Friday, January 6, 2012

The Stair Master of Doom

You might remember a while ago I mentioned having bought a pair of gym shoes and other gym related gear.  Well I did make it along to the gym and even joined up.  This is my experience so far.

I got all dressed up in my new gears and went to the gym with my friend to sign up back in November.  Now this friend is rather fit unlike me.  She disputes that she is quite as fit as I think she is but I’m telling you a person who harbours a treadmill in her basement and actually uses it, to run not walk, most days of the week and then goes to the gym and climbs on the stair master for upwards of 30 minutes is classified as fit in my book.  

I have very little experience with gyms and although I have belonged to a couple of them in my lifetime it was so long ago that I had forgotten what to do.  I decided to try my hand (or rather feet) at the stair master as I had heard this is a wonderful piece of equipment for not only the wobbly behind areas but for the whole body.  I climbed aboard what resembled a short escalator and started climbing.  Now this machine doesn’t stop.  It only consists of three or four steps but woe betide if you should get behind. It will spit you out and leave you in a heap on the floor.  I started climbing, feeling pretty good with myself.  Then it started to hurt, my legs were burning, my breath was coming out in short sharp bursts, my heart was thumping.  How on earth could this be good for me?  I looked at the control panel to see that I had been climbing for approximately 35 seconds.  My friend was on the very next stair master of doom and she was cheerfully chit chatting to me as she bounded up multiple flights of stairs.  I figured I could break through the pain and keep going.  I pushed myself to the absolute limit of what I could handle, until I could go no more, I had to get off this monster of a machine before it unceremoniously spat me out.  I looked again at the control panel so that I could gauge how well I had done and possibly brag to James later on.  I had lasted 3 minutes 30 seconds.

I decided to check out the weight machines.  I kind of figured I should try and tone some of my arm muscles since they have been slowly slipping southwards for a number of years.  In fact it has gotten to the point that I can’t wave goodbye to anyone lest I knock myself out with a wayward piece of what should be a tricep.  I found a couple of machines that focused on these areas.  I really didn’t have a clue what I was doing so I lifted a few weights and decided I was done.  

Then I found them, the machine I had been dreaming of my whole life.  It kind of combined my love of relaxing with my need for exercise.  Yes, I had found the reclining exercise bike.  I quite like bikes but the regular kind that you ride around outside kind of scare me.  I’ve always wondered what I would do if I should cycle somewhere and then be too worn out to get back home again.  I have visions of myself stuck in the middle of nowhere waiting for days to regain enough strength to get back again.  I moved towards these dream bikes and noticed that most of those who were at that time using them were well advanced in years.  Never mind, I found a bike and attempted to get onto it.  Getting on the bike involves lifting one’s leg rather high over the middle section.  I could only do it while leaning right back and kind of reaching my leg out in front of me.  This in turn caused me to become slightly unbalanced and I not so gracefully hopped up and down on one foot until I finally managed to get myself seated.  

From there it was easy, I just pedalled away and since I had decided on ‘fat burn’ as my program of choice it wasn’t really too taxing since apparently you need to keep the heart rate reasonably low in order to achieve the fat burn.  

Getting off the bike was a different story.  I tried to lift my leg back over the middle section and it just wouldn’t go.  I tried to stand up and drag my leg over the middle section and that didn’t work either because my bottom had lost all sense of feeling from sitting on the hard seat for so long that there were unnatural pains shooting all over it.  I inched my way to the edge of the seat and then grasped my leg with my hands and lifted it over kind of like a person who has no use of their legs does to position themselves properly in a wheelchair.  At that moment I felt like a wheelchair would have been a wonderful thing to have.

I was booked in for a meeting with a trainer so that they could figure out how unfit I really was and then work out a plan for me to follow to maximise my time at the gym.  I was very excited about this meeting because besides having no clue what I was doing I had found out that they tell you what your internal age is.  I was curious to see how old my body seemed to be on the inside and whether it was in any way close to how old I really am.  

