A while back, I
read a quote from His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who was asked something about
what one needs to live a satisfying life. His response: “Routine.” I was
thinking about that last night as I was bouncing from one station to the next at
the gym. I really need to settle on a specific routine rather than wandering
around so aimlessly.
It’s not that I
don’t have some idea of a regimen. I always do about 30 minutes of cardio on
the Elliptical Death Machine (I’ve been avoiding the stationary bikes lately
for some unknown reason — oh wait, I know why: They’re even more boring than
the EDM) before descending into The Pit or wandering among the push-pull
machinery. And I almost never
stretch, if almost never doing something can be seen as part of your routine.
And though I always leave the gym feeling more awesomely manly than when I
entered (who doesn’t, right?), lately it feels like I’m not really moving in
any particular direction.
Plus, I don’t
like the feeling of standing in front of the dumbbell racks with no real clue
of what I’m going to do next. All around me, gigantic guys in sleeveless shirts
(if you’ve gone to all the trouble of getting a tattoo . . .) are muscling up
impressive poundage as if each particular exercise actually fits into some sort
of plan, and I’m standing there
scratching my head, trying to remember the difference between a Bulgarian Split
Squat and a compound row. The last thing I want to do is imitate what some
freak of nature next to me is doing with those 60-pound dumbbells or
impulsively slap a bunch of iron on a barbell and find myself hideously
ago, I had a pretty decent free-weights routine going: barbell squats, dead
lifts, bench presses, tricep extensions, bicep curls, and overhead dumbbell
presses. But the barbell squats killed my knees, the deadlifts hurt my back,
and one gracious P.T. suggested maybe I should modify my approach for the good
of my overall longevity. She was right, of course, because I’m still alive, but
I’ve been kind of lost in the wilderness since then.
I could seek out
one of the other kind P.T.s (she’s since moved on) for advice, but that’s not
really the cut of my jib. I like to figure things out for myself, especially
when it comes to endeavors such as gym wandering, during which I prefer to stay
under the public radar (yes, I know, I’m writing a blog about it, but try to
ignore the incongruity; if I can, so can you). Besides, I have hundreds of
articles about workouts in the magazine’s archives I can draw upon, if I so
choose. But then, of course, who wants to wander around the gym carrying some
Xeroxed pages from the magazine? Where would I put them while I do my Bulgarian
Split Squats? And who’s to say I could accomplish even a poor rendition of a
Bulgarian Split Squat?
Anyway, you get
my drift: In order to do something different at the gym, I need to arm myself
with some new information — and then actually follow those directions. It’s a
tall order for a guy who’s sort of come to the realization that the biggest
draw at the gym is its flat-screen TVs–where else can I catch The Biggest Loser or Sports Center? The only TV at my place
is controlled by my 22-year-old daughter, and I pity the fool who gets up in
her grill while she’s watching Numbers.
But, maybe it’s time to push the envelope a little. I’ve got nothing to lose
but my self-respect.