Chris headed down south for a surf this morning and, not wanting to be stuck at home alone, I decided to buy a day pass to the gym at a resort nearby his surf spot. I hadn’t had an opportunity to run in three weeks and riding the bike in my living room was getting kind of old.
I was so excited about going for a run this morning that I had trouble sleeping. I woke up before my alarm and, since it is an hour drive to the beach, I even showered and ate breakfast beforehand. We loaded up the car with a surfboard, changes of clothes, and cheery attitudes.
About halfway to Mahabalipuram Chris asked me what my game plan was. I told him about my grand plans for doing a full-body weight lifting routine and probably running at least 10 miles. After all, I’m not sure when I’ll get to go back to a gym again and I am paying to use this one. I better get my money’s worth!
He looked a bit surprised. “What if it’s like the Sheraton’s gym?” If you recall, the Sheraton gym was pretty bare bones and the ‘trainer’ at the Sheraton was a bit overbearing, once he even adjusted the speed on my treadmill for me.
I quickly dismissed that thought. After all, this is a resort, not a business hotel. It would probably have a killer gym, maybe even with a shower for me to use afterwards. Plus, at a resort, the gym staff would be used to women exercising and wouldn’t bat an eye at me. I couldn’t wait to get started!
I arranged for my day pass, then made my way to the fitness center. As I rounded the top of the staircase, I could see through the double glass doors that it was a fairly well equipped gym with several treadmills, an elliptical (with an impossibly long line), a variety of machines, and even some free weights.
As I passed through the doors, I was almost immediately greeted by a female staff member. “Please come with me to change into your exercise clothes.”
Looking down at my running skirt, “These are my workout clothes.” Admittedly, running skirts are not all that popular here.
I asked if there was a restroom nearby. Many of the runners reading this understand that for maximum comfort it is important to use the bathroom to the fullest extent possible before heading out for a run. She showed me to the bathroom, then proceeded to stand outside the stall door waiting for me. Being a somewhat timid bathroom user, that totally ruined my mojo. Off I went to wash my hands and give running a try anyway.
As I approached the treadmill the gym lady was replaced by a male trainer who instructed me on proper use of a treadmill. I listened politely, hoping that he would let me be after that. No dice. During my warm up, he continued to stand directly behind my treadmill. When I paused the machine for a stretch ten minutes in, he was immediately by my side asking if everything was ok.
If I hadn’t experienced such attentive service at the Sheraton, I probably would have assumed that he could tell that I was pregnant and that he was concerned about me. Instead, I am beginning to think that this is just typical gym staff behavior here.
My run didn’t go exactly as planned. After twenty minutes, I was hot, more tired than I thought I should be, frustrated by being watched, and disappointed that I wasn’t cranking out sub-nine minute miles.
Let’s think that one through. Reality check!
Self: (1) You were recovering from an injury and not running for two months before you found out that you were pregnant. (2) When you finally started running again, it was on a limited basis and at a very moderate pace. (3) Due to your running constraints in Chennai, you haven’t exactly been running regularly. (4) You are 23 weeks pregnant. It is somewhat standard to get slower and feel like running takes more effort.
Reflecting on this later, it all makes sense. At the time, it was a very traumatizing realization. I considered doing some, probably hormonally induced, crying about it, but decided against that. Instead, I found new determination to salvage my workout.
I headed to the weights side of the gym, male trainer shadow in tow, and proceeded to do a respectable full-body lifting routine. I may or may not have been a bit assertive with him to get him to leave me alone. I am just not used to someone selecting the weight plates to put on my bench press bar. Believe it or not, I’ve used one of these before and I can pick appropriate weights myself.
When I finished lifting, I knew that I had some time to kill before Chris would be done surfing and I still had a burning desire to reclaim my ability to run, so I headed back to the bathroom, thinking that giving that another try could only improve my running odds.
Who do you think appeared at the bathroom stall? Trainer girl, of course!
Out of nowhere, she was right there in case I needed help or something. Not surprisingly, it was not all that helpful for me. As soon as I could see her outside the stall, I retreated to the treadmill deciding to give it another go anyway.
My second run was still pretty crummy by six months ago’s standards, but was a marked improvement from my first attempt. I ran, joyfully, but slowly, for 25 minutes before my body had enough running and my mind had tired of contending with the attentiveness of male gym trainer.
All in all, I don’t feel like I got a very good workout in. My bike rides have felt far more effective and I am still able to crank out the same distance and intensity of workout on the bike as always. I have complained to Chris and anyone else who would listen about the monotony of my bike workouts lately, but that was driven by naïvety. In reality, the bike isn’t so bad after all.
The week after next I am headed to China again where I will probably
get have to dabble in running again. I am optimistic that this was just an off day and my next runs will go more smoothly. I’ll keep you posted!