Today I woke up, among a lack of drive, aches in the center of traps, spinning wheels against the uneasiness of day. I looked for inspiration in opened paperbacks, dipped into phony motivation within cups of roasted caffeine. I regretted it once I finished the cup because my mouth tasted like darkness and death. But, the mood was lightened through warm phone conversations. I came across a twenty-four hour CVS store, entered awkwardly like an orphanage and lingered in the wellness aisles, until I purchased a 5-hour energy drink.
On the train platform I waited. Destination to gym was approximately thirty minutes. Similar to a concealed alcoholic, I glanced over my shoulder; full suspicion, threw my head back and drank junk energy. Eleven-something-PM and the red line pulled in with swarming bodies. I entered and a kind middle-aged man took his jacket off the seat, so I can sit and wouldn’t have to scramble for a comfortable standing spot. I smiled. I didn’t want to be rude and decline the offer and in return I thanked him. I sat between him and another man who plainly made love to his dazzling tablet with his eyes.
Smashed in the middle, my arms laid over my book-bag, hands clasped obedient. Heat rose to caress my face, but it was followed by rolled evil eyes. I scanned mush-sardines everywhere. And every now and again, I stared awfully long and awfully hard at the ceiling, prayed to God for bodies to exit the cart or die. I wasn’t sure how much longer I could take my inner thighs contracting under excruciating tension. There was wicked edge in my legs and they were about to cramp like Charlie horses in the core of night. I prayed in excess. I needed anything and everything to take my mind away from expanding fury.
When I noticed a group of male friends in front of me lined up like bowling pins and how each had the same brand on: Levi’s. My heart rate decreased from anger and eased once I searched for the outlines of buttocks: Who owned the biggest, who was trying to show it off and who was trying to put their glutes out of sight? Then the kind man who made space for me originally was getting off the train and my heart soared knowing I’d be able to breathe large again by swerving to the left and conquering the corner seat. Thank god and the heavens!
Walking through the gym doors, I saw the regular night shift receptionist guy put his conversation on hold to greet me with a huge grin; he puts my mind at ease by saying, “Hello! Have a good one!” All smiles, passing a row of proud ellipticals; I jog the flight of stairs. I quickly analyzed the weight-room with a criminal grill, turned the corner to find a caramel-Dominican running on the treadmill in mesh shorts with buttocks hopping in succession. I slowed down to catch a few seconds of eye-candy and disappeared like magic into the locker room.
Feeling internally flirty, the hair went in a high ponytail, bangs are held back by a bobby pin and I creep to the weight-room floor. I eye-fucked the first exercise to get me primed and ready to rock and roll: Seated rows! And with the lat-pulldown bar attachment, taking the hand placement as wide as the sky, set after set, fifteen full reps each, I burn and flame, burn and flame. I start to love myself. The blaze starts to give me repeated drive.
I moved on to dumbbell seated shoulder press and with the first set I reached a full fifteen reps with 30lbs. But by the third set my triceps were fried (thanks to the bang of the buck of Seated Rows – surely you can figure it out) and my favorite technique, rest-pause took over. It went from 5 to 4 to 3 reps. My mental flare shook its head each time in a kind of displeased failure. Angry, I powerwalked to the back of the gym and sighed at the sight of the pull-up assisted machine.
I know how every rep feels before I perform them: Difficult, treading through deep water, muddy-like, an overload of massive bodyweight. Sometimes I wish they were a walk through the park, but deep down inside I would never want this. Roughly 8 set of tough chins and pulls than kept it moving. The incline rear-delt flyes are tougher than they appear; the ego lowers itself along with the weight to be used, another exercise that stops the hardcore flare in my mind. After deep breaths taken, full contraction and 2-3 second holds at the top of every rep, the first set wrapped, and I notice the group of men from the corner of my eyes nodding respect at my performance.
The most challenging thing of the rear-delt flyes is not dropping my face into the bench when I start to fatigue and create grimaces like a mad hulk, to fight any sort of momentum and not go beyond the range of motion to strike a meek nerve. Then on to the front raise with a barbell, go high above my head, core braced and my entire body tight in one line. The scorching starts from the top of my traps, slides into my deltoids and enters in the center of my back. By the end of the sets, I pause on every fourth rep. I shake my head in partial defeat, and I rise again in full power.
By this time, I imagine the snarl of my vagina rages with odors of unfathomable ammonia, growing more teeth as every bit of exhaustion tries to yank me in submission. I stuck my hand out in front of my body and examined my fingers for the rush and temp of adrenaline. I need the shaking reminder, the bearing of fruit. Happy and high, bent-over rows became the name of the game, pyramided by 10lb increments, pushing through countless reps and the dead hang arm feeling only to row, row, row it back.
Face pulls, a classic, cable tension, good stretch, long step back. I felt my teres minor flared from the front raises and as a result I stretched for twenty seconds in between sets. Then the lat-pulldown machine, not cable, actual machine because my muscles respond at a greater frenzy. Within this meantime, I couldn’t help but enjoy the puzzled look on the woman’s mug, a kind of blasé air, pursed lips on a nipple water bottle, eyes lowered, dragged in slow-motion to the corner to glare towards my action.
I finished with calves on an extension machine I grew to love; abusing it bilaterally until they scream further into mercy unilaterally followed by abdominal exercises. My entire happy ending came to a halt once I got down on the perky blue mat of heaven and performed 50 reps of Superwoman’s and heard the middle of my back crack. I found myself in the locker, hands washed, headphones bagged in its pouch, headed down the stairs where the guy receptionist said, “Have a good night.”
And I did.
But I’m still struggling from the lack of motivation.