Gym is a different place to different people. A place of torture; a place of fun; a place of embarrassment; a place to ‘strut your stuff’!
I have found that it is a great place to keep this squonk body of mine moving. With brain damage it is more difficult to do things. I am unable to move my body as I used to. Because of my spastic right hand side, I don’t walk in the correct manner. I walk with a limp. But, hey, what a beautiful limpy walk I perform! Seriously though, I put unnecessary pressure on my body in all the wrong places. As a result I often suffer from tremendous backache. I have found that exercise is the best remedy for me. So, off to gym I go!
I don’t do the aerobics or Zumba dance classes. I would be a complete disaster causing untold chaos! I head for the machines. When I began gym I was unsure of which machines to use or for how long. Now I have it down to a fine art. Thirty repetitions on each machine! I laugh at myself returning recently from the Christmas holiday. Before the break, I happily skimmed through my thirty repetitions. Following it, I was ready to pack it in after only fifteen! It’s amazing how quickly you get out of shape.
The one machine I hate with a total passion is the bicycle. I found it so damn boring until my friend told me to stop cruising along with the control on one. I must push it up to at least two for four minutes and then three for the last minute. During that five minute bicycle ride, I now positively die! I definitely do not like the bicycle.
Dad used to come with me to gym. I can see him now in his “plimsolls” and grey tracksuit pants that were too short. I don’t think dad realised they were too short. They ended mid calf and his grey socks made up the shortfall. I smile remembering my father in gym. My gym is very relaxed and laid back. I barely work up a sweat. But dad was ten times worse! I would see him fiddling around on a few machines but he would spend the majority of his time watching all the nubile young women sweating through their aerobics class! Or sitting on a bicycle contentedly watching the cricket on the TV in front of him. Note I use the word ‘sitting’. Perish the thought of him actually riding the bike!
Smile. I miss dad.
I marvel at the ‘gorgeous’ people working out in the free weight area. Men AND women picking up the most astounding weights. This morning two young men were working together. Both had broad chests filled with M-U-S-C-L-E and arms like you wouldn’t believe! The one exhaled sharply, placed his hand around the dumbbell, shut his eyes, exhaled a little more and then with supreme effort he clasped it to his chest. His friend gave a running commentary of: “That’s it, come on now. Up…up…” Then the body builder pressed his dumbbell up above his head. He then returned the weight quickly to his chest once more and then let it fall onto the floor with a thump. This was accompanied by a great whoosh of air from himself and a “Good one, good one,” from his gym buddy.
Over the years I have come to know the various gym regulars. There is Hennie who has an amputated leg. I see him working on the rowing machines, complete with his prosthesis. There is Rina, a seventy year old lady who puts me to shame with the workouts she performs each day. There is the man with the wonderful bright sports shoes. I don’t know his name but one can’t forget his shoes or his smile! There is Trish, who always arrives at gym with her gorgeous hair pushed back behind a headband, looking neat and trim. She leaves a completely different person. Her hair is a disheveled wreck and her t-shirt is rumpled and wet with sweat. Her freckled face has perspiration dripping into her eyes and is plastered with a big smile. She has had a good workout!
One of the good things about having cochlear implants is that I am unable to weigh myself on the electronic scales in the ladies change room. Apparently electronics and my CI don’t go well together. I secretly smile watching the various women climb on and off the scales. Happy? Disappointed? Resigned? In actual fact, it is a liberating thing being able to walk past those scales without a thought!
You might have started this year determined to go to gym and get yourself in shape. By now your initial zest and zeal might have worn off. Perhaps you are tempted to pack it in. You mustn’t! I have learnt that gym is about far more than “keeping yourself in shape”. What strikes me about gym is that it doesn’t matter what size, shape and age you are. These actually don’t play a leading role in the general scheme of things. Yes, one strive’s to improve one’s body but that isn’t the be all and end all. Gym is a place for laughter and friendship. It is a place for competition and encouragement amongst friends. It is a place of smiles. I have been going to gym now for eight years. I…belong.
The best thing for me about gym is the feeling I have on leaving: okay, this body of mine has woken up. Now, let’s see what the day holds! Mmmmmm, maybe a banana milkshake!