Feeling the Burn of Gym Protocol

Deborah DiSesa Hirsch: Feeling the burn of gym protocol

By Deborah DiSesa Hirsch
Published 12:00 am, Wednesday, March 22, 2017



I’ve become a gym rat. Who knew? I always thought I’d rather have a root canal than join a gym.
But here I am, running on the arc trainer (a true torture machine), and loving it. You can burn a thousand calories in an hour, so who couldn’t love this? I enjoy pushing the resistance up and trying to do it as fast as I can, even when the sweat is flying off me.
There’s a whole protocol at the gym. Almost got whupped when I removed a towel from the treadmill (hey, I thought someone just left it) and a man towered over me and said, “That’s mine.”
You just don’t take someone else’s machine. Even when they’re not on it. Recently the person who usually uses one of the ones next to (older, less workable) mine, didn’t come in at her usual time so I jumped on it. When she did finally come in, her eyes almost burned through my skin.
“Didn’t think you were coming in,” I said.
“I always come in,” she said icily. And the irony is, we’re normally pretty friendly. But don’t take my machine.
There’s a whole pecking order at the gym. There are the older ladies who (very gently) use the rowing machine or do five minutes on the elliptical as though they’re walking through the grocery store. (My favorite was a fairly chubby one who stashed a magazine on the dashboard and barely moved.)
Then there are the ones in between, who, like me, work out fairly regularly but would never be confused with those running a mile in three minutes on the treadmill. Then there are the don’t-take-my-machines. But enough on that.
Athletic, I’m not. I broke my finger watching a dodgeball game in fifth grade.
I never ever thought I would join a gym. I did Zumba for a while, and pretty much hated the others, always comparing myself to the ones with calves as large as cantaloupes, as the disgraceful Steve King from Iowa put it, about Mexicans supposedly running drugs.
Now, I’m a runner, and my calves are pretty big, too. I have trouble buying boots that zip up. But you’d never catch me running a marathon. Or even a half. (OK, so I did a 10K and thought I was a long-distance runner.)
I guess I like going to the gym because it’s a place I can prove myself (at least, pretty much without harming myself, though my Achilles tendon is acting up — and I broke my wrist running on what turned out to be ice three years ago). Normally I run outside. But on these cold, snowy spring days, it’s dry, and warm in there. Who wouldn’t make the trade-off? Now, about that root canal.
Writer Deborah DiSesa Hirsch lives in Stamford. Her blog is http://hotmedfax.blogspot.com .

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