Is This a Bodybuilding Competition or a College Gym?

It’s been awhile since I have written about my attempts to spice up my life, so I decided that it was about time to sit down and share some things that happened at the start of this semester. The biggest thing, other than getting back into the swing of things at college, was that I attempted to add working out into my routine. Right now you are probably rolling your eyes thinking of the millions who commit to working out at the beginning of the New Year, well…I am one of those people. However, I did not plan on ending in a few weeks since I had a firm belief that I would start to actually enjoy working out. Haha, not really, I just believed that after repeated workouts, my brain would respond to the perceived trauma by pumping me full of endorphins to numb the misery.

The week that I arrived back from winter break to school I casually mentioned to my RA (resident assistant) that I was planning on heading to the gym after a conference ended in the evening. He asked if I would be ok with him tagging along, to which I forced a smile and told him that it wouldn’t be a problem. My mouth said one thing and my mind thought another. In case you haven’t gathered it from my previous posts, I am not a shining beacon of athleticism. On the contrary, I really look like I am about two McDonald’s meals away from applying to be on the Biggest Loser. However, since I didn’t want to hurt his feelings I resisted the urge to tell him I would rather work out alone and headed back to the dorm to change into workout clothes.

My dread of working out with the number one player on the varsity tennis team was steadily growing as I squeezed into my tight workout shirt, which I promptly covered with a light jacket since I didn’t want to look like a shrink-wrapped burrito. That was nothing compared to how I felt when I headed over to my RA’s room to find that one of the other majorly athletic guys in the dorm would be joining us to “lift” (I guess that’s the lingo people use to describe weight training). I am pretty sure that I looked horror stricken when my RA said that the other guy would be joining us, but I quickly recovered and started out the door with them to the dreaded weight room.

On the way over to the gym they both decided to race since I guess athletic people like competing wherever and whenever they can. I trailed behind sounding like an asthmatic who had just completed a triathlon without an inhaler, and was relieved once we finally made it inside the doors and could walk.

After scanning our ID cards at the front desk, I put my phone, wallet, keys, and pride on a side table and followed them over to the weight section of the gym. They headed straight from the bench press, playfully arguing about who could lift more, and I headed straight to one of those weight machines that works out your chest without making you balance a bar precariously over your sternum. I did a few reps before deciding that I needed to be more involved with activities that draw me out of my comfort zone, so I made my way over to my dorm mates who were bench pressing as if someone’s life depended on it.

They looked happy that I had come over to join them and offered to spot me as I bench pressed. The problem is that I am not as strong as either of them, but I was attempting to press the same weight that they had just been using. After about 2 1/2 reps where my arms convulsed violently and my face turned a dark purple (I am thinking of writing a book called Fifty Shades of Beet, a novel of a fat boy who has to work out in order to stave off diabetes and heart problems), they grew concerned that I was overexerting and told me that they would just remove some of the weight. In the end I think I was lifting about as much as an eight year old girl with a muscle deficiency would lift, but even that felt torturous. The worst part was that after each set, during which I would laboriously bench press the measly weight, they would add on what looked like the weight of a small pony to the bar and rapidly complete set after set.

At this point I was completely discouraged about my lack of athletic ability. A huge part of me wanted to walk back to my room and consume a large bag of chips to numb the feelings of inadequacy that I felt; however, I knew that if I followed that urge I would continue to work out once a year, which I did not want to happen. So I soldiered on and went from machine to machine with the guys, doing my best to match the effort that they were expending.

After they went off to go do more athletic, manly activities I walked over to the exercise mats and began stretching. I am about as flexible as a corpse, so I have always tried to end my infrequent workouts by spending some time on the stretching mats. I had just made it through a few different stretches (during which I had almost touched my knees with my fingertips), and was about to call it quits and head back to the dorm when my RA came over. He enthusiastically said that he was going to do pushups and asked if I wanted to join him. I hesitated, not wanting to do more exercise but also wanting to step out of my comfort zone. After much deliberation, during which he awkwardly waited for a response, I agreed to join him and heaved myself up from the mat to start my second round of torture.

We went into the exercise studio since they had mats to use for fun activities like pushups and got into position to start the workout. He decided that we would do fifty pushups before leaving the exercise room and said that we should start out in increments of fifteen. My already sore arms began vibrating at a dangerously rapid pace the second that I tried to complete my first pushup, but I soldiered on and completed the first fifteen. I collapsed to the mat gasping for air and wishing that I had stayed inside my warm, non-athletic room instead of coming to the gym, but those thoughts didn’t last long as my RA informed me that we needed to start the next fifteen. I won’t bore you with all the tedious details, but I somehow finished the fifty pushups (even though the last ten only involved slightly bending my arms).

After I got some air back into my lungs, we put our mats away left the exercise studio. I gathered my things from the table and started back to my room feeling accomplished by that evening’s activities. Even though I felt like an idiot for most of the workout, I felt good knowing that I had put in some effort to step outside of my small comfort zone and try some new experiences. Hopefully the next time I work out I can push myself even further.

Until next time,

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