Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Passion For Exercise; Muscles Aren’t The Only Thing With A Memory

“A body in motion tends to stay in motion, but a body at rest tends to stay at rest.”
~Isaac Newton

There’s been a rotten rat-bastard of a cold going around this season. It hit my office building shortly before Thanksgiving, but I didn’t catch it until December 15th. I know that because I was at a show in Boston when it hit me, which made watching the show pure torture. It came on like gangbusters and didn’t let go, at least not entirely, until yesterday. Yup. January 15th. A full month. See what I mean? It truly was a rotten rat-bastard of a cold. Because I was sick for such a long time, I fell off the gym wagon in favor of pushing fluids, crashing on The Velvet, and in general doing anything “restful” in an attempt to feel human again. But today, feeling about 98% healthy, I decided to head out to the gym and see if I could fight off that whole “body at rest” theory, and get back to feeling like Isaac Newton rather than a pile of Fig Newtons.

The worst thing about being a body at rest is talking yourself into the idea that you’ll feel better after the gym. Your body says “No, I won’t, I’ll feel sweaty and tired” and you find yourself procrastinating. I found myself wandering around the house “getting ready” for what seemed like forever. I had to split into two personalities and fight with myself. (According to my buddy Isaac, I have to be acted on by an outside force in order to become a body in motion.)

“Get dressed. We’re leaving in 15 minutes.”
“Ok, but let me just wash these breakfast dishes first.”
“Um, hello? I said 15 minutes, get it in gear, you can wash them when we get home.”
“Ok…ok… I’m dressed. Was that the dryer? Let me fold those clothes or they’ll wrinkle.”
“What the hell are you doing?! Folding clothes?! NO! Move it! Go get your sneakers… NOW!”
“Awww… do I have to?”

25 minutes later I find myself finally “ready” and head out the door, armed with water, my iPod, and my trusty gym membership card. As I drive to the gym, I formulate a work out plan. Sort of an inner pep-talk. “Ok, you haven’t been to the gym in a month. Don’t expect to waltz in there and rip it up like you were there two days ago. You’re going to get a good stretch, get on a treadmill, and just walk. Walk and walk and walk. Eventually, you’ll cross the line into the work out zone.” (The work out zone, in case you don’t know that you have one, is the place inside you where you LOVE to work out. If you’ve never crossed the line into the work out zone, you’re totally missing out. It’s inside you, trust me, even if you’ve never known about it.)

Entering the gym after a long period of time is kind of like trying to take a large, knowing dog to the vet. I literally have to drag myself into the building, balking all the way, telling the groaning, whining, lazy couch potato inside me to shut up. I know that once I manage to force her over that line, she will come around to my way of thinking.

I go into the stretching area and begin by stopping all the noise. That is to say, I clear my head, take a couple of deep breaths, and forget all the arguing with myself. I’m here. There’s no going back. Isaac has won. I go through a series of stretches and breathing exercises that loosens everything up, pushes the stress out of my mind, and begins to burn off the fog that blocks the path to the work out zone. Once on the treadmill, it’s all about walking at a slow and steady pace. I haven’t done a damn thing in weeks. Keeping it slow and steady and walking in an almost meditational way, I feel all the phases of shaking off the cobwebs.

First, the dread: I have to be on this thing for HOW MANY minutes???
Second, the reality: Oh good Lord, it’s only been six minutes so far???
Third, the bargaining: What if I only do ¾ of that? It’s my first day back… Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Fourth, the realization: Wait… my back is loosening up… what if I do some shoulder rolls while I walk?
Fifth, the reconciliation: Ah, yes… this is the best way to warm up in the winter! I forgot about that!
Finally: The passion and insatiable desire for lifting weights and feeling “the burn” slowly overtakes me … I’ve entered The Work Out Zone.

“See? Didn’t I tell you that you’d feel better?”
“Yeah, yeah, shut up. Hey! Can we do weights after this?!”
“Yes, but remember, it’s been a month, you have to be conscious of your limits.”
“Ugh, shut up! We’ve got a month to make up for, and besides, look how good we’re doing on the treadmill! We’re going faster than usual and at a higher incline! Maybe we needed that rest! Damn, we should have done the elliptical instead. Why’d you make me get on this thing, anyway?”

Before I know it, I’m pumping iron like I never left, at I’m one with my inner couch potato as we settle our differences and agree never to fight each other again.


  1. LOVE this blog!!!!!!! So proud of you and SO happy to be reading what you write. You got some kinda talent my friend. :) xxx

  2. Wow... HEY WORLD, DID YOU HEAR THAT?! FRANCESCA'S PROUD OF ME!!! Sorry for yelling, my friend. It's just... When I grow up, I want to be you. Thank you, and I love you!!