The insides of my elbows hurt. How is that even possible? What’s even in there?
Today I went back to the gym. It was 6-ish in the morning and many sweaty bodies were already punishing themselves.
I dutifully hopped on the treadmill to do my 5 minute warm-up. As I wandered the belted highway I glanced out at the sea of machines. My trainer had texted me a collection of letters and numbers that I was to decipher into some sort of exercise routine.
Once my heart rate was up and my mind a little clearer I walked with confidence toward the bent and twisted steel with random pads and moving parts. Some looked familiar from a past life of gym false starts. Some looked fun. Some looked torturous. Many were mysterious.
Today is legs and shoulders. I pick the leg extension machine. It’s on my list. I adjust the seat and experiment with weights – my trainer is evidently trusting me to determine this minor detail as those numbers were not included in the hieroglyphics. I do 4 sets of 12. Feeling accomplished I saunter down the row looking for anything familiar. I spot the seated leg curl machine.
I sit down. I stand up. I adjust the seat. I play with the weights. I slide my legs over the seat, under the knee pad and reach for the padded roller that my Achilles tendon is to rest on, with the heel of my right foot. The knee pad is blocking my progress. I twist a little in the seat to see if I can angle one foot up to crank the pad down. I am kicking at it like I’m trying to dislodge it from under my couch.
The twist and lean is not working. I notice the gentlemen to my left has pulled something to lower the roller then effortlessly swung his ankles over the pad. I yank on levers that are not levers but solid bars meant for me to grip when I grunt with barred teeth as I push the roller down. Which may never happen. I look over at the weights. I grab the rubber thingy that acts a pulley to see if I can lift it enough to drop the roller.
My hand comes away with black grease all over it that I will likely wipe on my face before I exit this contraption. And the weights do not budge.
I am not meant to use this machine.
I walk around like I’m taking a break between sets. Just breathing. You know.
I spy a similar leg curl machine on which one lies belly down. I like the looks of it. I lower myself on the giant pad, kick my feet under the two rollers and reach for the hand grips. As I curl my fingers around the handles I slide forward losing contact with the foot pads, defeating the purpose. Clearly this machine is set up for [insert giant man-beast here]. I get up, adjust anything that will move and flop back down. Contact. I pull my heels toward my glutes for 2 sets. Done.
On to shoulder presses. I find the machine quickly, pick a weight and pump like a pro.
There are at least four more puzzles to be solved, but I have squandered my allotted half hour and walk back toward my comfort zone – the treadmill.
As I adjust the speed and incline randomly to the encouragement of Lady Gaga and the Black Eyed Peas, I glance up at the televisions accidentally catching the image of the ISIS/ISIL executioner with his weapon of death held aloft while looking down at the young reporter he will kill. My body begins to shake. I am punched in the heart. I cannot look away quickly enough.
On the adjacent screen is some vapid reality show on the fascinating, tumultuous lives of women wrestlers.
I am struck by the reality dichotomy in which we live. For a moment I am dismayed to the point of abandoning this ridiculousness. Why bother? What is the point?
Then I remember, I must first lift the veil and scrub my energy clean so that I can reveal my own inner light. So I can be part of the solution. Defeat is not an option. I must do this.
With a renewed resolve I turn up the volume on my trusty iPod and plug into my body. I become present with every movement, every sensation. I feel my heart rate rise and fall as I adjust the incline. I slow my breathing down as I speed up my pace, experimenting with my own capacity.
I am a soldier for peace. I am a warrior of light. That is the cause for which I am working.