In which your ‘umble Accordion Player talks about the gym where everybody in the city seems to go and gets suckered into a physical activity whose practitioners he used to mock mercilessly.
Douglas Adams would’ve worked out here, and my unwittingly shameful act
I joined my gym in the middle of March, and over time, it’s turned out to be the Gymnasium at the Centre of the Universe. I ran into a half-dozen people I knew when I first set foot into the place to sign up for a membership, and I’ve been running into more friends there ever since. My plans to become the accordion-playing King of Queen Street are slowly falling into place.
There are two people I no longer see at the gym are my friend Will “Dean Cain” McLean and my trainer Mike “The Vollminator” Vollmer. Will no longer works at the gym, and Mike’s just…missing. Nobody, not even his co-workers, know where’s he’s run off to. Someone mentioned that he was in serious training for some kind of bodybuilding competition and that he was looking more ripped than ever, but that was over a month ago. Maybe he won, and he’s part of some touring posedown show. It may also be that the KISS tribute band in which Mike plays guitar is touring, in which case there’s an unusually musclebound Bruce Kulick impersonator in full makeup playing in a small town bar near you.
Some of my friends at the gym have been trying to get me to join Body Attack. I watched it for a while, and while it was tempting — what straight guy doesn’t want to spend an hour in a room full of women throwing punches to Fatboy Slim? — it seemed more in the league of my friend Amber, who’s a dance instructor and find nothing strenuous about teaching dance for eight hours a day and attending two hour-long aerobics classes to top it off. From a cardiovascular point of view, it seemed pretty out of my league. I’m usually knackered after 45 minutes on the elliptical exerciser (a machine that mimic the motions of cross-country skiing), so I was sure that I wouldn’t make it through a full hour of Body Attack. I had visions of me slinking out of the room with all the women going “tsk, tsk, boy’s got no stamina.” I’d have to throw myself in front of a speeding truck after that.
I think it was my friend Danielle who first suggested that I join Body Attack. Then Amber suggested the same a couple of days later, followed by Michelle, whom I’d met the week before at a barbecue thrown by Amber. My co-worker Mark suggested that most guys, especially computer programmers, would kill to have three women invite them to their gym class. It turned out that Mark, along with Bryan, antoher co-worker, also went to that gym.
“We should go check out Body Attack,” Mark said. “Might be fun.”
“But we can’t bow out partway through,” I replied. “Not in front of the women. Death before dishonour.”
“Death before dishonour!” he called back, raising a Diet Coke in a toast.
We arrived at the gym, got changed into our gym clothes and found what little free space was left in the aerobics studio. Aside from one scrawny little guy in floral shorts at the front of the gym, we were the only men there (“and with those shorts, he doesn’t count,” I whsipered to Mark).
The instructor, a very athletic blonde woman with short wavy hair, said “ah, we have some new guys here. And they’re quite close to the door.”
I hadn’t noticed that we were right by the exit.
“That’s okay,” she said. “The first time’s always the hardest, and if you need a break, don’t worry about taking one.”
I turned to Mark and quietly said “No backing out — death before dishonour!”
Mark replied “No wimping out in front of the women.”
The workout was incredibly intense and the choreography was unfamiliar. We did our best to follow the others, who seemed to know the sequence of steps. The combinations really threw us off.
“Punch!” yelled the instructor. “Jab-jab-jab-uppercut-kick!”
Was that kick right or left? I opted for left and got some girl’s foot planted in my ribcage. I guess I was supposed to kick right.
“Sorry,” she said, and I smiled and said it was all right. After all, my last girlfriend was into this kind of stuff.
When I finally decided to look at the clock, forty minutes had passed without my even noticing it. Before we knew it, it was over, and we’d made it all the way through, and without wimping out. The instructor congratulated us, as did Danielle, Michelle and Amber.
“What are you doing?” I asked Michelle, who was getting a barbell.
“I’m going to do the next class,” she said, which was Body Pump, a kind of sadistic torture exercise that combines a “step” workout with weightlifting. Michelle must be bionic.
Mark and I walked out of the class and drank two Gatorade bottles of water each.
“Death before dishonour!” we yelled and high-fived each other. We’d have to get our co-worker Bryan to join us next time.
A couple of days later, I told my Mom about the class at my weekly dinner with the folks. Mom’s a cardiologist, and it makes her happy to see her number one son doing cardiovascular exercises.
“You know,” she said, “that sounds a lot like Tae Bo.”
I’d just participated in an act whose participants I mocked regularly. I once made fun of someone who did Tae Bo by saying “Ooooh. Tae Bo. The martial art that’s only useful in the parallel reality where aerobics can kill!”
NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! I felt like a redneck who’s just discovered that the delicious ham-and-egg pie he just ate was actually quiche.
Damn you, Billy Blanks.