Tag Archives: Workout

Return of the Gym Rat

I’ve decided I’d like to get ripped. Nothing too aggressive, just something that would look nice under a spray tan.

The decision comes as a result of several recent experiences, the most horrific of which being the morning my father told me that I looked, “Broad. Like a swimmer, Jo!” While I realize that this was probably a genuine attempt at a compliment, it was nonetheless devastating. I’ve always been a bit self-conscious of my shoulders — I was an early bloomer in middle school and once ripped a shirt in half while clapping. Over the years, I’ve done my best to avoid halter tops and overcome my insecurities. I’ll admit that I’ve even made some progress. But to have my stature likened to that Michael Phelps while wearing a new tennis tank was as a real tragedy, and I was immediately obligated to rethink my entire blazer collection. (I’d like to say that my dad soon redeemed himself from such a tactless comment, but moments later, he referred to my legs as “manscular.” The man has a gift.)

Another reason I’ve decided to get ripped is because I am embarrassingly weak (yes, even with such a “manscular” physique). I came to realize this when I decided to try out the whole “Pure Barre” fad. For the record, I’m not a Barre regular. Not only are the socks alone an ungodly financial commitment, but I’m fairly certain it’s an underground trafficking system for tennis bracelets and Lululemon. However, I was given the opportunity to attend a free class and, never one to turn down a freebie other than communal snacks, I decided to give it a shot.

I arrived at the studio in my trendiest yoga pants and thickest, most expensive pair of socks. I’d heard there was a barefoot component to the class, and I wasn’t taking any chances with potential skin-to-mat contact (ringworm is out there, and it’s only a matter of time before CrossFit sparks a worldwide epidemic). We began the class with a warm up, during which I was unable to complete a full push up. Red Flag Number One. Then, 10 minutes into the first routine, all of my cynical notions of the “Barre method” were completely debunked — that shit is hard. While the women around me were gracefully “pulsing” and “tucking” their “seats,” I was convulsing on the floor, grinning and clenching like a gassy old man. It was mortifying. I was physically unable to lift myself to a proper “tucking” position, so I instead used my free time to survey the crowd — Barre women are a breed all their own, and I was eager to observe them.

I looked around at my exceptionally flexible classmates, using the undercover creepy eye I honed in college, and quickly realized why people paid big bucks for the Barre method. The women were ripped. And I mean seriously cut. Before that moment, I’d only seen arms that sculpted on Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, a physical achievement I imagined to be made possible by tricks of lighting and expensive bronzer. But there they were, the arms of my dreams, flexing and “pulsing” before my very eyes! It was breathtaking. More than once, I tried to compare biceps in the mirror, but it useless — I was clearly the runt of the bunch, a travesty that no amount of self tanner could correct.

A young, stylish dog-whisperer. You'll notice my bowl-cut, as well.

“A Bowl-Cut and Bones.” People often referred to me as a style icon of my time.

Needless to say, I haven’t been back to Pure Barre. Neither my muscles, my ego, nor my wallet could handle a second appearance. I’ve never felt so weak, and I’ve since spent a substantial amount of time researching Shake Weights. In my defense, I’ve never been a particularly strong girl. Sure, I was fast at one point — but that was back in my youth when I was nothing but a bowl-cut and bones. Back when I was a swimmer, and all it took was some desperate flailing and a packet of Fun Dip to propel my lithe, boyish figure to first place. 

Now that I’m a mature woman of 25, I need more than an adventurous creek walk or rigorous talent show practice to maintain my shape. While I can always lean on a strategically applied spray tan to fudge some muscle definition, will that help in the long run? Will it further my dream of becoming a music video celebutante? Or perhaps most importantly, will it prepare my feeble biceps for the heft of an adult cat? I think not. And as I plan to groom the largest cat in the clowder during my first week as an official Humane Society volunteer, I cannot risk physical inferiority. If he’s to truly respect me, I must first assert myself as his queen.

So, these are the reasons that I’ve decided to start working out again. My first goal is to build enough definition to fill out a muscle tank, as I now look a bit like a house elf in them.

How I look in muscle tanks

How I look in muscle tanks

And with that stunning visual in mind, I hereby declare that it’s time to reinstate my forehead vein and revisit my career as a Gym Rat. Below is the proof.

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Gym Rat II

A few interesting things happened today while I was at the gym. For those of you who aren’t already aware of my incredibly rigorous gym routine, I suggest you read my Gym Rat post.

I was in the weight room networking with the heavy lifters. I approached my favorite arm machine as a man was getting off of it. We made awkward eye contact, and I asked him if he was finished. He said, “No, I’m not. But you can rotate in.”

My first thought was that this man was totally delusional. “Rotate in?” Did he seriously think I was going to be lifting more than one set? Before I could tell him that my personal trainer didn’t allow this sort of interaction with commoners, he ushered me into the machine. I was pissed off for a couple of seconds, but then it dawned on me: I had a workout partner.

