Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Gym Dandy

           I’ve always said that Phys. Ed. is a lot of fizz and not much ed.  In high school I finagled a note from my doctor to release me from P.E., but then discovered a California law that requires that you attend a class for the kids with broken legs and such, where you can at least wiggle your fingers for an hour. Bored out of my wits, I then learned that if you don’t dress for gym, you get sent to (horrors!) the library.  Does “Oh, please don’t throw me into that briar patch!” sound familiar?  I quickly learned how to dodge exercising altogether, and spend the hour with my beloved books.

            I did learn to snow ski and ride horses, but ball sports were out of the question.  Part of this was due to nearsightedness and a lack of hand-to-eye coordination.  And, yes, part of it was due to an overwhelming lack of interest.  Even when I was in news broadcasting I couldn’t understand why sports became a segment in a newscast about, well, news.  I carefully arranged my college schedule to include no Phys. Ed. whatsoever, and except for a couple of disastrous tennis and golf dates, I was in the clear.  
After marrying St. Bob, he twice gave me a gym membership (one of the worst things you can give your wife, and which nearly cost him the Saint status), but those were short-lived attempts at pleasing a man who thinks training is fun.  We have agreed to disagree on this, as I hope my workout-loving readers will understand.

Well, today the guillotine fell and my doctor told me to join a gym.  Aha—you’re thinking it’s to lose weight, aren’t you?  Wrong.  It’s to strengthen my joints, and get my muscles to do the job my ligaments will not.  This is akin to your doctor telling you that the best thing for your health would be to stand on a bed of nails, in a solitary confinement box, for 3 hours every day.  Sharp nails.  And while you’re standing there your work is piling up, you’re so bored you could scream, and you’re surrounded by people who do this all the time and think you’re a big baby for not wanting to join in. And those people were earlier dripping with gross, sticky sweat and getting it all over the nail bed.

            Four wrist and elbow injections of cortisone led to this dreadful verdict, a hideous fate I have suspected since I was diagnosed 30 years ago with hypermobility.  What’s that, you say?  It’s an incurable, inherited syndrome which means I started out life as one of those double-jointed little kids who could put her ankle behind her neck, bend her fingers backwards, the whole limber deal.  You can probably think of people you know, this very minute, who can do this.
           Tell them to stop!  We are freaks of nature whose tendons are too long, we sprain easily (even sleeping), and we are in for a boat load of misery.  Think of those little plastic stick-figure dolls on a round base where you press the button and the doll collapses, then you let go of the button and it springs back up again.  This is us.  Our arms fall out of their sockets, our feet go flat when we stand on them.  In short, we are barely strung together and by the time we’re 40 most of us have a collection of splints and braces for every joint. Pregnancy makes it worse because the body produces the hormone elastin, to make the pelvis loose for birth.  Trouble is it makes all the joints even looser and we hobble around in agony, our knees and hips slipping just from walking.
            People with this condition are to avoid contact sports, running, stretching, and yoga, all of which could lead to injury.  Ultimately we get various kinds of tendonitis, including tennis elbow for which no tennis was ever played.  But I guess that’s better than calling it Laundry Elbow.  Or Heavy Purse Elbow. They recommend two ways to cope.  One is to stand up every 30 minutes, if you happen to be sitting, so your legs don’t try to disconnect.  Can’t you just see this?  I’m to leap to my feet every half hour in movies and meetings, regardless of those around me.  I will become known as “that crazy lady who jumps up every 30 minutes.”  Worse than a cuckoo clock.  The other remedy is what my doctor suggested: Lift weights and strengthen every joint in the body, a task I estimate to take a good hour or two every day.  And this, in a giant building filled with people who liked P.E. and have no problem taking several hours away from their work each week, to get “ripped.”  It’s going to take every shred of restraint I have, to resist trying to enlighten them, and convince them to engage in productive, profitable desk work.  None of them will agree and I will become known as “that crazy lady who never wears workout clothes.”  Please.  It’s going to cost me enough time to drive there and lift weights; I cannot also include outfit-changing time.  Lucky my nose isn’t out of joint.  Oh, wait; it is.

            St. Bob, of course, is trying not to grin and relish the thought of sharing loud, clanging equipment and telling me when to inhale and exhale.  My ADD will kick in and I will not remember how many repetitions or sets I have done, thus I will quit.  It will be painful and I will cry.  Ultimately I will go next door for a milkshake and a Philly Steak sandwich.  There I will meet people from the East Coast who—be still my heart—could be fellow workaholics, and we will commiserate about what a monumental waste of time it is to go to a gym.  We will form a Board of Directors of a software and marketing corporation that will make billions of dollars and I can hire a personal trainer to come to my home.  And I will bake her some brownies and read her my plays and she will laugh her butt off (see?) and all will be well again.
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  1. Working out at a gym is equivalent to hitting yourself on the head with a hammer... it feels SO GOOD when you're done.

  2. Sometime when I exercise outside from my house I must be carry gym towel to wash my sweat from my body.

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