Saturday, July 17, 2010

Monday Session Week 1

Monday 12th July: Intro – punchfit – spin

One thing that I didn’t make exactly clear in my previous posts: this is the first time I have ever been to a gym. Ever. Sometime in the early 90s I went into a gym, with a mind to join, but then they started asking difficult questions like “What do you want to improve?” and “How heavy are you?” and “Do you have a heart condition?” I didn’t know if I had a heart condition, and I wasn’t keen to use the gym as a diagnostic tool, so I never signed up and never went back.

So all weekend I have been stressing, really stressing, about doing this. Last week we got given a sheet of questions which was very difficult to fill out. (Have I had any trouble breathing in the last 12 months? Well yes, actually. I have asthma - is that going to be a problem? Oh I see. This is a form, not a dialogue. OK I’ll just worry about it in my head.) I’ve done fitness training before (work has previously hired a personal trainer who came into the office and got us to do stuff) but there’s something about going into a gym. It’s like crossing a line. There are people who’ve had sex, and people who haven’t, and you’re pretty much one or the other. You’ve either killed someone or you haven’t. You’ve either been to a gym or you haven’t. I was about to take a one way trip.

So I turn up, about 1 minute late, and everyone’s there. There are around 15 people from work doing it, and I expect some of them are surprised I have arrived. The trainer (let's call her Andrea) reminds us how important water is, and also tells us that they have this powder stuff, called ENDURO, that you should really put in your water, especially given we haven’t had breakfast. I, of course, have forgotten to bring water, so I borrow a water bottle from the gym, and put this powder into it. And that’s it for the intro: then we’re into it. She splits the group into 2 halves, one to do a boxing thing, and the other to do “spin”. We will switch halfway through the hour.

I start with the boxing. We pick gloves, pads and a partner. Then she takes us outside. By this time it’s about 7:15 on a Geelong mid-winter morning and it’s very cold. Why, I wondered, do they pay for real-estate, when they do things outside? Anyway, boxing is pretty straight forward. You punch into the pads, and then you swap the pads over, and then stand there while the guy with the gloves punches you. Except this isn’t boxing, it’s “punchfit”. So you punch, and then you jump and then you punch and then duck. It’s gets very tiring very quickly.

I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned how much I hate this.

And then she says “OK let’s run around this bit here, twice.” No one had mentioned running. It’s maybe a 20 metre circuit. We punch we run. I’m not sure how many laps we did, but it may have been 3. However, I’m losing it. I drop behind the others, I cut corners. I become the stereotypical fat man at the back of the pack. But then it’s over: our time is up. I’m actually feeling reasonably positive about all this, that wasn’t so bad. I go grab a drink (it tasted foul with the powder in it, and leaves a sticky residue on the inside of my mouth) and we head upstairs (stairs!) for the spin class.

For those that don’t know, spin is fancy modern talk for exercise bikes. I had been told that spin is great cos you can go your own pace and it’s a really good workout. I think people define  “great” and “really good” differently to how I do. So we pick a bike and a different woman, whose name I don’t know, takes us on a guided tour through hell.

This class had absolutely everything I had been dreading about coming to the gym. I didn’t realise that I had so much hatred to confirm until I sat on that bike for 20 minutes. Everything was artificial. The colours and the lights, the trainer, the enthusiasm, the godawful crap they made me put in the water (which meant that, no matter how thirsty I was I couldn’t take another drink) and oh my giddy aunt, the music. I love music, and I love almost all forms of music. It’s a very powerful force. It can reinforce a good mood, or help change a bad one. I even like a little bit of dance music. But music can also invoke feelings of rage. Especially if you’re a fat man on an exercise bike being enthused at by a woman with a fake tan. This is only one of the songs that was played, but it was stuck in my head for the rest of the day. I hated it when it came out, and I hate it now:

I notice it only goes for 3:59. I wonder if the trainer had a remix, or if she just managed to cram that much loathsomeness into 4 minutes. Regardless the song was in every way the perfect soundtrack for the session.

It finished and I thought “right, I’ve done that. I’m never doing spin again. It’s cut.” I am actually hoping that there are 12 distinct exercises each week that I can cut, so that by the end of the 12 weeks I will have cut everything. If they have less than 12 different exercises, I could be in trouble.

I almost fell down the stairs. My legs were shaking. “OH&S!” I thought. Of course I didn’t say it, because I couldn’t talk.

As we headed to the café my boss, whose idea this whole thing was, said “See, that was a bit of fun, wasn’t it?”. I managed to squeeze out a very incredulous “No, no it wasn’t” and she seemed genuinely surprised. I think she thought that once I did it, I would see that it was something I could enjoy. Maybe deep down I thought that too. It’s not.


  1. Oh dear. Great start much?

    I have a feeling they hire Spin trainers directly from the mental asylums.

    I have a story - a mate and I decided to get fit once (Piery) - we got all kitted out, drove down but couldn't find a park because the carpark was full. So we went to the pub.

    And didn't come back for five years.

  2. I like to start comments begining with "I".

    also apparently I , unlike you , like dance/house music.

    I've heard numreous Jackie remixes.. but never seen a vid-clip.. thanks for that. :)