PUMPING IRONY: Exercise Church

Bicycling on the Ford Bridge this glorious morning, I spotted a lone rower (sculler?) resting on the perfectly calm river below. It was a perfect Zen moment: a man balancing exquisitely in his knife-thin craft, oars extended, a water bug on the wide expanse of the Mississippi. . . . I didn’t do any rowing… Read more »

Bicycling on the Ford Bridge this glorious morning, I spotted a lone rower (sculler?) resting on the perfectly calm river below. It was a perfect Zen moment: a man balancing exquisitely in his knife-thin craft, oars extended, a water bug on the wide expanse of the Mississippi. . . .

I didn’t do any rowing last night at the gym (it’s a little hard on my twingy lower back), but — as promised — I finally did mix up my usual routine a little.  Ten minutes on the Elliptical Death Machine got my heart pumping pretty good, after which I moved over to the rubber mat area of the gym. There, I stretched out my quads, my hammies (ouch!) and my lower back (cobra pose) before launching into some ab work that I’m sure entertained the multitudes on the cardio machines behind me.

First, the prone cobra, which is supposed to help spinal mobility, but probably made me look like a beached whale. Then, the reverse crunch, which could be interpreted as an inability to rise after a bad fall. And, finally, the side crunch, which I frankly don’t even want to talk about.

Most people don’t like to exhibit their awkwardness in front of a crowd, and I’m no different. I like to amble confidently from station to station at the gym, pretending that I really know what I’m doing. So, this whole idea of flopping clumsily through some floor exercises in a public manner is a bit of stretch (sorry) for me. I’ve always thought exercise, like prayer, ought to be done in private.

But, I guess I should start thinking of the gym as a sort of exercise church (The P.T.’s are the ministers?) and myself as an acolyte. That might work — growing up as a Midwestern Lutheran, I never had to talk, really, about what I was doing in the pew or what I believed might be my reward. So, in that sense, it was a lot like my current gym experiences.

Of course, I haven’t been to church in a long, long time. Hmmmm. . . .

Anyway, yesterday’s workout reformation (sorry) inspired me to climb on the mysterious stair-climbing machine, which stands in the back of the cardio room like — well — a pulpit (sorry). I’d successfully avoided the urge to use this machine, fearing that my creaky knees would not survive more than a couple flights of mechanical stairs. But, it actually wasn’t too bad on the knees — tough on the calves, but not too bad on the knees.

Which would’ve allowed me to give thanks in a certain way, but I decided not to go there.

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