Mind Over Muscle

The dream lasted forever.  It began with someone unlike me – but seemingly  me – wanting to go surfing.  Whoever it was, grabbed the short board headed up the hilly, tree-lined, street on the sunny morning then realized the beach was too far away so returned home to pick up the car.  From an aerial view, I could see my car, suspiciously like the car from last episode I watched of “Wheelers Dealers”,  caught in the middle of a formula one  race.  The track went right but my car veered to the left with other vehicles exiting the race.


I always have such great expectations the day before a vacation day.  I dream I’ll repaint the bathroom, visit my relatives, spend the day at the mall,  all while remaining in bed watching old movies.  It never turns out the way I plan.  I usually  finish  a load of laundry and grocery shop, if I’m lucky.  Today’s day off started with a good look in the mirror.   I looked at myself sideways, groaned, and grudgingly concluded, as much as I did not want to, that a trip to my local gym was overdue.  It’s not that I hate to work out.  Once I get going, I find a groove and actually enjoy it.  It is just the psyching up to actually go that is the problem.  So much energy goes into the getting ready between the cramming body parts into “breathable” , form-fitting “new technology” wear,  hair management, and color coordination to fluorescent shoes.  Another glance in the mirror and the gym rat was born.

My club is small, local, and best of all inexpensive.   With owners who served as Marines, the place is clean, the machines work, the neighborhood crowd includes all ages depending on the time of day, and once in a while you overhear local gossip.  Since it was the middle of the day, most of the crowd was either retired or under employed.  The younger members plugged into their phones and worked their way around the cardio machines or free weights.  The retirees sat on machines watching the TV’s slowly going through their reps.  Oddly, a thirty-something year old on a stair climber was speaking into her ear bud microphone, her voice gradually getting loader and faster as her workout intensified.  A type A, I surmised, desperately in need of some kind of weird attention.   Toward the free weights, two men were comparing current girlfriends to past crazy ones, reassuring each other their futures were brighter.

My mind usually starts to focus on where my feet should be, how I am supposed to breath,  what muscle group should be moving and I tune out everything else going on in my head. Usually.  But  I could feel the back fat rippling on the lat pull, the cellulite jiggle on the bike, the non-existent core muscles strain on each sit-up.  Surrounded by mirrors at all angles, I started to regret the holiday cookies and my long work hours.  My head dropped back on the exercise mat as I stared up at the ceiling. I tried to take a deep breath but it came out more like a sigh.  I tried not to think about the upheaval at  work then remembered  my odd dream.  With the move to another office further away, my longer driving commute had turned into a race every morning.  I don’t why I didn’t give it all up.  My life of sitting at a desk in a stress filled office now expanded into sitting behind the wheel in stress filled rush hour to get to my stress filled job.  No wonder my body was morphing into ball of fat and my heart felt weak.  At least the annoying woman on the stair climber was trying to leverage work with a workout.  I contemplated how many bad decisions I would make if I was to bark orders over a stair climber.  Here was my day off, doing something good for my body yet my brain couldn’t shut off my daily grind. No matter what I did today, my mind would be stuck going too slow in a fast race that I needed to exit.

Opening my eyes and looking around the club, it seemed the anxiety of daily life could not be avoided but we were trying.  We can try to sleep it off, eat it away, or work it off.  It was  very therapeutic to know my neighbors were trying to work it off with me.  At some point I am determined to make it to the beach and maybe I will see everybody there riding a more enjoyable wave.

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