A few years ago, Becky and I had enough disposable income to pay for a monthly gym membership and for the first time in my life, I was one of those cool, not-so-exclusive members to a local workout Mecca.
I had convinced my wife this was a necessary expense as the summer days here in Texas were getting rough and running for hours outside, even at 6am when it should have been moderately cool, was getting to be pretty ridiculous.
Of course, what was really going on in my head was a running scene of me entering the gym looking normal and walking out with Schwarzenegger’s body (think more Predator and less Expendables). It was a chance for me to work hard and see what this body could do. Turns out the short answer to this story is not much.
I spent the first day with a trainer (because it was free) and he was awesome. So good, in fact, I was rendered immobile for the next day and didn’t go back to the gym for about 10 days after as I waiting for the soreness in my body to reside.
After finally returning, I was able to take some of the knowledge I had learned from him and apply it to my own workout routine. How to appropriately work and adjust the machines, keeping good form with free weights and, most importantly, maintaining good gym etiquette by wiping off any actual or imaginary beads of sweat from the seat. (Oh, and skinny dipping in the lap pool is not just “frowned upon”.)
It seemed to be going well and I was actually noticing some progress in the amount of weight I could handle but I never really noticed much in terms of body transformation.
So, I decided I needed to push myself a little harder and added a little more weight to the bar for my bench press. Well…maybe A LOT more weight. I got myself in position under the bar and took a deep breath before exerting every ounce of energy I had to push the bar off of its secure rest and over my very unsecure chest. Remembering my free training session, I slowly brought the weights down and prepared to push them back up for my first rep.
Unfortunately, the weights just kept coming down until the bar found a resting spot on my chest. My arms had already called it a day and I was stuck. A few thoughts went through my head at that moment.
1. I wonder if anyone is seeing this right now and just waiting for me to call for help? (This wasn’t the case as it was in one of those in-between hours when all the early birds have left and the second shift of gym rats haven’t woken up yet)
2. If I die like this, I wonder what the picture will look like when the news posts in the evening?
3. Did I even remember to add the weight stop things to the end of the bars?
Thankfully, the answer to question #3 was no and I was able to tilt the bar to one side and the weights slide off and then pop off of me as the bar fell to the other side still racked with hundreds and hundreds (or maybe just 30) pounds of solid steel.
The gym membership didn’t last too much longer and I went back to accepting that this body of mine, as long and thin as it is, will mostly remain this way (barring getting slightly fluffy from inactivity and over-indulgence of baking) and that’s ok.
At this point in my life, nothing about working out for the sake of it working out appeals to me at all. I enjoy sports and any group activities with a point, but the thought of getting together with others and pushing myself a little bit more each time just to say I can is not something I want or ever plan to do.
So, in the spirit of acceptance, I have come up with my own top ten benefits to having a body like a stick figure drawing.
#1 Less Wind Resistance – Walking sideways in Chicago was soooo easy.
#2 Easier to Hide Behind Stuff – You know when you see someone from a distance before they see you and you really aren’t prepared to engage in a conversation. Well, while the rest of the world is stuck having to run away or pretend they are on an important call, I can just find a nearby pole or young sapling and wait for the person to pass.
#3 Ahead of the Lean Muscle Craze – Sure, biceps were all the rage at one point but it seems to be all about lean muscle these days and I could NOT be happier! It may be bordering more on the non-existent for me but I’m pretty sure I can still pass for someone mildly athletic and invested in his body.
#4 Flying is a Real Possibility – Who doesn’t want to be able to majestically soar with the eagles. With this wingspan to weight ratio, I am closer than 99% of the planet at accomplishing this feat.
#5 Inspiring Others in Their Feats of Strength – Don’t know why, but no matter what age you get, it just makes you feel good to know you can pick up another human and carry them. Usually, this ends when the person exits toddlerhood, but ask my wife how cool it is that she can carry her husband around like a giant baby. I’m happy to give that feeling to anyone.
#6 Reaching the Unreachable – This one might be coupled with length, but you know how frustrating it is to have your food get stuck in a vending machine? I don’t. Doesn’t matter if it is all the way up on A-1, I am going to twist and maneuver my arm all the way up there and grab that Mrs. Baird’s Cinnamon Roll, which apparently has a shelf-life of infinity.
#7 Bony-ness is Effective in Sports – Ask anyone who has played basketball with me and they will tell you their two biggest complaints (other than I reach around will my long arms as they drive past me and knock the ball out of their hands) is that they get bruises from running into my elbows and hips. Seriously, the phrase “sharp hips” have been used on dozens of occasions.
#8 Food Consumption is No Longer an Issue – Other than my ongoing fear of developing Type-2 diabetes from the array of sweets I ingest, I basically eat whatever I want and as little or as much as I want too. Most days this is great because my body is so thin I don’t need much to fuel it. Great for grocery shopping and the pocketbook.
#9 Saves Time – There is absolutely ZERO reason for me to look in the mirror. Morning routine is and has always been the same. Brush teeth…rinse face…take care of any other bathroom necessities…get on with the day.
#10 Inconspicuous at Watching Parties – Whether it’s a UFC Fight, play-off basketball game or the Super Bowl, I will never be in the way. Think about that the next time some beefy dude starts talking to you in the middle of the big game or fight you have been waiting to see for months. You can literally have a full conversation with me and still watch the game at the same time because I only block 5% of the TV. You’re Welcome!