“Sound mind, sound body.”–Some old Roman guy (who was probably very fit)
It’s ten minutes till 5:00 pm on Thursday. I eat a few pretzels, change from my jeans and polo shirt to shorts and my favorite t-shirt—the loose, maroon one that says “SMILE WORKS ORTHODONTIST” on it. Wearing this shirt makes me happy, and being happy gives me more energy, a necessary characteristic for the task I am about to undertake. I grab the room key, along with my strikingly coordinated set of a red water bottle and a red sweat towel, and start off for the gym at a reasonably quick walking pace. Then I start to jog. The gym is ironically located on the far side of campus. Work out before your workout—was that what the surveyors thought when they drew the blueprint? I slow it down. I’m doing HIT tonight. What is HIT? It is the workout plan that all other workouts wish they could become. It is cardio and strength training rolled into one. It is hyper-intensive training—HIT. It is hard. But it’s done as a tight group of 35; adding a quasi-comforting thought that when your muscles are sore and you’re out of breath and ready to just collapse and die, the person next to you is most likely thinking the same thing. You have solidarity. But we try to keep our “I’M GONNA DIE” mentality at bay. Our momma helps with this. “Momma” is the nickname of our trainer, who is, as to be expected, very fit. Very, very very fit. She calls her class “the fit family”, hence, “Momma”….
“What is sweat?” she asks in her no-nonsense, but not harsh voice.
“Fat crying” we all exhale together
“What is pain?”
“Weakness leaving your body” Our mottoes become a rhythmic chant, mercifully distracting me from the fact that my arms are about to fall off, that I still have repetitions to complete.
“Pays off” This is our favorite. At least, it must be well-liked, since we say this last one more than once.
We work with dumbbell weights a lot. These multi-colored little instruments of torture may look cute but do not be fooled. “Reps of twenty”—arms extended, lift-down, lift-down, lift-down—but not all the way down, so you’re always “extended”. Really, you’re just bouncing your arms up and down with weights. Try it sometime. It hurts. “Switch stations!” In the first round of circuit training, we put our weights down carefully, giving a softened “thud” sound to this air-conditioned, glass-walled room with a shiny hardwood floor that may very possibly be bamboo. But at each “switch stations” command, the soft “thuds” become harder, louder “ker-thunks”. Because we’re tired and don’t care about the shiny bamboo floor anymore, all anyone can think of is “I want to get rid of this weight.”
One more round. This time, each station will be shorter. “Shorter stations mean you work harder! Everything you’ve got! Last set?” “Best set!” Arrrrgggghhhhh. Yes, Momma. With any remaining fibers of energy that I might possess somewhere within my mental recesses, I will do faster pushups, deeper squats, tighter ab drills, more arm-lifties, etc., for twenty-five excruciatingly long seconds. Moments like these make me wonder why I do this voluntarily.
6:30 PM. It’s over. Thank goodness. Hallelujah. “Don’t forget to stretch. Next week we’ll do (something)… Good work, everyone.”
I leave dazed. Normally I come brain-dead from homework and studying and long lectures, now I’m physically dead, but somewhat mentally revived. Revived enough to feel good. Revived enough to be ravenous. Revived enough to know that I will be back again for more next week.