I work out once a year.
In college it was once a semester. I would take my student ID card and scan into the field house; usually it was sometime between midterms and finals. Frustrated with my complete lack of willpower to complete assignments and social angst bottling up inside of me because the boy from 3B just KEPT showing up no matter how nicely I implied I really didn't want him there, I would throw on tennis shoes and hurry past the group of buzzing socialness that always seemed gathered in my living room. The gym seemed my only valid hiding place. They'll never find me there, I would think. I'm NEVER there. This rare pilgrimage to the elliptical machines only occurred when my mind's automatic response to crisis was not its default eat-something-with lots-of-cheese-and-all-your-problems-will-be-solved setting. Instead, the brain said RUN!!! So I would; and six months later my body would want to repeat the process.
I was reminded last week why workouts in higher frequency are a bad idea. I signed up for a gym membership ... only $4 out of every paycheck thanks to a rockin' deal my company made. If I can continue to fit in the clothes I bought in high school it will save me money in the long run. They've still got two more years of wear left, right? So when my favorite jeans became snug and that red shirt was cutting off circulation to my elbows, I knew something had to be done.
My badge hadn't been activated yet when I showed up on Monday. The man at the desk handed me a temporary card and I swiped myself into the gym. I was halfway through my workout and almost through the Fountains of Wayne playlist on my iPod when I realized I had locked the temporary badge inside the locker room.
I was met with a long silence and blank stare at the end of my workout when I asked for another temporary badge to retrieve the first one.
"That was our only women's key," he said, recovering.
"So .... how do I get in?" I asked.
"You'll have to wait until another woman comes in. Guess you'll get that extra 10 minutes on the treadmill whether you like it or not!" he said with an encouraging smile.
I forced a laugh. I've already worked out longer tonight than in the last year combined, I thought. Where on earth was I going to get the willpower for another 10 minutes?
Well, I didn't wait 10 minutes -- an hour and a half later I was certain I was going to be the first person to die from exposure to gym air for unhealthily long periods of time. I looked like an idiot throwing a basketball a foot or two below the hoop and moving from piece to piece of equipment. At one point I found myself on a bike watching TV, not pedaling. I was the only girl in the gym. I got a lot of confused looks as I paced around the weights and turned pirouettes on the basketball court.
"We can't keep you here all night," the desk man finally told me.
So a 12-year-old kid from next door and his trainer were recruited from the baseball training facility. He shimmied up a ladder I was too short to climb and threw himself over the wall of the ladies locker room, sliding through the two-foot clearance between the dividing wall and the ceiling.
I was free!
I was also pretty sure I was humiliated. I'm going to keep my Taco Bell crunchwrap supremes and Chocolate Chex so I either need to learn to keep my badge with me, or get in better shape. That way, the next time I'm stuck in the gym for two hours, my endurance will be ready. Bring on the basketball!