Adventures in physical fitness

I am ridiculously out of shape.
I’m overweight. I lack in such important areas as strength and flexibility.
My diet, though not horrible, could be a lot better.
And I don’t exercise nearly enough — which is to say that I barely exercise at all.

I am, in other words, not that different from most Americans. However, given that I’m the editor of the Health and Fitness section for Hearst Connecticut — and that I handle much of the health news coverage for the Connecticut Post — my status as a couch potato is slightly embarrassing.

In the interest of eliminating my guilt — and, of course, of achieving better health — my husband and I joined a gym this weekend. (Because I’ve not asked anyone for permission to use their name, I’m withholding both the name of the gym and any personnel I’ve dealt with).

Right out of the gate, I found myself faced with several obstacles. First, what to wear? I thought this was answered pretty easily, as I have some perfectly fine workout pants and an ample supply of t-shirts. Sure, my workout pants were covered with paint, from when were working on our new house. And yes, my t-shirts were also covered in paint ( and most of them bear the logos of various canceled TV shows). But workout clothes are meant to be functional, right? It doesn’t matter that they’re paint splattered or have the words “Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles” emblazoned across them. All they need is to be comfortable, right?

Not so, sayeth the spouse. “You can’t wear those!” my husband said incredulously upon hearing my apparel plans. “You’ll look like trash.”

By means of compromise, I dug out a pair of sweat pants my in-laws had given me for Christmas a few years ago. They are blue and black velour and make me look like I should be working out alongside Carmela Soprano. But they were paint-free and, hence, deemed more appropriate.

But my apparel wasn’t the only issue. I hadn’t worked out in so long, I was worried that it would be tough to get back in the habit. I quickly learned that this was a valid concern. Our gym membership came with a free personal training session. My husband took his first and was unhelpfully stingy with the details.

When I showed up Monday morning for my session, I was pretty nervous. But my trainer, whom I will dub Mr. McEvilton, seemed nice enough. It couldn’t be THAT bad, right?

And it didn’t start out that bad. I did some lunges, a few plank push-ups, lifted some weights — all of which went pretty smoothly. But it got progressively tougher. My memory is hazy, but I remember a lot of squatting, leaping and stretching in odd positions. At one point, I had to do 30 seconds of jumping jacks, followed by another 30 seconds of some other leaping exercise. Combined, this was the longest minute of my life.

When it was all done, I was gushing sweat and my heart was pounding. To say I did not feel good would be an understatement. To say I briefly tasted bile and feared an ambulance would be needed is more accurate.

I felt like a slug. Worse, I felt like a slug that was in its last moments on earthy, slithering to a sweaty, painful demise. I actually spent a few moments kneeling on the floor of the gym’s bathroom, to the point where a passing maintenance woman trilled “Hello? Are you OK?”

But, actually, I was OK. The pounding and nausea passed. And, while I was exhausted, I felt I had accomplished something. Sure, when Trainer McEvilton sincerely stated that it was great working out with me, I immediately assumed he had a “50 Shades of Grey”-style red room of pain in his house. But it was nice to hear.

After my queasiness passed, I was handed some helpful tips for nutrition and working out. I hope to return tomorrow to do more — this time at my own pace, to lessen the chance of a workout-induced panic attack. We’ll see how this goes.

Amanda Cuda