Five Moments I Realized that Getting a Gym Membership was a Mistake
Mistakes come in all shapes, sizes, and levels of stupidity. Maybe it’s that ex you never should have dated, or that email from a Nigerian prince that you never should have replied to, or that fifth meat platter you never should have gone back to the buffet table for, swimming around violently in your stomach as you run up the walls at inhuman speeds a la Quicksilver in X-Men: Days of Future Past, with none of the “wow” factor and about six times as much food all over the place.
I know this because I happen to be an expert on the subject. Mistakes, I mean, not painting walls with poop. If I were a superhero, my superpower would be perpetual regret, my costume would be medical bandages and a splint, and my battle cry would either be “I don’t think it was supposed to do that” or “Dammit, not again!”
That said, it’s time to talk about fitness, because one thing I’m *not* a master of is smoothly transitioning between thoughts, and because I tend to approach these things with all the subtlety of a rhinoceros in a china shop. Hooray for self-awareness.
I grew up with enough jiggly stuff under my skin to earn me the nicknames “Porky,” “Piggy,” “Cedie, the Flying Pig” (and no, I don’t understand that one, either – some of the kids I went to school with were just really creatively bankrupt and/or stupid, I guess) and a ton of other juvenile insults that I don’t even remember anymore. I lost a lot of weight as I entered, stumbled through, and did my very best to get the hell out of college, but I still wasn’t happy. After all, I wanted to be lean like Spider-Man, not shrimpy like a K-pop star.
Recently, the girlfriend (who appeared to be as thrilled about the thought of gymming as an arachnophobe would be about the prospect of buying a tarantula) and I paid a visit to the nearest branch of a local gym chain so that I could sign up for a membership. I’m 25 years old – if I don’t do this now, given my eating habits, I’ll soon reap the astounding benefits of being too lazy to exercise, with “Forever being unable to see my own feet” at the top of the list.
Anyway, so there I was, bravely facing the entrance to the rough equivalent of a metrosexual lion’s den, totally not being fazed by the gigantic promotional materials featuring really fit models (and one model who was visibly sucking his stomach in, I kid you not). My girlfriend and I were immediately ushered inside by a very pleasant gym staffer who looked like he could snap me in two with no effort.
To my chagrin, I realized that I may not have fully understood what I was planning to sign up for…
1. …When I first stepped in.
We proceeded to go on a guided tour of the facility and the different torture devi- gym equipment in the area. Apart from the usual benches, barbells, and dumbbells, they also had treadmills, stationary bikes, and an assortment of machines that look a lot more complicated than they’re supposed to (or actually are). I took a good look around and saw that most of the folks who were working out at the time already had great bodies, because clearly, I didn’t have enough reasons to hate myself yet.
Intimidating equipment + intimidating people = Intimidated Kyle, pretty much.
Still, I soldiered on, with the dream of someday putting on a black muscle shirt and not looking like a roll of sushi inspiring me to keep going. Of course, things got a bit more complicated…
2. …When I took my fitness assessment.
Our guide then led us to their, uh, measuring room (for lack of a better term), where details about my height, weight, and body mass index were obtained (thankfully, with my consent). This is what happened.
Guide: Sir Kyle, good news. Your body fat percentage is just 14%!
Guide: Unfortunately, your visceral fat is at three times the recommended “healthy” level.
From “jackpot” to “nutshot” in record time.
Never mind that I can squeeze into an XS shirt with no trouble – turns out I’m just as likely to die of a heart attack as any overweight chap whose idea of a light afternoon snack is an upsized Wendy’s Baconator meal. In fact, I’m actually surprised that I didn’t immediately die of one…
3. …When I found out how much a gym membership would cost.
The funny thing about an exclusive gym membership is that your wallet tends to slim down at about twice the rate your body does. Sure, there are cheaper options, like those twenty-peso kanto gyms full of sweaty bears who bench 800 pounds. Still, would you want to be in a twenty-peso kanto gym full of sweaty bears who bench 800 pounds when you can barely even lift a hundred?
When our guide told me exactly how much I’d need to shell out per month, I closed my eyes, swallowed, and said “yes.” As they say in Filipino, “Ginusto mo ‘yan, eh.” (“You asked for it.”)
Of course, at that point, the pain was just beginning.
I was told to come back the following week to get my I.D. and enjoy my very first (and FREE!!!!111one) session with a personal trainer. Naturally, things became even more interesting (and hilariously horrifying)…
4. …When I actually started working out.
I showed up three days later in training shorts, a jersey, and a smile that would turn into a pained frown in a matter of minutes.
My trainer was a nice, soft-spoken lady who started our session by making me run on a treadmill for fifteen minutes. As I used to participate in 5 km fun runs, I thought it would be a piece of cake. “Sure, no problem,” I said – one of many, many instances when I should have kept my mouth shut instead. A quarter-hour and a bucket of sweat later, my vision was spinning.
And of course, my trainer smiled and said, “We’re just beginning!”
I did crunches, push-ups, lunges, pull-ups, and a whole lot of silent cursing in between. “Strengthen your core,” said my trainer, when she noticed me taking the instruction “keep doing crunches to failure” and putting a little too much emphasis on the “failure” part. Strengthen my core, you say? Well, at my core was a fat little boy who loves cheesecake, cookies, and pie – what was I supposed to do?
The session lasted for an hour, but it felt like an eternity of Satan poking my baby fats with a burning spear. As soon as my instructor finished telling me that my flexibility and balance sucked more than a starving vampire, I made a dash for the drinking fountain. Come to think of it, it was less of a “dash” and more of a very tired foot-dragging.
Of course, whatever pain and humiliation I felt upon my rather disgraceful exit from the gym could not possibly compare to the suffering I had to endure…
5. …When I woke up the next day.
If I were to describe how I felt the next morning, I guess it would be like as if somebody pinned me down with a large refrigerator. I couldn’t move a muscle for five minutes, and I felt pain in joints I didn’t even know I had.
Now, don’t get me wrong – I don’t regret signing up. In fact, as the weeks pass by, I actually feel myself getting fitter and stronger. Signing up for a gym membership may have been a costly mistake at first, but it’s one mistake I certainly don’t regret.
Except whenever I come face-to-face with my new post-workout mortal enemy, that is.