I joined a gym the other day.  Now that I’m employed full-time and have health insurance, it seemed like the next logical step in this whole journey toward adulthood.  Also, if I’m being completely honest, it’s been too cold to go running outside and the lack of running in my life has started to affect my ability to sleep.  Normally, this time of year, I just blame the people who don’t shovel their sidewalks for why I can’t run outside.  This makes me feel persecuted and gives me the healthy glow of righteous rage.  This year, I have no one to blame but myself and my sensitive, wimpy lungs.

The last gym I joined was the Jewish Community Center, which I picked because I had a coupon.  I signed up, got a tour, got my photo taken and that was it.  This time around, I signed up for Bally Total Fitness and the experience was much more involved.  I was in the office, giving my details to a very chipper lady, when this hulked-out Intense Trainer came in and crushed my hand with an overly-firm handshake.

He then proceeded to stand in that wide-legged arms crossed way that very fit people tend to do (because their muscles are so bulky, I assume), and he demanded “where were you working out before this?”

“Nowhere for the last three years.” I told him, “Just running outside.”

“With that body?” He said skeptically.

“Yes.”  I wasn’t really sure what to say to that, and I felt a bit like this was some sort of trainer mind trick designed to make me feel like I belong at the gym or something.  Also, running is supposed to be a great workout, why would I not be fit if that’s what I do?

“Well, you must have been an athlete in High School.” He insisted.

“No, I mean I’ve always been active, but I didn’t play any sports.”

“How many meals do you eat in a day?”

I’ve been asked a lot of questions in my life, but this was one of the strangest and hardest to answer.  Also, I felt like so far in our exchange, I had disappointed this guy many times, and I wanted to please him.  So I said “Three?  Sometimes three and a snack?”  The problem is, I’m still getting used to my new work schedule.  I used to have an early very small breakfast, go running and then have a late breakfast around 11am.  Then I’d have lunch around 3pm, dinner at 6pm and a late night snack (that was usually bigger than it should have been) at 10:30pm.  But that’s all changed now and not only am I barely working out, but I’m also eating meals at normal times, and I’m really not used to any of it.

Finally, Intense Trainer left the room, and I had a chat with More Normal Trainer Who Also Has Huge Arms.  MNTWAHHA asked more reasonable questions like “what are your fitness goals?” and “what do hope to get out of a gym membership?”

Unfortunately, my answers to these questions were no more intelligent than the answers I had given to Intense Trainer.  What I hope to get out of a gym membership, is access to a gym for those days when I don’t want to run outside, and possibly some classes.  I don’t have a real plan, or a real goal other than wanting to run faster and drop a few pounds.  “What do you want to learn?”  MNTWAHHA asked me, and I really had nothing to say to him.

Is this a sign that I’ve joined a super-serious gym, or should I maybe not have strolled in there in my super-wicking workout gear feeling a bit smug about my personal level of fitness?  Most of the other people I saw working out there were pretty old and did not look Olympics-bound, but it was also about 9:30am, so I assume all the super-fit assholes were already at work for the day.

I have an appointment with MNTWAHHA Monday morning and my homework is to “think of something you want me to teach you.”  Doesn’t that seem like something the trainer should just do?  I mean, how do I know what I need to know?  We’re in a post Biggest Loser world where I just expect every trainer to yell at me until I confess some dark secret that makes me overeat, but that doesn’t really apply in my case.

Any suggestions for what I should learn?  If anyone has particular questions they’d like answered by a certified personal trainer, I can pretend they’re my own and get some info.

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