Recently, I visited my local gym for the first time after snacking-in-place for over two months. It was like going to see an annoying former friend – out of guilt. I’ve always had a tolerate-hate relationship with working out. I hate spending my time sweating and hyperventilating when I could be lounging in my recliner while watching reruns of “The Andy Griffith Show.” Then again, health experts tell us that regular exercise can literally add minutes to our eventual time in hospice.
In my desire to remain a source of irritation to my wife and three daughters for as long as possible, I’ve developed an exercise routine at the gym that is almost bearable.
First, I’ve found that it’s important to wear proper athletic attire, which, for me, means looking like Barney Fife at an NBA tryout. The long Nike basketball shorts disguise the fact that I usually skip “leg day,” and the tank top ensures that other patrons can thoroughly evaluate the effectiveness of my deodorant. As an added bonus, a protective COVID-19 face mask hides my identity and cuts down on the public humiliation factor. I also wear a pair of workout gloves so that I can get a better grip on the exit door handle.
I usually begin my workout with some intense cardio on a stairmaster/elliptical-type thingy that mimics the sensation of wishing there was an escalator nearby. Although I realize I need to keep my body moving, I still think these machines should include some kind of head rest, preferably with memory foam. I try to stay motivated on the cardio equipment by listening to some inspirational workout music by Van Halen. My playlist includes songs like “Ice Cream Man,” “Poundcake” and “Somebody Get Me a Doctor.”
Once my legs feel like overcooked fettuccine and I’ve worked up enough of a sweat to gross myself out, I head to the weight-training area. Before I had children and looked a little less like Steve Buscemi, I would march confidently over to the free-weights to pump some iron and sometimes pull my groin. But now that my days of chugging protein powder and popping my pecs are over, I rely on the weight machines that are less likely to crush my esophagus.
The feature I appreciate most about these contraptions is that they are heavily padded to the point of being almost comfortable. In fact, I sometimes doze off on one of the machines and have to be awakened by someone’s grandmother who needs me to move so she can increase the weight and get her swole on.
I usually conclude my workout by doing a few abdominal crunches in my ongoing and fruitless effort to develop a six pack. If I push down hard enough on my abdomen with my fingers, I can sort of feel the six pack, but it seems to be stored in one of those insulated cooler bags - for freshness, I guess. Mainly, these exercises just make me need to go to the men’s room on my way out of the gym.
Although exercising is almost as punishing as taking my three teenage daughters to shop for cosmetics, I know it’s good for me, and I’m glad to be back in the gym wishing I were somewhere else. If you haven’t started your own post-quarantine workout routine, I encourage you to visit your local fitness center. And if you aren’t into the whole exercise thing, you can always slip into a weight machine and take a nap.