A Family of Gym Rats

First Published April 30th 2012 by Andy Hinds

(Featured Image Credit: Pascal)

I no longer have any excuse for not going to the gym, and as a consequence I…have actually been going there.

I know.  I’m shocked too.

The reason my excuses have dried up is that my kids now love going to “Kids’ Club”–the child care facility at the gym–almost as much as they love going to Sea World In San Diego (amongst other attractions).

Pretty frequently now, we’ll actually go to the gym in the morning, eat some pizza, and then go to Sea World in the afternoon.  This is made possible by the somewhat tragic abandonment of the afternoon nap.  But that’s another story.

The girls’ love of Kids’ Club is due in large part to their new found passion for Dora the Explora, who I have wisely (I’m pretty sure) led them to believe exists only inside the magic glowy box there, and not on Mommy’s iPad, which only knows how to play Elmo and Barney (which I unwisely allowed to happen).

But that’s another other story, which I will call “Dora Turned My Kids into Zombies: My fight to get the childcare providers at the gym to pretend the TV is broken.”

This story is about how, after a three year absence, I went to the Saturday kickboxing class that my wife and I had attended regularly for at least two years before the kids were born.

I’ve been going to the gym pretty regularly for the last few months (kids in tow), but I’ve only been lifting weights and occasionally using cardio machines.  Which is, of course, bass-ackward since I should be trying to lose the twenty pounds I gained the moment I became a SAHD instead of cultivating the beer-gut-at-the-gun-show look.

Anyway.  We asked the kids what they wanted to do on Saturday morning, and in unison, they replied, “Kids’ Club!”

My wife has been going to the gym quite a bit lately too, which is a development I am behind 100%.  With the stars thusly aligned, we headed to our gayborhood gym.

Here are some non iPad related indoor activities for the kids, especially on those rainy days.

Aside from the logistics of getting both my wife and me to the gym at the same time, the other reason I hadn’t been to the kickboxing class, or done any kind of exercise that involved running or jumping, is that my back has been jacked up for over a year now.  I whined about it here a couple months ago.

Since the time of the whining, my back has gotten quite a bit better.  A recent MRI showed a dramatic improvement in my herniated disc, and I’ve been getting acupuncture regularly, which seems to be helping with the pain.  I’m down to about four Tylenol per day.  I also bought two books that are going to fix my posture and everything else about my life.  As soon as I read them.

So we ditch the kids and walk into the class.  We take our places in the exact same corner we always used to stake out, behind the exact same ripped Asian guy we always used to stand behind.  About half of the class, in fact, are people I recognize from before our kids were born.

“Oh my god!  Where have you guys been?”

Our presence has been noted by one half of the older (by which I mean maybe three years older than me), nerdy gay couple who always used to stand behind us back in the day.

“We’ve been having kids!”  My wife says.

“Kids?!  Plural?  How long has it been since we saw you?”

We explain.  Twins.  Almost three years old.  Et cetera.

The music starts.  The instructor does her shtick where she talks about how crazy and bad she is, throws in key phrases like up in the club, reminds us that she used to weigh 240 pounds.  It’s like we never left.

The warm up is the same, and my hands and feet remember how to do it.

Pretty soon I’m bobbing and weaving, hooking and jabbing, throwing roundhouse kicks (about a foot lower than I used to, but still…), and, of course, faking my way through the part where you’re supposed to shake your booty, since mine is completely rigid due to a genetic condition common among Northern European males.

Oh yeah, in case you were somehow misled into thinking the aesthetics of a “kickboxing class” were manly and martial, this is what it actually looks like.  Except that there are a lot more men taking the class at our gym:

But here’s the great part: once I get warmed up, I don’t feel like a decrepit old man anymore.  Sure, when we do jumps and quick-feet shuffles, I can feel the fat on my back heaving up and down, but I’m keeping up with some of the toughest chicks in the class.

I can still kick the asses of the nerdy old gay dudes!  Not that…you know…it’s a competition or anything.  But if it were, I would be in the top ten percent.

Fifteen percent at worst.  I’m BACK!  In the mirror, my movements look athletic, fluid, and coordinated instead of creaky and hurky-jerky, the way I’ve come to picture myself.  I feel almost exactly three years younger.  Three really, really, really long years.

After the class there’s still a half hour of free childcare left before Kids’ Club closes, so I hit the weight room while my wife does part of a yoga class.  As it gets closer to closing time, I peek into the Kids’ Club from across the building to see if the girls are zombified in front of the TV, or playing, or melting down.

Inside I see a woman I don’t recognize, wearing the staff uniform of black tights and a red t-shirt.   

Oh, hello, I think.  Who’s this? Is she…Asian?  Niiiice.  

I’m not gonna lie.  I leered.  I objectified.  I fetishized in an inexcusably white colonialist patriarchal way even before I could make out the features of her face.  And I would have been ashamed of myself  had I not realized after a couple seconds that the woman in the tights and red shirt was my wife.