On the 4th of January 2010 I broke a promise to all.
Should you delve into the archives of my earlier posts, http://davidw20.blogspot.com/, you may find where I wrote the words that should I ever start smoking again, I would NEVER quit again. Well, I have. Sorry.
Anyway, thanks to Nicorette Micro-Tabs, a bit of will power and the almighty desire never to have to purchase another packet of cigarettes again, I have lasted just over 2 months.
I have also started going to the local Virgin Active Gym....
This has been the equivalent of substituting one bad habit that can kill you for one that that will keep you alive just so it can inflict an even worse punishment than death. Every morning I sacrifice myself to the Gods of Pain just so that I could regain some of the reported 7 minutes of life I have lost for every cigarette I have ever placed to my lips.
I have replaced smoking with the smell of 37 years of unwashed sweat, the tastes of unwanted salts that have been excreted from my pores, the sounds of the groans of the dying, wounded leper within me as I have my limbs torn from my sockets, the sights of bulging muscles belonging to all but myself and the touch of cold metal as it invariably clangs to the ground in protest to my inept attempt to lift it from its resting place. I repeat this process on a daily basis with my thoughts being converted from "I can do this..." to " Kill me, and please do it now...".
I think the gym is probably one of the most hostile environments put on this earth and I don't believe that anyone has ever left one without being mentally scarred for life. Following is my experience over the last 6 weeks.
Day 1: I arrived with all the trepidation in the world. I was (am) a skinny 70Kg runt that couldn't run around the block without regurgitating my lungs and spleen half way through. Here I was walking into a world belonging to those of the species that could only be labeled "Out of my League". The women probably had bigger testicles than myself while the men probably had smaller ones due to the steroids they had had with their Coco-Pops earlier that morning. This sub-strata of humans could run till they reached earth's end, they could lift mountains, they could push planets and pull universes. All the while, their chiseled looks could chop out a a cheap Durban curio faster than a Zimbabwean can escape from a Home Affairs official.
I was met by a young lady who had the words "Personal Trainer" etched into every muscle on her body. She was going to get me started...
With the deftest of movements she separated the chaff from the wheat. I found myself in the cardiovascular section. I was surrounded by the heaving and wheezing of the fat, the scrawny, the invalid, the obscure, the first-timers. This was obviously where I belonged.
I ran for 5 minutes, I rowed for 5 minutes, I cycled for 5 minutes and I did push-ups and sit-ups for 5 minutes. I spent the equivalent time with my head between my knees dry heaving and wishing that my 20 years of smoking would suddenly reward me with a quick and painless death. Surely, this is not what I signed up for?
I was ready to pack it in and throw away a year’s subscription when suddenly I looked across to the "Adonis Section". This is where only those with the perfect physique gather. In this section, their bodies do not void huge globules of sweat. There is no huffing and puffing. There are no screams from the injured and mortally wounded. There are no pungent smells. These are the chosen ones. These are the inter-breeding brethren of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bo Derek. These are the "weight lifters".
They stand in their cordoned off area daring the weak to enter. They occasionally pick up littered weights and move them around their arena. The men stare at us and flex their chest muscles so as to ensure that we are in no doubt as to who rules this world. The women flex their chest muscles and send the vast majority of the male weaklings into cardio-arrest. They listen to a mix of music composed by Beethoven and Stock Aitken Waterman. We are subjected to the the piped vomit of bands such as Dying Fetus, Napalm Death and Boy George.
I have entered this arena twice. Once with my personal trainer...I left, after 3 minutes, with the contents of my stomach stuck firmly in the back of my throat. The second time was to use that machine that rips your calf muscles from your legs, slaps you in the face and then snaps your spine in 4 places... the standing calf machine. The machine in the losers section was out-of-order. Probably due to the burst thyroid that was found underneath it. I was determined to enter their territory to use their machine. It took all my courage to enter and all my will power not to look at anyone. I was on the machine long enough to snap my Achilles tendons, which happened faster than David Beckham can find a spare bed in a Finnish hospital. I crawled out, once again ensuring that I did not look at anyone. I returned to the mutts corner. I had conquered mans greatest fear.
That was two weeks ago. As yet, I haven't summoned up the courage to go back into their imperishable Ararat. They keep staring. One day, I'll go back there...maybe.