Last Friday morning, I was walking around aimlessly in the gym – walking because all the treadmills were occupied, and aimlessly because all the free weights were being used. The place was absolutely jam-packed with people, all suddenly striving to look their best as Sydney enters the beach season.
After a couple of more laps around the zoo, forlornly hoping for an empty military press machine or even just a simple bench to do some weights on, I gave up and headed for the stretch area. On the way there, however, I walked past a throng of people waiting outside one of the aerobic exercise classrooms.
“What are you guys waiting for?“, I asked a girl who was bouncing up and down on the same spot, seemingly ready to burst out of her tight lycra outfit, such was her enthusiasm.
“The Body Pump class!“, she replied.
I thought to myself: Well shit, I can do that, and milled around with the crowd until we all filed into this massive room with mirrors everywhere.
I promptly followed the others’ lead and got all the paraphernalia ready to tackle this Body Pump business. My intention was to complete the whole class with 5kg on each side of my bar. That was until I saw the girl in front of me. She was about half my size but with what seemed like twice the weight on her bar.
I thought to myself: Well shit, I can do that, and started to pack more weights on my bar, making as much clanging noise as possible so that the girl in front is aware I was playing no second fiddle to anyone.
Unfortunately, as soon as the class began, I regretted the extra iron. It was only through sheer ego and pride that I managed to finish off the first stanza without collapsing in a heap.
But that pride and ego were immediately tested again when the instructor said: “Okay, great warm up everyone. Now we’re gonna work those thighs and glute. So, let’s go, put on some more weights if you wish!”
I did not wish, and certainly was not keen to put any undue strain on my glute, wherever the hell that is. But the damn girl in front of me put on another 5kg plate on each side of her bar and, if I’m not mistaken, made sure that I knew about it too, judging by the childish and unnecessary clanging noise she was making.
I thought to myself: Well shit, I can do that, but this time with much less conviction than before, while putting on another 5kg plate on each side of my bar as well.
This torture and pride-driven silliness went on for the entire duration of the 45-minute class, after which I was completely spent. Fried. Done. Finito.
My entire body cried out for mercy and was barely held upright by my wobbly legs. While the nemesis in front skipped out of the class fresh as a daisy, I literally hobbled to the change room. My limbs were in so much shock that I had trouble standing proper in the shower and had even more trouble just lifting my arms to wash myself.
For the next two days, I walked around like I was holding onto a dollar coin with my butt cheeks, such was the stiffness in my thighs. It got so bad that little old ladies with big Christmas shopping bags were pushing past me while I was shuffling around in the city.
As with most problems in my life, I decided to deal with the pain and the soreness the only way I know how … by going out for a long run.
While it felt like an insane idea at the time, particularly as I had difficulty even bending down just to tie my running shoelaces, it turned out to be the best method of recovery. Merely a minute into the run, I forgot about the pain and the pain forgot about my body. It was back to just putting one foot in front of another, pounding in unison with the music blaring out of my iPod.
I ran for 20km on that outing. 20km of unadulterated peace, not just for my body but also for my mind. A mind that was, up to then, bitching and moaning non-stop about the pain in the thighs and the strain in the glute. Even better, the next morning when I woke up, the stiffness in the body was mostly gone, replaced by the familiar fatigue that is typical after an extended running session.
So, now that I know the secret to recovery, I am ready to tackle another exercise class in the gym. Let’s see now, it says here on this timetable something called the Body Attack class.
Well shit, I can do that! … I mean, how hard could it be?!
Keep on pounding.