If offered the choice, dear readers, would you rather:
1. Work out in your living room, at your own leisure, in whatever clothes you feel like wearing (even if they are technically your pyjamas), using a comprehensive (and challenging!) set of workout DVDs, with all of the equipment that you could possibly need (yoga mats, cork yoga blocks, resistance tubing, hand weights of every conceivable size, a pull-up bar, special rotating push-up hand things that let you attempt a push-up without straining your extremely sensitive forearms, and even special fingerless gloves to help you avoid getting callouses), a big screen TV, a woodstove if you’re too cold, a fan if you’re too warm, your special filtered water in unlimited supplies, and your pumping workout mix blaring from the stereo
2. Work out in a badly outdated gym, which costs you decent money to attend, which has all of one elliptical machine (which sounds tired and creaky and like it belongs in a museum for Industrial Age relics), which plays the Grease soundtrack on full blast over the loud speakers, which has terribly faded posters of Arnold Schwarzenegger pinned up on every wall (which seem unintentionally ironic and sad now that you know how far Arnie has fallen– even though you never understood his appeal, anyway), which is situated a full 9km (5.6 miles) away from your cozy cabin along winding country roads populated mostly with speeding pickup trucks, and which you must ride your bike to and from every time the urge to sweat hits, probably in the rain because this is the Pacific Northwest in the wintertime, in your makeshift “cycling” clothes (which are actually a pair of long johns, pink sneakers, and your regular rain coat), and all of this because you don’t drive.
I chose the gym membership, too.
Listen up: There have been years and years of feeling like I “should” do yoga and that I “should” enjoy it. After all, I eat like a hippie, wash like a savage, and pray like a godless heathen– I am the perfect candidate for blissing out on the yoga mat with ye olde Home Workout Tape.
But I can’t do it!
What can I say? I love working out at the gym. I love sweating all over, out of glands I didn’t even know I had, until I can actually feel salt granules scratching my forehead. I secretly love not having a natural breeze come along to blow all of my sweaty, post-workout evidence away. I love marveling at the nasty Rorschach-like pattern of sweat imprinted on my workout clothes at the end of a strenuous cardio session. I love running and jumping and kicking and punching. I love loud dance music– music that I never listen to except inside a gym. I love aerobics classes. I love ridiculous choreography and cheesy moves like “L-Steps” and “Grapevines”. I love elliptical machines and 30-minute time limits. Why? Who knows why.
I just do.
This year, instead of resisting my Inner Ass Kicker and telling it to “shush up and try yoga again”, I decided to just bite the bullet and get me a rural gym membership. The gym is located on the upper floor of a “mall” (read: spooky ghost town building) at a junction on the highway to Victoria. I went for the first time yesterday, riding my bike in the light rain and decked out in my un-hip long johns. I don’t have a front fender on my bicycle, so as I rode up and down those crazy country hills, bits of mud and rock splattered all over my clothes and face. I could feel grit in my teeth. It was awesome, but only because I knew I was heading to The Gym and not just to Tony Horton on my living room DVD player. (A pox on P90X!)
I made it to the gym in about 20 minutes and carefully changed out of my now-soaking-wet cycling clothes into my soon-to-be-soaking-wet gym clothes. I tested out the World’s Oldest Elliptical Machine for thirty minutes, not wanting to push myself too hard, knowing that a mostly uphill cycling trek still awaited me. I survived, even though every stride on that retro machine felt like it was taking me one step further back through time. At the end of it all, I got back into my wet, gritty cycling clothes and huffed and puffed for 9km home. Pretty epic for my first workout in over a month.
It was so worth it, though– tattered Schwarzenegger posters and all. My body loves moving (ahem, once I commit to getting off my lazy ass), and it responds really well to cardio-type exercise. It does not enjoy working out in my living room, and it is not particularly receptive to yoga just yet, but that’s okay. I’m not going to fight it this year. I’m just going to get my body back into gear, vintage-style. Perhaps I should invest in a sweatband, so I can blend in with the 1970s/1980s vibe at my new-to-me gym. No thong-style bodysuits over spandex leggings, though. What say you?