The moment I try to move, every muscle in my body protests. Getting out of bed or up from a chair, bending, going down stairs. Ouch, ouch, ouch! If I sit still for a few minutes, I almost feel normal until I try to stand. The cause of this betrayal is not hard to pinpoint. I was showing off at the gym yesterday.
We go to the gym at 5am most days for a regular circuit of machines, and sets of sit-ups, push-ups, pull-ups, and free weights. At that hour there aren’t any group classes, so I’m on my own. While I prefer to think I’m being consistent, I sense I’m easing up on some of the weights or the number of reps, compared to how I exercised when I had a personal trainer. When I was new to the gym I wanted to learn how to use the various machines, and a personal trainer was a great start. But when there is no longer a coach telling me to run faster on the treadmill, or do more squats, I have tended to be less intense. Sure, I’m there regularly, and that’s got to count for something, but I may be substituting a memory of athleticism for the actual thing.
I used to run outside. Miles and miles after work, and races on the weekends. But now the only running I do is on a treadmill. Not terribly fast, but with an incline to make it more challenging. While I was just finishing last week, a gym trainer asked if I’d like to come to a complimentary group exercise class on Saturday. I had been thinking about taking the class for some time, but hadn’t acted, so I thought, this is perfect! I’ll try it for free and see if I like it.
When I showed up for the class, I was clearly the oldest person there – by a lot – but I thought, he wouldn’t have asked me if he didn’t think I could do it. I was fitted with a heart rate monitor so that my stats would be displayed on multiple screens in the room along with the other class members. Feeling a little competitive and determined to keep up, I did everything the trainer asked. Kettle ball swings, squats, push-ups, sprinting on the treadmill, rowing with one arm, and then the other. When I wasn’t looking at my heart rate on the screen, I saw my bright pink face on the mirrored wall. Near the end, my thighs were already starting to hurt.
I don’t want to race, or enter a body-building contest, I just want to stay in reasonable shape and stave off the dreaded wiggly upper arms. But it seems, the older I get, the more work is required to “maintain”. So I was back at the gym this morning, a bit chastened and hobbled, trying to work out some of the muscle pain. Oof!