Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Worst Impressions

“Friggen lightweight,” I sneer silently as the skinny blonde with the loud pants half-assedly plods on the elliptical machine, a hot-pink smartphone pressed to her cheek. Eight minutes later she’s gone, and my geek’s mind involuntarily calculates exactly how few calories she just burned and how infinitesimally little her abbreviated romp on the machine just affected her fitness. My eyes roll, but I’m not surprised. I’m never on the cardio floor for fewer than sixty-five minutes, and everyone who’s there when I first arrive has left by the time I step off the treadmill. Hell, anyone who gets there within half an hour of my starting will have vanished before I’m done. I arrive first and leave last.

Forty minutes later I’ve made a quick trip to the locker room to stow the iPod, refill the water bottle, and retrieve my log book and stopwatch. I make my way over to the dumbbell corner and am startled to find The Blonde standing there, facing the window. My surprise quickly boils to annoyance when I spy a small pile of equipment at her feet, including the dumbbells- my dumbbells- I always use during my routine: The 10-pound polygonals; the ones that don’t roll away when you’re supporting yourself on them. I shoot her with some hollow-point eye bullets before grumbling and begrudgingly yanking the next-heaviest weights from the rack.

While I’m scribbling down my workout plan in the log book, Blondie pulls a 2-foot-high stool from the wall and begins hopping sideways onto the thing, back and forth- with perfect form- over and over again. It doesn’t sound like much, perhaps, but the average person would be lucky to do five of these things (if any) without beginning to flail like an idiot. I harrumph and begin with a set of goblet squats.

A while later I’m doing some mountain climbers and wondering, as my face burns and the blood pressure in my head throbs to a migrane-level crescendo, if this is what it feels like to be trapped in a microwave oven before your skull explodes. I hear a delicate feminine grunt to my left and glance over to see The Blonde doing pushups with her feet suspended from an overhead bar. She’s pushing her full body weight, her face expressionless and calm. It occurs to me that her few minutes on the elliptical had been a warm-up, whereas half the people who come here would consider that the main event. Hell, she probably sleeps on a treadmill, I’m thinking.

A few minutes on and I’m working through my second set, groaning through some increasingly laborious dumbbell rows when behind me I hear a racket not dissimilar to what Ebeneezer Scrooge must have heard when Jacob Marley first shuffled into that dark bedroom. I peek around to spy That Damned Blonde dragging a hundred and fifty pounds behind her on a chain. “Who ARE you?” I ask telepathically.

I’m soon struggling through my second round of T-pushups and my muscles are inching toward failure. “Please let me just finish out this minute,” I beg my shoulders, and they grant me just enough juice to reach the 59-second mark, at which point I crumple to the floor and fumble for the stopwatch. My water bottle empty, my shirt towel-wet with sweat, I replace my weights and collect my things. And for the first time since I’ve been doing this I am the last to enter and the first to leave.

Forgive me, Aryan she-hulk of the Northwest- for I knew not your prowess.