This was the moment I’d been waiting for, the moment that would take my gym rat routine to the next level. I’ve never had a workout partner before, but I assumed it meant I was entering the big leagues and that I needed to stop wearing lip gloss to the gym. I gave him the once over, looking him up and down to take inventory of his assets. I decided that I’d like to see him put a little more effort into concealing his armpit hair, but other than that, he’d do. Being the creep that I am, I began to think about our potential together. Our relationship would start innocently enough, but eventually we’d become more than just workout partners. We’d pump iron together then hit the town in matching Affliction tees, arm wrestling anyone who dared challenge us.

I started to lift, feeling a little uncomfortable that he was standing right behind me as I was fully fantasizing about our future together. After about 5 reps, I hopped off and let him take his turn. I realized I’d lost him as a workout partner when he looked at the weight stack and noticed I had been lifting a mere 25 lbs. After finishing a machine, I usually move the weight stack from my typical 15-25 lbs to a more impressive amount, such as 90-100 lbs. That way, the next person that gets on is blown away by my strength and athleticism. Unfortunately, I forgot to move it this time so my man learned the true feebleness of my upper body.

He sat down, leaving me standing awkwardly behind him. I then realized that I had no idea what to do while I was waiting to “rotate in.” I felt perhaps I should look revved up for my next set so I started jogging in place. I shook my arms out and moved my head from side to side, pretending someone was filming me for an Eminem/8 Mile music video montage.

He got up, returned the weight stack to 25 lbs and said, “have at it, it’s all yours.” I knew what he meant was, “have at it, it’s all yours, and don’t quit until you can lift something a little heavier than a kindergartner,” but I let it go. We’d had a moment together and I didn’t want to ruin the memory.

The next thing I saw was a man wearing a shirt that said “Beer is food.” I have a couple of bones to pick with this man. First of all, he had a build that I didn’t know was possible to obtain this far from the Jersey Shore. He was huge. His neck was enormous, and I immediately wanted to accessorize it with a hemp and/or pukka shell choker-necklace. He purposely underestimated his t-shirt size, which is my first problem with him. Why this man thinks his t-shirt size hasn’t changed since middle school is beyond me. Nevertheless, I had a clear view of his steroid-induced physique and I kind of enjoyed looking at it while I was “in between sets.”

Aside from his nipple-hugging crop top, the other problem I have with him is the statement on his shirt. A huge beer fan myself, I completely agree that beer can sometimes be food. Give me a tall brew with a spoonful of peanut butter and I’ll be good for a couple of hours. I do not think that this man would agree. There is no way a man with a build like that thinks that beer is food. I’ve seen people who adhere to that standard, and I’m here to tell you that the result is not as well sculpted. Unless he spikes his Mich Ultras with adderall and whey protein, I think he is a liar.

So that was my day at the gym. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll stay for more than 30 minutes.

Gym Rat

(moved from previous blog)

To work off some of the stress of job hunting, I joined a gym. Little did I know, I joined the one gym that’s home to Louisville’s most attractive men. So, I’ve decided to become a gym rat, or at least look like one, in hopes of being recruited for a lead role in Ronnie’s next Xenodrine commercial.

First, I do the elliptical until my vision gets spotty and I’ve reached the maximum daily dosage on my inhaler  (this varies from 10-20 minutes depending on my pre-workout snack). I used to run on the treadmills in the cardio theater, but they often play action movies in there and the loud explosions scare me. I tune into Wimbledon and make all the appropriate faces and noises whenever someone hits the ball especially hard. When the moment feels right, I throw in a fist pump to make sure everyone knows I’m into it. I’m considering wearing a tennis skirt tomorrow to really seal the deal.

When I finally feel myself breaking into a cold sweat, I hop off the elliptical and head to the weight room. I nod and shake my head as if I’m listening to an incredibly motivational techno playlist. Today it was Nsync’s No Strings Attached album.

Now I’m ready to pump some iron. I sit down on a machine, throw back my head and pour water into my mouth, making sure to hold the bottle at least five inches from my mouth as I’ve seen done in Gatorade commercials. I pump the weights, clench my jaw and try to make my forehead vein as visible as possible. I feel like a total gym rat, until someone looks over and notices that I’m only chest pressing 15 lbs. My cover is blown.

I usually stick to the same few machines after one particularly traumatic experience. A few weeks ago, I decided to try a new leg press machine. I walked around it, fiddling with all the knobs and buttons, acting like I knew exactly what angle was best for my muscles. I guess I accidentally unlocked something because as soon as I sat down and leaned back, I fell flat on my back. I landed with a pretty audible bang, and it has taken me weeks to redeem my street cred.