I’ve told this story a couple dozen times and for the folks who’ve heard it more than once, they claim they never seem to get tired of it. I guess that means it’s worthy of entry into my Gym Tales (My Musclehead Memories).
I call this one, “You Got Me?” “Yeah, I Got’choo…”
Aussie Fitness; Pickerington, Ohio; Circa 2013
I don’t know what I was thinking. Well, I DO know what I was thinking. I suppose the better phrase would be – I don’t know what made me do what I did. You see, all I had to do was go to the workout session, mind my own business and most important, keep my fat (pun intended) mouth shut.
It was my first day of a 6-week Boot Camp, a high-intensity fitness course put on at my gym, designed to help condition you, burning calories hard and fast.
Nothing wrong with that.
It was precisely what I needed. I had been gaining weight for some time and funnily convinced myself that if I made occasional trips to the gym for casual muscle-building, I was just fine.
Plenty wrong with that, but that’s for another story.
As the new students gathered early for the introduction by the trainers and session launch, I noticed a young woman standing off by herself, gently nibbling at her fingernails and rocking from side to side. Being the “I have to save the world” guy that I was (and still am), naturally I walked over to her.
“Are you alright?” I asked sincerely, stretching infrequently.
“No,” she answered in noticeable despondence.
“What’s wrong?” I replied, cocking my head, showing concern. The key here was to appear as if I truly cared, which I honestly did, without looking like I was coming on to her. In another life, many years ago, the latter would have been the case. But not now. I had reached my “OFUM” years.
(Old, Fat, Ugly & Married)
“I’ve never done this before,” she admitted, voice trembling.
“Girl, it’s no problem,” I comforted. It’s not the army. “There’s no pressure and you can quit any time. But I won’t let you quit because I got’choo (got you).”
She looked at me innocently, gazing up and down. I assume, sizing me up and gauging my misplaced confidence by my large frame.
“YOU’VE done this before?” she asked doubtingly, nonchalantly questioning my ability to be of assistance. And rightfully so because I didn’t look anything like Will Smith when he played Muhammed Ali. In fact, I looked more like “Will NOT”. Still, I wasn’t offended by her obvious uncertainty. Let’s face it – you can’t invite someone to church while carrying a liquor bottle in a brown paper bag. The proof really IS in the pudding and presentation is everything.
“Look,” I stated. “Don’t judge me by my size. I used to be in excellent shape. If you’ve ever seen those black college bands that dance at halftime with the 360-degree splits, that was me, albeit a lifetime ago. I’m here just like you – trying to get it all back.”
It was about 5 minutes to start time and by this point, I noticed a few others eavesdropping on our conversation.
“Look at it this way,” I offered. “If you feel yourself getting tired or doubting your ability to continue, just look to me. If I’m still going, let that be incentive for YOU to keep going, because I got’choo.”
It made sense to me, coming out of my mouth. And judging by the various shrugs and nods from various onlookers (I need to learn to talk at a lower volume) it made sense to them as well.
She smiled in comfort and agreement. “We’re in this together…”
“I GOT’choo,” I said again, greeting her ‘High Five’ palm with my own.
She smiled again, larger, in satisfaction with a subtle hint of enhanced confidence.
As we continued stretching, we repeatedly looked at each other with assurance. Still, I couldn’t help but notice the man on the opposite side of her who gave me the side-eye, silently warning, “I hope you can back up all that nonsense you just spouted”. I returned his glance with an equally unspoken, “Mind yo’ business, cretin. We got this.”
“GOOD MORNING, EVERYONE!” one of the six training team members welcomed loudly as the others stood with legs spread and fists on hips. I almost laughed because if not for the similarly colored outfits, I would have sworn we were about to be trained by The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.
For sake of time and blog space, let’s Fast Forward to the session.
The class was set up in one large oval formation, with a wall of equipment making up part of the shape. We were a group of over twenty participants, each one stationed in front of a different device or piece of equipment.
We were told that we would spend 120 seconds (if memory serves) on each exercise with a 60-second break to catch our breath, get our wits about ourselves and move clockwise, on to the next task. I may not have the times correct, it’s been so long ago. But you get the drift.
Having promised to lead by both example and resolve, I whispered for my new partner and I to switch places. This way I would tackle each new exercise first (not including her initial exercise), demonstrating my success and completion, no matter how bad it looked in execution.
Exercise #1: The Battle Rope (my ‘chore’ while she rotated from side to side, holding an exercise stability ball).
With a thick, heavy cord of rope in each hand, I whipped each one up and down for the full duration of the exercise, glancing over at her occasionally to inspire.
