I haven’t been to a gym in 20 years. But today I joined one.
After four kids, and with a 25th high school reunion looming in November, I decided to shed my soccer mom weight. At around 50 pounds overweight, I was just sick of not liking my body.
(Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be one of those annoying motivational bullshit tales; unfortunately it’s probably more likely to be a Kirstie Alley rollercoaster of fat/hot/fat/repeat).
Between January and now, I lost 25 of the 50 pounds by simply eating less, and walking with a friend a few days a week. Nothing dramatic. Little things. Switch from white processed to raw sugar in my coffee, in which I also skipped the cream. Fewer desserts. Less bread. Yawn. The usual.
But it’s no fun losing weight if you’re not going to be toned, and suddenly I decided now (at age 43… mid-life crisis?) would be a good time to be able to wear a bikini again for the first time since high school.
So at the gym I hire a trainer, because the equipment looks like a room full of Terminator robots; I’d be unlikely to successfully operate a single one on my own. My new trainer’s name is Hutch. Because I couldn’t make that shit up, and also because in college (or the military? I forget) his roommate’s last name was Starsky, and it stuck.
Hutch is like a fiftysomething guy who does not in any way remind me of Sergeant Hulka from the 1981 Bill Murray movie Stripes and therefore does not seem like someone who will scream in my face or even whisper “Lighten up, Francis.” I guess I had been masochistically hoping for someone who would yell at me. (Actually, what I was hoping for was a Justin Timberlake look-alike with a Mrs. Robinson fetish, but we can’t have everything).
Hutch is going to ask me some questions. My health, blah blah blah. He seems surprised I’ve never had any injuries. I tell him perhaps it’s because I couldn’t really get injured sitting on the couch eating Chubby Hubby Ben and Jerry’s ice cream for the past 20 fucking years.
Now we are going to talk about food. I explain to him patiently that I don’t like fruits and vegetables. He cocks his head to one side and, as though speaking to a slow child, asks which fruits and vegetables I like. I tell him I like watermelon and corn. And Slim Jims. He gives me a slight frowny face and gently explains that I am not going to be able to eat Slim Jims on my new healthy diet. I get up and leave, heading immediately to Kmart for a case of Slim Jims. Okay, no I didn’t. But I thought about it.
I tell him I will eat Slim Jims only on Fridays, and just two. He agrees. He tells me watermelon is okay, but I will need to eat apples and oranges as my main fruits. I agree, since he allowed the weekly Slim Jims. This is like playing chess. With my fat ass. He tells me “corn is not the best vegetable.” I resist the urge to ask him how some fiftysomething gym rat gets to decide what the fuck the best vegetable is (especially here in Maryland where the corn is just about to come in) and instead tell him I will eat tomatoes. And cucumbers. But also corn. On Sundays.
He asks if I drink alcohol. I explain I normally have two drinks a week on Friday or Saturday night, and that Single Barrel Jack Daniels goes really well with Slim Jims. (And now, I hope, apples). He agrees two drinks a week are fine.
WHEN IS THIS GUY GOING TO START SCREAMING AT ME THAT I NEED TO LOSE THIS FUCKING KANGAROO POUCH AND THESE DAMN LOVE HANDLES!
We then visit the classroom area and discuss which classes I might consider taking. Hutch likes to talk about how important YOUR CORE! is. I tell him I’d like to try spin class. He tells me if I hate it I don’t have to stay for the whole class, I can leave in the middle. What kind of trainer are you? Is this some kind of athletic reverse psychology? I’ll finish the fucking spin class, asshole!
I tell him I’ve taken yoga for many years, and, pointing to the class currently in session, he tells me I should try yogalates, which sounds like a coffee. If coffee could kill you. It’s a combination of yoga and pilates and everyone in the class looks like, if someone threw bath salts into the room, they would quickly become dismembered and die.
He asks if I’ve ever tried Zumba. I say no, that it seems every other soccer mom that ever walked the planet has tried it, and that I’d give it a go since I love to dance. I explain that I really want to take pole dancing class because my dream is to someday dance to “Pour Some Sugar on Me” by Def Leppard at a New Jersey strip club, but the eyes of Hutch seem to have sort of glazed over as he replies that they do not offer pole dancing class. I tell him I bet pole dancing class is really good for YOUR CORE!
Ultimately I agree to try the three aforementioned classes, in addition to CORE! and strength training on the machines. I tell him the “ellipticals” look like something designed for medieval torture, but Hutch assures me he can show me how to use them. He also says that you can watch TV on the treadmills and there are healthy fruit smoothies. I guess I’ll give this thing a go, despite my trainer’s general lack of drill sergeantry/ass kickery.
And even though there are no Slim Jims for sale at the juice bar.
—Mary McCarthy also blogs at PajamasandCoffee.com.