Chris Johnson

A new gym experience had reluctant workout warrior’ ready to sign on the dotted line’

I’ve joined about 137 gyms over the past 30 years or so. So far, I’ve lost a pound. One time. I think.

In between gym memberships, I’ve come up with all kinds of ways to stay fit at home and save money. Most of my ideas involve things like walking, push-ups and sit-ups — things that don’t cost a lot of money. My wife comes up with machines that cost tons of money and promise to change your life.

“Yeah, it’s changed all right! Now I have to walk around that $800 monstrosity every time I try to get to my truck!”

My garage is actually half for parking a car (my wife’s car, not my truck, of course) and half for exercise equipment including that monstrosity, some free weights and a wrist-sprainer — some call it a punching bag, but for me it’s mainly been for spraining wrists. I have found it a very helpful way to start my mornings as I slug it on the way to my truck and put myself in the proper mood to deal with all those annoying humans out there.

For weeks, my wife has been trying to talk me into joining a gym once again, especially after the summer and early fall was way too hot to work out in the garage. My exercise routine devolved into less-complicated activity like margarita lifting and remote control button pushing. Sometimes I’d work in some cardio challenges, such as an aggressive nap.

At last I agreed to take a look at yet another gym. It had a lot of machines, plenty of room, weights everywhere, loads of televisions … basically everything I’ve come to expect from a gym. It did not have a bunch of hulky guys checking themselves out in the mirror and grunting as they lifted weights, so that was a nice change. I mean, I like to check myself out in the mirror, too, because I like to point at and make fun of out of shape guys. I save most of my grunting for getting off the sofa. Anybody can grunt while doing arm curls with 60-pound weights, but lifting 200 pounds off a sofa is far more worthy of good grunts.

As my wife listened to a guy drone on about gym features, I just kept on the face I use when we shop for vehicles — disgusted, disinterested and determined to go home without buying anything.

Then he led us into a dark room, and everything changed. It was the hydromassage room. I’d never had a hydromassage, so I assumed it was some lady hosing folks down with a high-pressure water hose, kinda like Rambo in “First Blood” except that Rambo didn’t have to pay extra for the service.

But, no, these are beds upon which you lie while water pounds your body like Manny Pacquiao. The water is contained underneath the bed, and waves go back and forth from head to toe or any area in which you want it to concentrate.

That sealed the deal. I signed us up a few minutes later. Now, I’m unintentionally getting back into shape — a sorta oblong shape — only so that I have an excuse to lie on the hydromassage bed after each workout. Unfortunately, you only get to use the beds for 10 minutes at a time. Otherwise, I’d be doing one minute on the elliptical machine and then saying, “Whew! That was rough. Well, time to go massage the back for a couple of hours.”

If I’d have only known how relaxing massages are, I could have been stopping at all those massage joints along I-75 that advertise they have truck parking. I do have a pickup truck, after all. Of course, I suspect my 10-minute massages are cheaper than the Robert Kraft-style rubdowns. And I’m much less likely to get arrested at the gym. That’s good because average folks can’t get out of those situations like Kraft and his rich, privileged ilk can.

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