“You got me?” she asked happily.
“I got’choo!” I answered, huffing and puffing softly so as not to be heard.
“BREAK!” a trainer yelled, looking at her stopwatch. Thank you, Jesus.
We high-fived each other again as we shared our “we got this” face.
Exercise #2: Crunches (Note: It’s not easy to do crunches when you have your own portable medicine ball for a stomach.)
“You got me?”
“I got’choo!” I answered, sucking in wind quietly. It had been too long since I had done any decent form of exercise and I was truly feeling it in no time.
BREAK – High Five
Exercise #3: Kettle Bell Raises (Note: It didn’t matter how light it was in weight, my arms were done after the Battle Rope and felt like wet spaghetti.)
“You GOT me?”
“I got’choo!” I spit (literally) out in response.
BREAK – High Five
Exercise #4: Jumping Jacks (Note: I need a sports bra.)
“You got me?”
I tried to yell, “I got’choo”, but it came out as a low-pitched, “UhGuhCHUH”
BREAK – LOW Five (my arms were done). After slapping hands, we both wiped our hands on our respective clothing, realizing that this was an exchange of bodily fluids that need not continue. Neither needed to say it. No more High Fives.
Drenched in perspiration and visibly struggling to breathe, I half-tripped while walking to my next station. No longer interested in inspiring her or anyone else, my only thoughts were on how I would look if I snuck off to the EXIT just as the new exercise commenced.
I tried to place my hands on my hips like our Power-Ranging hosts, but I lacked the arm strength to hoist them high enough.
Exercise #4: The Upper Extremity Ladder (ok, let’s call this one “Death Crawl”) An Agility or Military rope ladder is laid in front of you from left to right, end to end. Your job is to get down on your hands and feet, perpendicular to it at the left (or right) end in the Push Up position. You place your left hand on the floor in the space between the first and second rungs, right hand between the second and third. From there, you walk your hands through the rungs; right hand – then left hand; right, then left until you reach the end. Then, you move in the opposite direction, returning to your starting point, only using your hands and toes to move you along.
It was difficult enough, getting down into position. The moment I dropped down to my knees and divided my weight between my lower back, thighs and my arms, my elbows folded.
I collapsed to the ground as my trainers paused the start of the session.
Muffled snickers could be heard throughout the group as I summoned the strength to get back into the required position. With my gaze fixed on the rungs beneath me, the only thing I saw was the sweat beads as they rolled off of my face, onto the floor.
I’m not looking at this heffa (heipher). I’m not looking at this heffa. Don’t you look at me, either…
“BEGIN!” the trainer yelled.
30 seconds into the exercise, I had managed to move over a grand total of ONE RUNG.
“You got me?” she asked.
No answer. Labored breathing.
“You GOT me?”
No answer. Heavier panting.
“HEY FRIEND! You still got me?!?”
She had no idea what was going on in my own private little section of hell…
I tried my hardest to cough the words, “I got’choo” through my closed, dried out throat after struggling to inhale through the snot bubbles in my nostrils. Drenched in sugary perspiration and gasping like a Saint Bernard with whooping cough, all that came out was…
“HELL NO, WOMAN! LEAVE ME ALONE!!!”
Two days later, the trainers gasped in amazement as I walked through the gym doors, returning for the second boot camp session. They told me they always bet on which class members would and wouldn’t return. You know which box my ballot was dropped in.
They added that they had never had a funnier class and, as I expected, they told everybody they knew. They were also impressed with how I inspired everyone to continue – after the extended break we all took because of the collective laughter; my so-called protégé included. In turn, I thanked them for allowing me to lay there motionless for the subsequent three exercises as everyone worked around me. They brought in a second ladder for the others, seeing as how I as too tired to raise up and too heavy to slide it out from under.
Right around this time, my friend showed up, smiling, bubbly, energized and visibly confident.
“Hey you!” she said excitedly as she hugged me with the familiarity of a long lost loved one.
She too thanked me for a fun time and for giving her the will and determination to press on until the session ended.
Less than half of the class returned, as the trainers statistically expected. But my partner and I survived and continued our side-by-side “You got me?” routine…
…for as long as I could hold out.
I wish I could say that I completed the 6 weeks, but I didn’t. The strain became too much for my bad knee, which you all know I eventually had surgically replaced.
I did show up to tell them that I had been to my Orthopedic Specialist and I couldn’t continue, per his instructions. I’m sure they believed me because NO one shows up at 6 a.m. to tell people they won’t be returning. So as far as I know, I didn’t lose any dignity.
I did, however, lose 18 pounds in a matter of a weeks though.
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