Back in my college days, I took advantage of the school fitness center. One day while I walked the long and weary road (a.k.a. the treadmill), I watched a guy approach a machine. Now, this was one of those machines you need to adjust. And it was an easy adjust – pull a pin and move the seat.
He sat down. He stood up. He looked at the machine. He looked under the machine. The machine didn’t fit him, but how to change it? I could have showed him, but even then I knew that a lot of times guys don’t appreciate help when they’re going about the business of being manly.
So I watched as he sat back down, stood back up, then walked away without using the machine. In bold, black letters, the back of his T-shirt said, “FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION.”
Flash forward twenty years, one husband, two kids, and twenty-plus pounds. Last night I used a free pass to a local gym and attempted a workout. I opted for “The Circuit.” Twenty machines and exercises lined up in a no-fail row. Just jump on those bad boys, follow the directions and the timer light, and in no time you’ll have a full body workout, easy-peasy. cough, cough.
I did pretty well until…The Ab Twister. (a.k.a. The Pride Buster.) Now, this was one of those machines you need to adjust. (Sound familiar?) It took me a full 30 seconds to figure out where to sit, let alone what to adjust. So I stood there staring at the machine and trying to look cool.
Seriously? I know – This machine holds no mystery for you experienced gym goers. To me, it looks like someone padded a relic from the Spanish Inquisition and set the whole thing in The Circuit.
The timer light turned green, telling me to GO! I read the directions. I looked at the machine. I tried to match the parts of the machine with the words in the directions. I sat down. I stood up. I pulled one knob and pushed another. The seat swung around with a clang. Did I mention that this machine is, literally, FIVE FEET in front of cardio row?
Oh, the poetic justice.
In times like these, I pretend I’m invisible. Do you know how hard that is when a buff, gym-body person is working the elliptical trainer five feet away, and you know they’ve got nothing better to do than idly watch the inept newbie pull knobs and flail around on the ab machine?
The timer light turned red. Again. By now the timer light had gone through at least two cycles. The timer waits for nobody. I finally raised the seat to the right height, according to the picture. I pushed and pulled knobs.
I twisted and squirmed till I heard and felt the machine clink into a position that might match the directions. I grabbed what I was pretty sure were the handles. I twisted one way, then the other. The timer light went on and off again. The timer light is a cold-hearted coach. I twisted back and forth ten times – after all this, you better believe I was gonna get a set in.
The directions told me to “repeat for the other side.” Not on your life. The timer light turned red. I was done. Finished. NEXT MACHINE!
After I finished my workout, and after I filled out the paperwork to actually join the gym, the front desk guy asked me if I had any questions. As a matter of fact, I did. Would he show me how to work one particular machine? Sure, he’d be happy to.
He led me over. He glanced at the directions. “Well, you just…” he pulled a knob. Nothing happened. He tugged the seat. Nothing happened. He pushed a knob.
The seat swung to the side but didn’t click in place. “You just slide this over here….” nothing clicked. Finally he got it set in place and demonstrated, then confirmed that yes, I should repeat the whole process for the other side. He walked away. Rather quickly, I thought.
I stared at the machine. I didn’t care about the timer light. I didn’t care about the people in cardio row. I probably would have cared about the two guys who were about to use the machine, but I didn’t see them till I was done. oops.
I sat down. I pushed and pulled that stupid knob till I clicked that seat into place on one side. Success! Then I pushed and pulled that knob some more and got the seat to click on the other side. Then I practiced it again on the first side. Then again on the other side. Then I set the weights and did 10 reps on each side.
I stepped off. I felt great! My imaginary inspirational T-shirt should have read, “Failure is the door to success.”
Nah. It should have read,
“Failure’s a learning experience – That’s life. Hope you enjoyed the show!” 🙂