Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Crawling out of the weight room

Total. Muscle. Failure. I was warned of these three words before starting a High Intensity Training workout at East Bank Club, but I was ready to take on the challenge anyway. After all, there was no disclaimer saying "attempt at your own risk". But, within minutes of starting on the weights, I was ready to quit. Or throw up. Or both.

Dan, my trainer, assured me this was normal. He even said that some people start to feel dizzy or light-headed as he works their muscles to the max. Well OK, at least I didn't feel like I was going to faint. But a million thoughts on failure and self-doubt did race through my head. Leg press: Am I really this weak? I thought my legs were my strong suit. Leg lifts: Is it normal to be sweating this much while raising my legs in the air? Isolated leg lunges: Am I actually doing these right? Are they supposed to hurt this much and why are my muscles twitching? Chest press machine: Did Dan lower the weight, he must really think I'm a weakling. Lat pulldown with handles: I used to like this machine...so why are my arms in so much pain? Breathe, go slow, breathe. Chest press on bench: Whoa that's a lot of weight (50 pounds), um, help? Chin up: I'm going to crumble to the ground! I...can't...hold...this...for...a...minute. Lateral raise: Chains? Are my arms lopsided? Why is my left arm not moving at all? Don't make the chain links jingle--slow and steady, slow and steady. Argh, ugh, keep going, last one.

Chains drop and I'm done. Oh and ouch! I can feel every muscle in my forearms writhing in pain and soreness. My legs are still pulsating and when they see the stairs say no thank you. I have the option of working my wrists--Dan explains that the females he trains typically don't do the wrist moves--and I give it a shot anyway. I'm gripping an inch-thick bowel, winding a string with a weight tied to the bottom around it, raising and lowering, until I'm ready to quit. I swear I thought my hands would give out as my wrist muscles throbbed. Talk about a strengthening workout...and to get it done in 45 minutes or less? Crazy that something could be so painful so fast.

Now it's Matt's turn and I can really see how it's done. Dan and Matt train together, putting each other through this intense torture twice a week, sometimes three. I'm watching Matt rotate through some of the same machines I just did--and with way more weight--and adding a few others to work more muscle groups in his neck, abs, quads, biceps and triceps.

Matt's sweating, breathing heavy, turning beet red, grimacing to finish the reps (yay, just like me). I glance around at others and Matt looks like the only person actually having an effective workout in the weight room, working himself to sheer exhaustion. Did he just say his quad gave out on a leg curl? Was that 360 pounds on the chest press? Did he just do the leg press with one leg and then switch? And as he's breathing heavy and letting the red color drain from his face, he tells me he has a client to meet with afterward. At least after 37 minutes of pushing to the max, he's set to recover for three days until it happens all over again.

As for me, I think I need a nap.

Photo grabbed from Personal Training Corpus Christi at flickr. Posted by Kate

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