Today was the first time in a week that I went to the gym while not simultaneously being sick. I somehow managed to catch a stupid cold two Sundays ago after we’d gone for a run and I had broken my all time record (7,66 km at 5:25 / km pace: good enough for a record in my house). We sat down for drinks at a cafe while I was still enjoying my new-found athleticism and eventually decided to eat there, thus slowly cooling off. Enough for me to be sick for 10 days (also, I have a pretty weak constitution).
So I went hard: 10-minute cardio with a peak at 15 km/h, then off to the bench press. Note: this was the first time I was using the bench press in 6 years; I have been doing chest exercises for months, but I’m using machines for that and they just don’t use the same muscles. So I started light: I lifted the bar alone (it counts). Then I added weights: 5 kgs on each side (30 kgs total, pre-teen level), then 10 (40 kgs, beginner level), then 15… At that point, I was feeling the burn, and I’m not talking politics. Specifically, my shoulders, which had gone virtually unused with the machines, were beginning to shake like it was 20°F in the room. And I was sweating.
I stood up to take a short break: a guy entered the room, almost running towards the other bench press, right next to mine. He was 4 (or 5) inches taller than me, he had 3 tattoos per limb (not that I counted) and his arms were wider than my legs (and I’ve been running). In other words, I didn’t look good standing next to him. He started warming up… with 70 kgs, i.e. 20 kgs more than my maximum. He only did a couple of sets and went off to the other room, the one that has all the machines.
I quit was I was doing: the heart wasn’t there anymore. I went to the machine room: the dude was standing in the center, doing 3 exercises at once: mixing up pull-ups, arm work with pulleys and upper body stuff with ropes that looked like the training medley in the barn in Rocky IV. I kept working on my pecs with a couple of machines, although somewhat more moderately: I was half looking at the guy, just to see what he was up to. Also, I was reaching the limits of what my chest could take and I still needed it to carry a backpack later.
I finished off with triceps stuff, the one where you pull down that tiny bit of rope until you can’t anymore (which can be quick). The other guy was now using the pulldown machine: that fact that I knew that doesn’t mean I was obsessed, it just happened to face my ropey spot (besides, why would I be obsessed with a tall, buff and tattooed guy?). However, he was not using it the usual way: his body was facing the opposite direction, he was sitting on the floor instead of the bench that goes with the machine, and he was flexing his arms one by one, even though everyone knows you’re supposed to flex both simultaneously.
I didn’t tell him that, though: he looked busy.