Sunday, January 29, 2012

Rough Spot - April 2010

So, thanks to my good friend Casey getting me started, I have had a gym membership now for several months. And I love a gym. I worked at the student gym at Auburn while I was in school, then worked out for another two to three hours every day. I have been a member of one somewhere on and off since then as funds permitted. The day I delivered Hannah Grace I had had a full workout that morning on my lunch break. And, it is not the classes that I love, however, I am going to try a couple of classes to mix things up, but I love the weights. I love the burst of power to push or pull the weights. Probably could be a nice physcho study about me as to why that is, but I like that power push. And, I like the free weights, the real deal stuff. I do the machines, number one, b/c of time efficiency. I try to keep my heart rate at a certain cardio level, so it is easier for me to get on and off the machines quicker to keep my heart rate up. Secondly, I do the machines because, usually there are several guys at the free weights. They are grunting and dropping things, so as a delicate female flower it is hard to sashay over to the other side of the gym where few females tread except to grab a couple of five-pound hand weights and prance back over to the yoga mats. But, the control of free weights engages your "core" (thanks to P90X, everyone likes to throw the "core" term around) so much more and I know that to progress and to do what I love, I need to put the powder puff away and start slinging some plates.
o, a couple of weeks ago, the other side was empty, and it was a strength day for me, so I took a deep breath and sashayed over to the other side. I tried to familiarize myself with how the bars and pins worked, that kind of thing. My arms and legs are shorter, right, so I have to adjust everything, and I didn't want to be fumbling with those things with "the guys" around and looking like a... well, a female. So, I figured out most everything I needed at this point, and then needed to know how much weight I could push. Machines are different, the weight doesn't quite translate b/c it is easier on the machines, so I had to kind of experiment with the plates. So, that was a couple of weeks ago. Since then I have ventured over there every visit, each time getting braver and more confident in what I was choosing to do. I love the basic bench and basic squat.
Today, there is one guy there and there are two 45 plates on the bench press already. I know they are not his, but to be polite, I ask him if this is his or if he was about to use it. He says "No, go ahead. Oh, let me help you." Since I am a delicate flower, he helps me get the plates off and lower the pins. I finish my set and he says "If you need a spot for your next set, let me know." Then he gets on his cell phone. Well, this is a great relief b/c as with any muscle-building exercise, be it machine or free weight, you push to fatigue. Well, with a machine, if you are fatigued, you just drop it. But with free weights, you can't do that, you would get hurt, or in the least would not get to finish your set and therefore not progress. If you are not familiar with spotting (in terms of weightlifting ;), it is when a second person stands with you and assists you in finishing your rep when your muscle has become fatigued and cannot push the weight any more. Then he or she helps you safely return the weights to the resting position.
So, since I have an offer of a spot, I really want to see what I can do. When it comes time to do my last bench set, I slap a 35 plate on each end and ask him to help. Spotting for bench or squats can invade personal space a little. But, for the sake of progression, I burst my usual body bubble. I lay on the bench under the bar, and the spotter stands behind my head. When doing a bench press as a female, the bar comes down and lays right across your breasts (admittedly, the bar seemed a little lower than I remembered when I was at Auburn, nevertheless), so that makes it awkward for a male spotter to grab the bar if you fatigue in a lowered position. And, I know that seems like a natural comical climax for this drawn-out writing. It is not. So, he comes to spot, I lift the bar off the pins, balancing more than I’ve ever done and he says "yeah, so I took your picture and sent it to my sister. She works out a lot." .................. I'm sorry, what? ............. you took my picture lifting weights.... WHAT?! ... Did I become a public figure at some point... is a delicate female on a weight bench that much of an anomaly, that much of a freak show. Wow, it was weird.

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