Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Return to the Gym Unlocks Painfully Stupid Memories

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Return to the Gym Unlocks Painfully Stupid Memories

Article excerpt

Last week, I started with 40 pound weights.


Went down to 30-pounders.


Then, settled on 20.

Hmm ...

Going back to the gym after an almost two-year absence is, among other things, a humbling experience.

It's been 22 months since I broke my shoulder and seriously injured my back after sliding off an icy step.

The shoulder healed nicely. My rehab seemed to go well. But, since then, the old bod has never been quite the same.

A few weeks ago, in desperation, I began doing some stretching exercises. And, as I felt my body responding to that activity, visions of locker rooms danced through my head.

So ... back to the gym?

Sure, why not? Liz and Dick went back to the altar. Frankie and Annette went "Back to the Beach." And Michael J. Fox went back to the future so many times, he caused a global plutonium shortage.

On the plus side, I knew there'd be no paperwork involved, because I have one of those gym memberships that goes on forever. Even if you die, they make you pay for another six months ... and show up for your big farewell Zumba party.

On the negative side ...

Well, let's face it: The hardest thing about going to the gym is going to the gym.

You have to make up your mind that you're going; pack your gym bag; leave the house ... it's exhausting.

In my case, I also had to get new sweats, new shorts and a new combination lock, because I couldn't remember where I put the last one.

And that last chore brought me back to a particularly painful memory from childhood. When I started high school in 1968, I got a gym lock -- from my school -- that was registered with a science teacher who was also, for lack of a better phrase, the dean of combinations.

The lock came with a tiny flap of cardboard that had three numbers printed on it. On the first day of gym, our coach said, "If you can't remember your combination, put the cardboard in your shoe."

Of course, he meant "GYM shoe." (Sneaker.) But I dutifully put it in my dress shoe, which I then locked up in my locker.

This resulted, one hour later, in an embarrassing confrontation.

"Just how stupid are you?" Coach asked.

Moments later, I was dashing through the halls -- in my skimpy gym suit -- in search of the science teacher with the Big Book of Combinations. …

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