Working Out

Planet Fitness at Oak Hill

Planet Fitness at Oak Hill

I go to the local gym to work out in the hopes of not only regaining all of the lost muscles that have disappeared as I have grown older but to extend by a few years, this one and only life that has been given to me.

As a bit of an athlete, I have spent my entire life in training and working out so to continue that into my old age is a natural thing to do. Neither does it take any major physical effort that gives my body discomfort as I try to listen as my body talks to me and am of the belief in more and lighter reps rather than fewer and heavier ones.

The hardest thing is to not listen to my mind as it whispers to my brain, “Take the time off, Relax a bit. You don’t need to go to the gym today, let’s go tomorrow”, and when tomorrow comes, the whispers continue. So, I thrust the whispers aside and three times a week, make my way to the gym where I work out usually at least for two hours. Sometimes, if I am feeling really good, I may stay longer.

Stephen King, American author best known for h...

Stephen King, (Wikipedia)

I have recently discovered Audio Books and now as I expend my energy in all kinds of painful positions using weights and equipment designed for younger and more athletic men, I spend the time listening on my iPhone with bluetooth headset, to Stephen King as he skilfully unwinds a mystery story to my eager ears.  Listening to his stories as read by various artists makes the time fly by so fast that it has added to the pleasure of the work out. Indeed, as I finished yesterday, I changed and made my way to the car where I sat for another twenty minutes as we came to the end of a chapter at a very suspenseful part of the story when the heroine escaped from the clutches of her captor as he was about to murder her.

Such is the power of the written word albeit in a spoken form, but I digress.

As with all gyms, I run into a lot of regulars and they range in all shapes and sizes with different degrees of body stature and fitness levels. The gym that I go to at Oak Hill has an unwritten rule of being “Non Critical”. Of course, that only applies to saying out loud what you may be thinking about others or they you as we go about our business of exercise machines, treadmills and free weights.

I try not to make it too obvious when a particularly pretty women with a great body comes in and bends and twists and generally contorts her body in a way more fitted to a bedroom than a gym. As times like those that I may add, are few and far between, makes all of my own pain and suffering worth while. Other than to keep the body toned up, these women really have no need to belong to a gym unless they do it to frustrate old men like me.

The majority of the patrons, more noticeably the women, really do need to make use of the facilities to help them get rid of unwanted fat. Some of them work really hard at it but many are content to walk the treadmill or ride the exercise bike for twenty minutes. Others scurry around with notebooks in hand, writing meticulous notes on their daily achievements as they move from machine to machine. One older gentleman who is a regular and usually works one of the exercise bikes, quite literally fell asleep as he worked out. The girl next to him noticed and called for help as she was concerned he may have passed on to that gym in the sky. The attendant woke him and everyone had a good laugh about it.

The muscle men are all in a secret competition with other as they vie to lift the heavier weights or push the most weight on any one of the machines. Some even move the pin down to the very heaviest weight after they have finished a particular work out in an effort to keep their weight limit a secret from the other jocks.

I gotta say that some of those guys are really built and can haul some really heavy weights. Most of them usually only have a few things they do and all are with free weights except the barbels as they are all slotted to slide up and down within the safety of a machine framework. From my vantage point as I work one of the machines with a much lower weight than they have, I watch them as they go through their routines some of which are absolutely amazing. Even in the peak of my youth, I was never able to lift the weights that some of these guys do.

There was one couple, a man and women, who work out together. They make a real handsome pair and were even more impressive as they went through their workout. As she waited for her turn to lift, the women either did push ups with her feet raised on a bench or sit ups holding a 20 pound weight without allowing much recovery time between her actions. Amazing.

Many older people both men and women use the gym. Like me, they are trying to regain some of the suppleness of youth and to stage off the inevitable. Some have handicaps that they skilfully work around. Others have specific areas needing lots of attention as they work out. I was chatting to a young fellow that didn’t look to be more than 18 who had broken his leg and was trying to rebuild the atrophied muscles prior to more upcoming surgery to remove the pins. I felt for him as he struggled to gain some normality to his shattered leg. Been there, done that.

Me, I usually move from machine to machine following a set pattern that I have worked out. I am very careful to avoid anything that puts too much strain on my right knee so as not to inflame the joint that currently has no cartilage on the outside and rubs bone on bone. So, a lot of my workout is directed at the stomach and upper body in an effort to grow the muscles to fit inside the saggy skin. Now where the hell did that come from?

I was at the Doctors for a Wellness check the other day and the nurse took my weight (167 pounds with clothes on) and then measured my height which hadn’t been measured since my inaugural physical for the army back in 1954. Back then, I was 5 feet 8 inches which I presumed to be my height for the rest of my life. Boy, was I wrong. I asked her to double-check as I didn’t believe her the first time but my current height is now 5 feet 4 1/2 inches. Somewhere, I have shrunk downwards by 3 1/2  inches. How the hell did that happen? No wonder I was letting in the high balls when I kept goal just before I retired from playing back in 2008. Lack of height plus a 2 inch vertical leap didn’t make for a good goalkeeper. It would also account for the fact that all of my life, I have worn a size 9 1/2 shoe until a blood clot in my right calf compelled me to go to a longer and wider shoe. I now wear a size 11 – 4E in width and I believe that the 3 1/2  inches I lost in height has now been added to my feet. Makes perfect sense as the movement in keeping with the laws of gravity would have to be downwards.

So based on the information that somewhere, my body has shrunk 3 1/2  inches and working on the assumption that the skin did not shrink along with it and that not all of it was added to my feet, that is why there is so much of the evil stuff just hanging around. Boy, wonder what it would take just to be young again.

I have noticed some improvement especially in my shoulders and even the smallest visible effect whether it be real or imagined brings hope. If it buys me five more years, I’ll settle for that…Anyone seen my sneakers?