Planet Fitness get an intergalactic visitor

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Building on the strength of my enjoyment of the Olympics, as outlined on my last column, I decided to take it one step further and actually get back into shape. We do belong to a family gym and every time I drive by it I get a wistful feeling, like, hmm, it would probably be good to get in there and pump some iron, or lay down some rad crunches. (I have watched a lot of Olympic snowboarding, and it’s affecting my speech.) But then before I know it, I have “ragdolled” (another Olympic term), driving right by.

From the Planet Fitness Facebook page
From the Planet Fitness Facebook page

So, to get a completely fresh start, I chose to join a new gym; a gym just for me. I settled on a new Planet Fitness that just came to town — apparently their stationary advertising on the side of a van has worked on me when I pass it every day on my way to Dunkin’ Donuts.

The first thing I liked about Planet Fitness was a slogan printed on the front door handles — and I believe this phrase was first coined by either Dostoyevsky or John Paul Sartre — that reads, “No Lunkheads.” Me likey! I will not be working out next to men whose necks have completely disappeared between two bulbous shoulders, or women who show up in Miley Cyrus-approved gym wear and full-combat make-up. We are going to keep it real at the Planet.

Unbeknownst to me, Planet Fitness offers something called a 30-minute express workout. This is a circular staging area in the back of the gym with a large traffic-style red light and green light hanging on the wall, with many different exercise machines in a circle. The purpose is to work out on your machine while the light is green, and then when the light turns red, quickly wipe off your machine and proceed to the next, ready to shred it when the light turns green again.

Being new, I did not know this. I was too busy filling my water bottle at the water fountain, tying the tie on my Minnie Mouse sweats, and experiencing a sort of gym intensity — let’s face it, working out makes you feel powerful, yet chill. And that changes your walk, somehow. My walk said, “I am here and no one knows what disasters lay under this huge Red Sox tee shirt, so let’s super-focus, yo!” And my walk took me right into the 30-minute express workout.

My first move was to settle on a machine and look up, noticing the big red and green lights on the wall. I like it, I thought. Red for the past — STOP your old lazy ways, and green for the future — let’s GO towards a new body!

As I was sitting cross-legged on my machine and trying to get the top off my water bottle, the light turned green and I appreciated the encouragement of a green light, so I began doing crunches, and immediately felt exhausted. (The first day of gym membership should be just to kind of tour the place and think about working out, really.) I stopped and put my head down, relaxing my neck. When I looked up, there was a pile-up at my machine — good folks holding cleaning supplies and sweating, waiting to clamber on to the next machine. No one could move forward because I hadn’t moved forward.

From the Planet Fitness Facebook page
From the Planet Fitness Facebook page

Apparently not using the circular express 30-minute workout correctly is like upsetting the rocks at Stonehenge, as I was met with icy (yet sweaty) stares and the feeling that I should be moving on.

So, I did. I decided to move towards the straight rows of individual circuit training machines, all facing a wall of large-screen televisions. Now, nothing says “I haven’t worked out in years” like not knowing what weight to set your machine on. Starting at 140 lbs. of weight on your machine and moving the shiny pin down to 20 lbs. of weight after one repetition basically says, I am a wild card. I have no clue how weak or strong I am.

Other tip-offs are singing too loudly along with your ipod version of Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” while on the elliptical, falling off the weight bench (recovery is critical here – you can make it into a sort of cool yoga move – just mutter, “wow, Rolling Log pose is a major hamstring workout”) and punching buttons wildly on your treadmill keypad, desperate to find the volume so you don’t miss a second of “Iyanla, Fix My Life” playing right above you.

Let me just say that I am in it to win it. I am going to the gym every day, making it a priority, no matter what — except for yesterday when I had too much to do. Wish me luck!