Pumping Irony
by Patricia Draznin

I am a fitness animal. I was first drawn to weightlifting when I read that people who workout could eat every three hours. Soon after, I was lured by TV ads starring buff humans with triceps all over their bodies. And all because they workout for just twelve minutes a day on the Big Bad Bicep Booster™—available for five easy payments of $29.99, including a free subscription to I Swear I Don’t Take Steroids magazine. But mostly I was dazzled by the Before and After women who transformed their bodies overnight:

“Six weeks ago I was 4’10, 160 pounds. Now I’m 5’6, 107 pounds. And blond.”

I was hooked. Now there was nothing between me and my fitness goals but a snappy exercise outfit. I headed straight to the store for people who workout or at least dress that way, and purchased power clothes for every season. With the remaining cash, the most serious fitness equipment I could afford was a set of barbells and some heavy vegetables, which I used with a vengeance for eight days. But working out in my kitchen was unsatisfying, not to mention messy, when the yams and tomatoes passed their prime. That’s when I went in search of the ultimate fitness environment. And I found it at the town gym—the weight room, the mirrors, the scent of muscles in-the-making. And those four bulky guys standing around the free-weights snorting protein powder, spotting their friend who’s bench-pressing a Chevy Suburban.

“DO IT!!” the bulky guys yell. “Gimme ten more reps. My kid can lift more than you did. And she’s in fifth grade.”

Across the room on the Leg Press, a massive hombre tries to straighten his knees against a John Deere Greenskeeper. He’s sweating, he’s breathing, he’s groaning so loud you’d think someone had switched the mower on. But nothing can stop him. Why? Because he’s a weight room guy. And guys in the weight room don’t consider anything too heavy to lift, even if their thighs split open and their quadriceps fall out. And when they die, they want to go to that big health club in the sky and lift heavier weights than all the other dead guys.

Since joining the gym, I’m on the fast track to stellar fitnocity, using my own personal approach, “I can be buff, but what’s the rush?” Grunting is out of the question, and sweating would take the poof out of my hair. But I’m down there twice a week guzzling Power Water and lifting, oh, four or five percent of my body weight, which sometimes requires both hands.

And what is the secret to my perseverance? Here come the four magic words: my trainer makes me. My trainer understands my “no pain, no strain” method. He just doesn’t buy it. He believes that lifting the same weight twice is redundant. So he’s always trying to beef up my weight load, when he thinks I’m too busy applying my hair gel to notice. That’s where our fitness goals differ. He’ll be happy when I can beat up all the other women at the gym. I’ll be happy when I can get through my workout without scuffing my Gucci sneakers. But we both agree that I should look like those Before and After women. And after two years of lifting heavy objects, I’ve mastered my Before image. So I’m halfway there.

Copyright 2003 Patricia Draznin


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