9.08.2008

Death by Health

Since Kat got back from Alaska we've been making a concerted effort to eat better and exercise more. Of course her regimen of personal training and hauling gear on a fishing boat in the Bering Sea for three months puts her slightly ahead of me in terms of fitness.

So Friday as I was finishing up my workout Kat introduced me to her trainer, Raider. Yeah. Raider. As in pillager, plunderer, destroyer of towns, stealer of livestock, viking warlord. That kind. But he was really nice and informed me that as a member of the gym I'm entitled to one free fitness consultation every six months and if I was interested he'd be willing to go over my routine with me and coach me on form and show me some new exercises to throw in to the mix. Being put completely on the spot, I of course said sure. What was I gonna do? Tell this Nordic God that my pudgy ass was getting along just fine without him?

So I showed up today prepared to sweat a lot more than usual and to be completely embarrassed when Raider asked me to bench 200 pounds and I would have to meekly offer that I could maybe do half of that.

What I didn't know was that Raider fully intended to kill me with a workout from hell.

It started simple enough. Some stretching, a quick five minutes on the treadmill to get my heart rate up, and then we were off to the bench press. It was tricky because I had to learn the proper form since I have apparently been doing this exercise completely wrong my entire life. But I pounded out three quick sets and felt good. My muscles were tingly, I had a little sweat worked up, and I felt lively. This wasn't so bad at all!

"Okay," Raider instructed, "good warm up. Now let's put some real weight on there."

Ah. Shit.

I made it through bench presses only to be hauled off to do some seated rows which, again, I have been doing incorrectly since I learned to do them. Those were followed by some other kind of seated rows in which I grab the handle slightly differently and raise my elbows up as I pull which, I noticed, makes it hurt a hell of a lot more. Then some pull downs. Then came the leg press.

I've always been kind of proud of my leg pressing ability, although I admit my pride took a hit when Raider pointed out that I have strong legs solely because I am so fat that they have to be strong in order to keep me from toppling over like a weeble wobble. Again, I had to learn a completely new form, and again, I thought I was doing awesome until I found out we were just warming up again. I finished a set and stood up. My legs burned, but more distressing was the fact that I was completely winded. No, wait. The most distressing part was the fact that I was about to black out.

Of course I couldn't admit to my Nordic Warrior Trainer that I was gassed after not even half our workout session, so I figured I'd tough it out. What I didn't realize (and what Raider would later explain to me as I gasped for air with my head between my legs outside) was that the "full body workout" he was putting me through was drawing oxygen to all my muscles across my entire body. Since normally my muscles are used to sharing oxygen while enjoying a nap on the couch, this was causing some strain on my system, especially my now-oxygen-deprived brain.

But like I said, there was no way I was going to cop to being a weakling, so it was off to work on my shoulders. First I had to lift a 45 pound weight over my head repeatedly; this wasn't difficult except that I was completely disoriented now and struggling to stand straight as I did it. Next came some dumbbells to lift over my head while keeping my back and arms flush against a wall. Raider demonstrated the exercise and handed them over to me.

What followed could only be described as "embarrassing" by me, but to the (many) curious onlookers it probably looked like some sort of Special Olympics outreach program. I could not figure out how to lift barbells over my head. I watched Raider do it twice, and each time he would hand them to me and I would flail awkwardly and sweat all over the place and nearly drop 15 pounds of metal on my head.

"Okay," Raider wisely suggested, "let's take a minute to get your breath back."

"Can I get a drink of water?"

"No. That's against the Trainer's Code. Ha ha! Of course you can!" If I hadn't been so near death Raider might have seen my heart sink as I completely fell for his joke. Luckily I think the sweating and gasping covered it up.

I couldn't even make it to the water fountain without stopping to sit down. I was 99% sure I was going to black out and collapse in a sweaty heap in the middle of the gym, which is really close to the top of my list of most embarrassing things to do. Finally I got some water and started catching my breath.

"Okay, I think I'm back."

"Great! Let's get to the next exercise!" Did he have to be so damn perky about this? A little sympathy would go a long way right about n-

My thoughts were interrupted as I crashed into an exercise bike. Seriously. I walked right into it. Have you ever seen a deer get hit by a car but survive? They kind of stumble around and skitter around the road until they get up the strength to find their way back into the woods. That was me: doe-eyed and drooling, blindly bumbling my way around the gym.

"Uh...follow me." Raider decided my next torture could wait. I followed him, weaving from side to side like a drunk trying to convince a sheriff he's good to drive. We went outside and sat. Raider made small talk while I gasped and heaved and sweated all over everything.

Finally after a few minutes I started feeling like I wasn't on a spirit quest to the astral plane; I actually felt like I was inhabiting my body again.

"Okay, I think I'm really back this time."

"Great! Let's go!"

Fuck.

The rest of the workout was considerably lighter than the beginning, and this was most likely because Raider didn't want the lawsuit on his hands for killing me. The majority of the last exercises consisted of stretching, which I again failed.

Yeah. I fail at stretching.

Finally the trauma was over and Raider said I was free to go. I had to sit in the lobby for 10 minutes before I felt strong enough to walk the mile back to my apartment. Each step home was wobbly, and I've been sitting on my couch for about two hours now and my forearms still haven't stopped vibrating.

Other than that, it was a great workout.

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