“No Diggity” by Blackstreet streamed out of my ear buds, and for two beats I almost felt like my former self. I was back on an elliptical for the first time in over a year. Just like riding a bike (or so they say — I haven’t actually ridden on one in probably 15 years), my hands, legs, and feet all knew instinctively what to do. I purposely set the resistance to four rather than my normal eight. I wasn’t about to take any chances, especially since only a few weeks prior I threw out my back from sleeping in a weird position. One year now into the pandemic and my body is basically saying, “Excuse me, but WTF do you think you’re doing?“
With the second shot now three weeks in my system, I thought I’d dip my toe a little further into the outside world and see what it feels like. One stays away from something long enough, and the worry is that you might no longer recognize or even feel familiar with it. After an entire year of only walking in our condo development for exercise, and now with a vaccine ostensibly protecting me from getting sick by covid, I decided to dip back into the gym for a spell.
It’s a wonderful thing, the toe dip. If the water’s too cold one can just decide retreat and not go any further.
Our gym moved to a brand new building late last year. Starting in 2018, they began displaying mockups at the old facility of the proposed layout of the new one, with a tentative move-in date of early 2020. The old location was closed during the six week shutdown last year, and though I heard they eventually did open the new facility in late fall, I wasn’t ready to go back. Call me crazy, but it seemed a little too risky to be in close proximity to people breathing heavy prior to getting the shot.
At least the extroverted heavyset neighbor I’d interact with during walks in our development was six feet away and out in the open air, as he regaled me on a break from his own workout with yet another intriguing account of his adventures at the local Publix. Dangers lurked everywhere for a time.
But with both of us now inoculated (I’m speaking of Gorgeous here, not the heavyset man), we thought we’d give going back to the gym a test drive. Masks are encouraged when walking around the exercise areas, but not while actually working out. Machines are spaced out six feet apart from one another, and if that’s not possible they simply put a sign on one to inform that it’s not available (note the elliptical on the end in the above picture). I actually tried to keep my mask on after starting my workout. That lasted maybe a minute and a half.
Signs are up everywhere reminding users to wipe down exercise machines both before and after use. At each wiping station they even offer a pump of sanitizer to disinfect one’s hands, which is important because one does need to also handle the spray bottle of disinfectant that is used to moisten paper towels, which in turn is used to wipe down the machine.
Did you follow all of that? There’s an oder to the madness. It’s a design very similar to the one my mother instituted for my siblings and me, when would each arrive home from school during cold winter months. There was hell to pay If you touched the wrong thing out of order. So I know from experience how to do this properly.
The new gym is spacious. Our old gym was cramped and had toilets that were always breaking down. There’s now lots of room to spread out and find a machine. The old facility was so cramped that it was hard not to get to know your neighbor a little bit more intimately than either one of you probably wanted. Even with the covid spacing and distancing in this new place, I can see where it’ll stay roomy as restrictions are eventually lifted.
Not so comfortable, at least initially, was my body. Its reaction in returning to using an aerodynamically-designed machine for muscles, joints, and spines was to say the least challenging. After a year of aerobically walking on hard pavement, I found it awkward to get back on a device intended to actually aid in the maintenance of healthy backs, spines, knees, and hips. I jealously read about those people last year who bought new home gym equipment. But I was determined to somehow muddle through with my walking outside, followed by stretching on a mat in our living room. This worked for all of 2020, though by January of this year my body began to rebel against my personal version of home training. It wanted a return to the old ways. Haven’t all of us?
Tragically, what has suffered the most in the last year is the degradation of my core stretching routine. We had cooler than normal temperatures this past winter here in northern Florida, and quite often I bailed out from exercising rather than — forgive me for this, all you northern state readers — having to go out in morning temperatures of 40’s and 50’s. Brrr! So I’m now in the position of having to rebuild all those core muscles again.
I did make one neato cool new purchase over the last, though: I bought a pair of snazzy wireless headphones. For once I will no longer get a cord stuck on an elliptical arm when getting off the machine. Sadly, this means that I’ve tragically stopped using my old classic iPod in favor of listening to songs on my phone. I loved that iPod, but unfortunately I can’t defend having two devices on my waist any longer. But hey, it was a look.
Gorgeous seamlessly got on her treadmill without fanfare and worked out as if there had been no break in service. She asked me to pull into a new coffee place that we’ll now pass on the way home each time. I’m seeing a new budget buster which wasn’t on our stay-at-home radar for all of last year. The challenges never end do they?
Until next time…