Reaching For The Sky - Part III


2016 04 22

This week i prepared for gym by finding an exercise routine on Pinterest. Since starting at the gym, i have only been doing about 3 exercises with the dumbbells, and i thought that would be the first place to expand my exercise repertoire.

Well, the routine i chose works like this: 5 different dumbbell exercises are alternated with one minute intervals of jumping rope. Fortunately, we own a jumping rope, which was summoned – together with a body that hasn’t jumped over anything in at least a decade – to the gym at 12:00 on Thursday.

At first, i couldn’t jump even once, but after only a few attempts, i got into the rhythm, and were off for 60 seconds. Well, more like 43, then another 5 and eventually the last 12. When that timer buzzed, i was ready to go home and recline gracefully for several midday hours. But there were still 19 minutes left to this workout, and That-Man was cheering me on from the front of the gym, where he was pedalling on the stationary bike as if merrily completing the Col de Peyresourde in the Tour de France.

His enthusiastic encouragement urged me on, towards one minute of the “low to high wood chop.” Why it is called by that name, i didn’t quite grasp until right now. It actually does resemble the movements one would make when chopping wood, only you start at the bottom instead of the top. Another minute bit the dust, and i was kind of feeling the endorphins kicking in. This was going to be just like my first gym session (at the end of which i was motivated above and beyond all human reason, as you may remember)! This is going to turn out with me wanting to return for another session this afternoon! i could just see the glee in That-Man’s eyes when i told him i was hooked for life. Oh, he was going to be so proud of me.

So i returned to the jumping rope and told myself i was doing magnificently, only tripping for the first time after 57 seconds. The next round would surely see me completing a minute without any slips or mishaps.

Next up was 60 joyful seconds of hard work: the overhead dumbbell side bend. Even though the movements were difficult for an inflexible body, and the dumbbell – which had to be held above my head the whole time – seemed to grow as heavy as a Volkswagen Beetle as the seconds ticked by, i told myself that the rewards would soon be visible, and therefore i would rejoice in this temporary state of excruciating physical exertion.

Back to the third minute of jumping rope. Things were getting serious now. It soon became clear that 60 seconds of uninterrupted jumping was not going to happen easily. It seemed as if the rope was purposely tying itself around my toes. It is something to be thankful for that i did not fall flat on my face with my teeth pegged into the exercise mats. That would have been something to blog about, though, wouldn’t it?

Before the next set of exercises – the kick crunch, for those who are interested – i thought it wise to take a few deep breaths and pat myself down with the towel. The kick crunches might have been the easiest of all the exercises, but by now my heart was racing and my breath was short, and i'm sure the effect of it all on my body was exactly what the torture masters who had designed this exercise, had in mind.

Many deep breaths and lots of padding down with the towel followed before the next bout of rope jumping, and the only thing that kept me going was That-Man’s grin and cheer in the big mirror. Even though it was nice to realise that i was actually able to jump rope after so many years, i was starting to long for the end of the session.

The row with twist was next on the menu, and to be honest, i am still not sure whether my squats during this exercise were correct. But 60 seconds passed, and i was well on my way to finishing the session.

Copious amounts of water, thorough wipes of the towel and enough heavy breathing to sound suspicious (if the music wasn’t so loud) prepared me for the last minute with the rope. Focus on the rope. Become one with the rope. Wax on. Wax off. To be honest, i don’t remember much of the last minute of rope jumping.

The fifth exercise – overhead circle – also passed me by in a haze of sweat and breathing. By the time i was finished, i was finished. Everyone who has started going to the gym after years of absence knows the feeling. i was truly finished. i sat on the bench for a long time, wiping the sweat from my head, drinking sips of water and racing through breaths as fast as my lungs would allow.

When i felt i could stand on my feet without embarrassing myself, i casually sauntered my way up to the front, where That-Man was all focus on finishing the Col de Peyresourde. i sat down on a bench behind him. Graceful would be how i described myself at that moment in time. When That-Man left the bike with trembling legs, i ascended to the saddle and commenced my own 15 minute ride along imaginary fields of tulips in the countryside of Holland. The whole spectrum of the rainbow was spread out around me for my sole enjoyment on this journey. i could feel the wind in my hair, i could feel the hint of a breeze, i could feel . . .

i could feel i was going to lose my tea and rusks if i didn’t get off this bike immediately!

The dismount was much less graceful or ladylike than i had felt only two minutes before. i sat down on the nearest bench and breathed. Close by was a piece of weight training equipment better suited to keeping an unsteady body upright, so i moved there as soon as i felt able to walk. After a few minutes on that extremely supportive chair, i suddenly felt a faintness come over me, and rushed to a nearby bench and lay down there. Some minutes later That-Man came by and enquired about my wellbeing. i told him i could wait until he was finished with his circuit, and did so stoically until we left the building and returned home, where i summarily fell down on the bed, rested while That-Wonderful-Man prepared lunch, ate and fell into an athlete’s sound sleep.

Yes, it may be a stretch to call myself an athlete, but you will note that i only referred to the soundness of my sleep compared to that of an athlete’s, and not my ability to withstand harsh exercise for extended periods of time. Not yet, but hopefully, someday soon.

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