I went to the meeting and they weighed and measured and BMI’d me until my head was spinning.  The trainer took me around and made me do different exercises that were quite frankly a little cruel.  Then the time came for the moment of truth.  He showed me a picture depicting how I currently looked (quite hideous) and how I would look in August of 2012 if I should keep coming to the gym (rather attractive) and then they tried to scare me with how likely it was that I would die of heart disease, diabetes or a stroke (apparently almost guaranteed) and then they showed me three numbers.  The first was my actual age, the second was the age I am on the inside and the third was the age I was aiming to be at after going to the gym until August.  Now normally the three numbers are different.  They give your actual age, a number slightly higher than your actual age and then a number a little lower than your actual age.  

They told me that my internal age is 43.  Now I would have no problem being 43 if I was actually 43, I know people who are 43 and they’re really rather nice.  I have nothing against being 43 but I’d like to wait until I am actually 43 to enjoy being 43.  I am in fact only 36.  To add insult to injury they set my target age to 36.  Apparently they believe it is impossible for me to go below my actual age.  I am just that unfit.

They set me up with another appointment to meet with a different trainer to get me going with a routine.  I was very excited about this because I just cannot remain at 43 on the inside and I need all the help I can get.  I got there bright and early for my appointment a few days later and found that I was to meet with a cute little nursing student who was all perky and upbeat.  She was gorgeous, looked totally fit and healthy and clearly would know a lot about the human body since she was in her final year of study.  I felt sure she could help me achieve my goals with a minimal amount of pain and suffering.

It turns out she is cruel and sadistic.  She made my body do things that seemed so innocently easy and yet by that afternoon I could barely move.  she called it a ‘whole body workout’ and helpfully wrote down the names of the exercises for me so I would know how to do them again, if I could ever move that is.  She told me that I shouldn't do that particular workout again the next day but should just focus on cardio ‘then you can do it the next day if you like’ she said cheerfully.  I wondered how on earth I would be able to lift my leg high enough to get on that bike the next day as I stumbled out the door aching from head to toe.  

I felt my muscles tightening on the way home and there was nothing I could do about it.  I got home and tried to go upstairs and was reduced to crawling.  I made it to the shower and the hot water loosened me up slightly, just enough to be able to get dressed again (thank goodness for small blessings).  I spent the next few days in agony and then it was time to do that routine all over again.  I wasn’t even sure I would be able to move but I made it through and thankfully the initial pain wore off.

The kids asked me what I do at the gym and I tried to explain.  They were excited when I said I rode a bike but confused when I said that I didn’t go anywhere.  Then I told them I sat down and stood up lots of times and then laid down and sat up lots of times and by then it all sounded so ridiculous I gave up trying to explain.  

I suddenly realised that with just a few small props I could practically do that whole routine in my own living room.  All I would need to do is to imagine that people were going to arrive for a visit in about 10 minutes time and I would be all set for the warm up.  Then it would just be a matter of some moderate forgetfulness and I would be all ready for the next section.  I could sit on the couch and stand up to go somewhere then suddenly forget what I was doing and sit down again.  Repeat that 15 times and I’ve done my squats.  Then do a few push ups on the side of the couch (as you do) and repeat three times.  

Then I would start to go up the stairs, get both feet on the first step and forget where I was going and step down again.  Repeat this 10 times and team up with lifting some jugs of milk while standing on one leg.   Not sure how I would replicate the cable row but I could definitely do the planking and the sit ups and butt blaster would be easy.

So why do I pay to go and embarrass myself in front of people much fitter and I am three times a week?  Well its simple really, in 36 years on this planet I have not taken the time to exercise in my own home (except that one time I watched an aerobics video while sitting on the couch) and I am in desperate need of a fitter and healthier body.  So far I have been going for almost 2 months and have only missed a couple of sessions.  I don’t notice a huge difference in the way I look yet (maybe some clothes are a little looser) and I still struggle to want to go but its in my calendar and that makes it official.


  1. Love it! Stairmaster of doom, you crack me up. Let's do it again, I bet you can double your time!

  2. You're doing so well! I noticed you looked different last time I saw you - Christmas Eve, I think. You are just getting prettier. :) Do you feel stronger? That's what I notice first. More energy and stronger during workouts. I'm only on week 2. :) You will help me keep motivated. Miss you and hope you're all well! Hopefully my kids will be healthy for playgroup this week.