Ever since I hurt my shoulder and went to a physical therapist who seemed endlessly disappointed I hadn’t injured it in some kind of violent athletic pursuit (“Racquetball?” “No.” “Tennis?” “Uh-uh.” “Are you sure?” “Yeah.”), I’ve made a load of lemonade out of them there lemons.
My shoulder is still a little painful. Therefore, out of respect for it, I no longer lift weights. Free, at last! Hallelujah!
I walk past the weights every time I go to the gym to take a yoga class and feel a little guilty since, after all, I’m still paying some kind of monthly amount so I could, theoretically, use the draconian-looking machines that are straight out of the Spanish Inquisition. But I think of my shoulder and keep on walking.
Besides, I have another excuse. Every time I’m at the gym, I begin to get a little uneasy. What’s going on with all these personal trainers? I see them leading packs of young girls, showing them how to lunge their way through the gym. I watch them standing over sweating people whose eyes are bulging out from effort. “Keep going! I want 10 more reps!” they say. I see them forcing people onto big rubber balls and sliding over the wood floors. “Keep doing that for five minutes! Keep your neck straight!”
This is healthy? These people are paying to be treated like that, bossed around by a gym dominatrix? And what about the personal trainers themselves? What are they thinking about? Do they like the people they’re training? Or, as I secretly wonder sometimes, do they despise them?
“You’re not going fast enough! Pick up the pace!” That’s what the little blond-haired martinet always said at the exercise class I used to suffer through in Dallas. “We’re going to do that routine again. You’re too slow!”
All the women in the class — who were serious, God knows, about keeping fit since this was Dallas, after all — would groan and grumble and fall back into line and keep moving while the little blond ordered them around. She always flashed a cold smile and told us we were lazy and slow and would get fat and old, if we didn’t watch it.
That cold smile! I knew I’d seen it before in history books. Sure, everybody said Eva Braun departed this earth at the end of World War II, but you never know. Either she or her clone taught an aerobics class in Dallas and it’s made me eternally suspicious of overly enthusiastic and possibly sadistic personal trainers. My shoulder and I have avoided them ever since.
(Copyright 2008 by Ruth Pennebaker)