Operation get my life in order is in full effect. About a week ago, I joined a gym. It’s a really good gym for anyone in the market for one in Bandra, called 10 The Health Spa and what sold me on it was their steam room. I know the weather outside is practically a sauna, but this is CLEAN steam. Pore cleansing etc.
Now the problem with gymming is that at some point you actually have to exercise. Which means, oh, the unbearable pain of it all. Right now various parts of my body are screaming out in protest including the back of my knees (I did squats yesterday) and my shoulders and upper arms (bicep curls with weights). Not to mention each time I laugh, my stomach (ab crunches). If all this pays off though, as Dilip, my trainer, promises, in about a month I should be Lara Croft. With Madonna arms. Okay, his promise was more like, in about a month, it’ll stop hurting. Google tells me this hurt is called DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) which basically means my old muscles were torn and my body’s building new ones. Pretty cool, right?
But it’s become sort of my daily routine. I plug in some Ingrid Michaelson or The Sneaker Pimps into my ears and stroll along, some days with an umbrella, some days getting my own sneakers really wet. I take a different route every day (there are two) so I don’t get bored and I look around me, like really look, at things I’ve never noticed before. It’s a sort of meditation for me—my pre and post-gym walk—a time when I am alone with my thoughts and the music is pulsing in my ears and the entire world looks like a soundtrack.
It’s the same feeling I get on a treadmill, pushing the numbers higher and higher, watching my exercise face in the mirror, feeling the monotony of the track slide under my shoes. You never go anywhere on a treadmill, but it does tell you how fast your heart is beating and how many calories you’ve burned. Which is not even one of those little M&M’s I’ve been sneaking.
And afterwards, once Dilip has stopped looking so chirpy even as I gasp in pain, I go back to the locker room, collect my things and start the slow stroll home. By this time, I am STARVING. Beyond hungry. The last time I was hungry like this was when I was a child and used to play in the park near my house. Then I’d come home full of health and vigour and good old fashioned hunger and somewhere along the way, as a grown up, I stopped feeling that exercise hunger. The oh-my-god-my-body-actually-needs-food hunger. Now I just eat, coz meh, it’s lunchtime. Sometimes I stop at Candies or Cinnabon to get myself a snack, most days I go home, drink a glass of juice and have an early dinner. And then equally early bedtime. This gym thing is terrible for my social life, but it’s weird how it’s become part of my daily routine. Even today, even though I’m bunking (having just come back from MALAD, I am in no position to exercise) I’m already planning on making up for it on Sunday afternoon and quite looking forward to it too.
What all this has taught me—besides an intimate knowledge of muscles in my body that I didn’t even know existed—is that I like my quiet time. My shut off from the world time. Just me and my aching body, just me and the feel of my shoes and the tightness in my arms and the flexing of my calves. A time when I am not available to anyone else. Coming home, having my quick fix meal, and jumping into a warm shower (which almost makes the pain go away). Exercise is like really aggressive meditation. You should try it too.