Thanks to genetics and a recurring back injury due to a degenerating disc, I have to exercise or else I end up in excrutiating pain once a year. This past year I hadn’t been diligent about it and, once again, ended up in an ungodly amount of pain and distress and hoo boy wasn’t THAT fun.
I really don’t want to do that again.
So I started back to physical therapy for several weeks at a local practice and really liked it. I had stated my goal was to be able to run some version of an NFL combine (for my Life List) because if I could do THAT I knew I would be in good shape.
All was trucking along fine until my insurance company decided I was healed enough to be done with physical therapy (they were sort of right) so I stopped. But then I started to hurt again. I decided I needed to return to some sort of structured workout that cared for my back but also allowed me at some point to transition to some performance training. (Oh, and of course the one I chose is out of network for my insurance, but I’m sucking it up.)
This is where I am currently training. What you will notice if you click on that link is that this place is really geared towards professional athletes. The folks who come here are training for the draft out of college (from all over the country), pro football players, etc. There are also folks like me who are just trying to recover from something and push it to the next level – or just, you know, be functional again.
Three times now I’ve gone to work out and each time I was surrounded by a ton of pro football players. Many Minnesota Vikings based on what I can tell – and many from other random teams. I’m totally the wrong person to be working out here as my knowledge of sports players is limited to those who are currently embroiled in a sex scandal, in jail or somehow may have an interesting hair and sports name combo. (See: Cherokee Parks)
This is an entirely different world. Really, there is no other way to describe it. These guys are huge and strong and agile and haze each other like 15 year old boys in men’s bodies. Testosterone drips from the air and I tweeted that I was drunk on it at one point. These guys may or may not listen to their trainer, but from what I’ve seen they work awfully hard and can do things with their bodies I have NEVER been able to do – even when I was in really good shape.
Defensive ends lifting god-awful amounts of weight. Running backs leaping from a standing position as high as my shoulders (and I’m 5’9”). Receivers moving in drills that astonish me. It’s enough to make you feel like an asshole for being out of shape at the ripe ol’ age of 39.
I love this place. It is SO not my regular life. But it is a terrific experience – and I think that’s why it is effective. It is so easy to get caught up in “regular” life that exercise and health become just drudgery and boredom. The power of putting yourself in a completely unfamiliar environment is fantastic. Do I feel ridiculous? Yep. Do I feel weak and silly? You bet. But that goes away. Eventually I realized that everyone is there to work. Me included.
And after all of this hard work? I expect to not only be able to pass all sorts of fitness tests, but I better have some rocking abs, ass and arms.
Updated: I wrote this post shortly after getting home from a workout. My endorphins have since worn off and I went immediately to the bathroom for an Aleve. Oh, my G-d I am old.