The Gym Isn’t So Bad After All

Kauai spring rains forced the author indoors. Jane Esaki photo

Kauai spring rains forced the author indoors. Jane Esaki photo

Who would’ve thought that I would join a gym? Not me, anyway, not in a thousand years.

As a young adult, I wondered why people would subject themselves to heavy lifting that wasn’t going to stock shelves or put money on the table, treading on surfaces that didn’t lead anywhere, and flailing their appendages uselessly about when the kitchen needed sweeping and the window screens were dirty.

On top of that, these gym rats signed fancy contracts and paid big bucks every month to join these athletic clubs. I couldn’t fathom paying someone else so I can do all the work. I stayed as far away as I could from getting inducted into this scam.

So when a good friend joined a newly opened gym in Kapahi, my excuses were as thick as the clouds that lingered over Mount Waialeale this year. But it was exactly this year’s exceptionally rainy spring days that made it difficult to ply Kauai’s rivers with our stand-up paddleboards. As I watched my friend’s exhilaration after each gym workout, it didn’t take much for me to sign up at the promotional rate with little paperwork.

But I refused to be the typical gym rat.

An immutable country bumpkin, I stood in contrast among the Adonises, cougars and bathing beauties. I resisted the newest gym accoutrements, wearing worn-out shorts and old comfy tops. My only investment was a pair of gym shoes because the splitting soles of my old ones trapped some stubborn dried Hanakapiai trail mud, an inexcusable offense.

I also never used the shower in the fresh spacious locker room after sweating because, unlike the more conscientious, my logic defaulted to “I’ll dry up anyway and who says I don’t smell pretty?” And it’s useless to brush my hair because my Asian locks and humidity are often quick enemies.

Also, despite the abundance of new cutting-edge equipment, free classes and even a mixed martial arts arena, I had one main objective, to religiously acquaint myself with just one stationary exercise machine, the elliptical, which works arms and legs without putting pressure on the joints.

For nearly three months, I was on “quick start” mode on this cross-trainer, probably the easiest workout possible. But no one was looking. By the time my contract ended, I had advanced to the “cardio” mode — never mind that I may be the only one who thinks it is advanced; taken 30-minutes of a stretching class, and prescribed myself a few ab workouts. Obviously though, I was not enough of a gym rat, and I seriously debated renewing the deal.

Then one day my kids surprisingly volunteered that they noticed, with their x-ray vision of course, some biceps emerging. Really? What do they want from me? Also I had become increasingly aware of my coronary arteries telling me to keep going before the golden years creep up. And my abs begged daily for more mercy. Finally, the sweating brought on endorphins that told me “I like it, I like it!”

I am hooked. Sign me up again. At whatever cost. After all, I don’t have a laborious nine-to-five job now. I am not treading on surfaces to get anywhere specific every day. And I am not compelled to religiously clean the house anymore. I have no excuses left.

My new millennium has arrived.