secondly, I want to beat that man on the treadmill next to mine, the guy who never stops. No matter how many minutes I work out, he is still going strong. It is giving me a complex.

Ages ago, I used to cycle at the gym. Then it got boring, so I took a book along. I believe that reading while sitting on the Exercycle stimulates the body and mind (also, it makes me feel less guilty) Then I started reading more and cycling less. After a few days, I was reading a lot and not exercising at all. While some people were taking breaks to move on to more strenuous workouts, I was taking breaks to rest my eyes. But the most boring book seemed more exciting than gym, so I quit.

Now I have once again started working out in the evenings. The baby-turned-teenager watches me through the gym window, to make sure that my push ups are better than his 8-month-old ones were, years ago.

At the gym, I have made some good friends, who share a common goal. There was an awkward silence between us initially, similar to the kind that you endure inside lifts filled with strangers. We pretended to concentrate on our own machines, while in reality, each one of us was stealing glances at the people around – checking out what they were doing, wearing, drinking with quick swigs from their smart sports flasks etc and wondering if anyone saw you struggling to start your treadmill.

We became friendly after we realised that the gym was our common enemy. Some of us are already on first name levels of acquaintance. But I never share eye contact with a trainer who tortures the life out of a woman at our gym. He seems like a nice man otherwise, but he never lets that poor woman rest. I have caught them glancing amusedly at my circus; I am scared to say hello. He would make mincemeat out of the likes of me.

I land at the gym these days with a magazine, because old temptations never die. Then I follow the first rule of the gym – I glance at the machine next to mine. It is killing itself. It is showing 23978088582393900000 – which, on my own machine, could only be the equivalent of my weight. It might not be possible for the machine to show that many figures – but it sure looks like the gentleman on it is working the machine to its maximum capacity.  I sigh and look away.

Then I puff and pant for what seems like 2 hours and check my treadmill. It is still showing 2 minutes and 41 seconds. I thought that one second passed in a hurry, but not on this monster contraption. On the other hand, if I was watching FRIENDS for the one hundredth time on the TV in the gym and enjoying a few laughs, it would let me cross the length of a polar expedition within seconds.

I work out – twenty minutes every day, not a minute more. I ignore the loud TV, discuss novel ways of loosing weight with my new-found friends, offer sympathetic support and jump off the treadmill at exactly twenty one minutes (again, the extra minute prevents guilt), as if staying a second more would put me at the risk of collapsing there. Weight loss is moving at a snail’s pace. But I will not stop. I am no quitter.

The chances of me beating anyone exercising in our gym are slim. I have to ‘learn to set achievable targets’ (quoted verbatim from an instruction that the trainer gave his student) So, I have decided to focus on my own training, not on doing better than others.

As for the tread mill guy, you just cannot win with some people. He is probably still exercising as this is going to print.

By Linda Joseph Kavalackal,
Christ & Co.

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