No, no. I did not give up the dream. It was the knee, then the gall bladder surgery and still, it hurts on the downhills on the local trail. More work is obviously needed. To that end . . . here’s an update about recently starting strength training class at the gym. I’ve been biking and doing that crazy elliptical and added yoga too, but anyway . . . I wrote about the class this morning.
It’s nearing the end of the hour. I watch myself in the mirror. I stay with the others and the beat of the music as it vibrates up through the floor like a monster rising from the deep, entering through our feet, hits our hearts and goes out through our hot breath.
It’s heavy. The breath. And so is the bar. Heavier now with every bicep curl. Biceps struggle, shoulders try to help. I am fighting old age. I think that is why I do this. I hear “Agent Smith” in the final Matrix Movie as I write this. He says, ” . . . why, why, why do you persist?” And Neo says, “Because I choose to.” That must be my reason too. The mind just said so. That’s why I do this. It’s the same reason that I write this now. Because I choose to. Yet, old age is never far from my thoughts.
So it’s about choice or at least part of it is. Because I must see if I can. And because of the challenge. And because I chose to. The muscles struggle and cry out with the effort that is required to get on board with my choice. “Sixteen more lifts, fight for it” blasts the voice of the trainer. We’re all in this together. She and about 30 of us. I don’t know how anybody else is doing. The sweat makes my eyes blurry. There’s only enough concentration left in me to watch my own form in the mirror. There’s no thought of anybody or anything else now. It’s me, that barbell and the mirror and we’re locked in.
I’ve worked hard for the past few years swimming laps, spin bike interval workouts, and even a little yoga now and then. Years of that and only recently can I tolerate seeing my body’s image in the workout room’s mirror without cringing and looking away. I am looking now and reflected back to me I see my exhausted right arm having difficulty keeping the bar level.
The hour is nearly over. Whoever choreographed this weight lifting routine knew just how many reps it takes to run out of fuel. I just noticed that the word “chore” in choreography.) My tank is nearly empty and my muscles are crying and my heart is too in sympathy and I hold back, “I will not cry!”
Instead, I pull the bar up with everything that’s left, focused on the number sixteen. I have chosen this. I do not quit. The bar and weight plates are stronger than me now. My form starts to fall apart. I feel shaky everywhere and will not cry.
My form falls apart more. Lean forward, not back. Keep your shoulders out of it. I talk myself through it.
I try. The bar lowers too much on my right again. Hold on snoopy I say. “Ten, eleven, Twelve . . . ” Muscles cry. There’s no pain. Only a letting go that wants to happen. My heart cries again along with the muscles. I do not quit. Shake all you want but just keep lifting to the chin. Stop using momentum. Legs are shaking too now from way too many squats over the past hour.
Fighting to hold the form. Almost there. Dig in Joy! Let’s go to the end! You can do this. Finish strong, It matters! “Fourteen, Fifteen, Sixteen”, we all say it together now. “Bars down!”
That’s it. I want to do a rebel yell but hold it in. We stretch. Next class. The day after tomorrow.