In the course of my duties as the assistant sports editor for this fine publication, I often find myself in the presence of very athletic, physically gifted young men and women. For a twiggy thirty-something with a bad back and thinning hair, these surroundings aren’t exactly conducive to a positive self-image. I look at the amazing things these fine-tuned student-athletes are able to do with their bodies, and I think to myself, “I could do that when I was their age.” It’s a damned lie, but it’s a lie that always makes me long for the days when my joints didn’t snap, crackle, and pop like a bowl of Kellogg’s Rice Krispies every morning when I got out of bed.
Recently, I decided to do something about it.
A few weeks ago, while I was perusing announcements on the Loras portal, I came across a post that read: “Time to Start Your Fitness Program.” I’m not sure why I clicked on the link. I hadn’t been contemplating suicide, or self-mutilation, or any other form of masochistic activity lately, but I clicked. And I read. To wit, students in the kinesiology program were looking for guinea pigs to design and implement workouts for, and would serve as personal trainers for the volunteers at no cost.
I don’t know why I responded, but I did.
I was instructed to fill out a packet of information and bring it to the Graber Center on a Monday morning to discuss it with my new trainer. Completing the informational forms was a formidable exercise in and of itself. Here are a few highlights:
Q: Why did you decide to sign up for this fitness class?
A: Because I’m an out-of-shape old man who lives a lifestyle only slightly less active than that of the average glacier.
Q: What are you hoping to accomplish through this program?
A: To undo the last dozen years, or so.
Q: Do you picture yourself as having a healthy diet?
A: Yes, but sometimes I also picture myself as Batman.
Q: Do you have any bad habits you’d like to break?
A: No thanks, I’m in a good place with my bad habits.
Q: What is your biggest fear for the next 12 weeks?
A: Vomiting on the gym floor. And grizzly bears, they terrify me.
I managed to get through the packet injury-free, and I was ready to meet my trainer.
The first day was just a meet-and-greet, where I was introduced to Sani, my new personal fitness trainer. As Sani looked over my questionnaire, he chuckled politely a few times, as if he knew his work was cut out for him. He had no idea. But Sani has the kind of attitude that sprays positivity all over the place, and I couldn’t help but to feel encouraged. Before our next meeting, which would consist of fitness tests to determine the exact degree of how pathetic my physical prowess is, I went out and bought two items I’d never before owned: a pair of running shoes, and a box of cereal without a cartoon character on it. With my feet properly adorned, and my stomach filled with something called “whole grains,” I headed to Graber to meet Sani.
The events which followed were a complete horror show.
I ran, unpursued, for 12 minutes. Who does that? At the end of this Bataan-caliber death march, I swore my chest would burst. As it turns out, two dozen Camels a day isn’t the greatest thing in the world for a guy’s wind. What in the hell had I gotten myself into?
Inexplicably, I didn’t give up. I came back for more abuse.
The next time, there were push-ups, and sit-ups, more running, and a medicine ball. I didn’t even know that was a real thing. I thought they only existed in sports movie training montages.
To make a long story short, I don’t feel any younger. My left calf feels like Ndamukong Suh just danced the Charleston on it, and my abs (who knew I had such a thing?) ache so badly that I’m continuously checking myself for stab-wounds.
Despite feeling like the victim of a prison riot today, I’m going back tomorrow, and I plan to finish out the full 12-week program. I haven’t yet figured out why. Netflix and Papa John’s never make me hurt this way.
I’ll let you know how it works out.