If you choose to sign up with a fitness club, as I did recently, I recommend you schedule at least one session with a Personal Trainer who will assess your present lack of fitness and recommend exercises to fix whatever has sagged. For people my age gravity does more than keep one from floating off into space, it forces whatever was once up relentlessly down.
There was a time, years ago, when I looked pretty good in tapered shirts without a wrinkle at the waistline. I still wear tapered shirts, but they taper dramatically in the opposite direction and gravity is the reason –- that and cashew nuts and ice cream.
The personal trainers rambling around the floor of the club don’t even know gravity exists. They are chosen using some shoulder width vs. waist measurement formula or, for the ladies, how well they fill a T-shirt.
In a place like this, one expects a certain preoccupation with body parts. Casual conversation is heavily larded with terms such as lats, traps, pecs and abs. My own knowledge of anatomy is distinctly superficial. Fifty- seven years ago, while in art school, I had to study Anatomy and dimly recognized them as abbreviations for muscles with longer names. Because of some mental quirk, the only muscle I distinctly remember is the one with the longest name I ran across, the Extensor Longus Digitorum Pedis Communis, a stringy item running down the outside of each leg, doing God know what.
One of the questions my trainer asked during my assessment was if I had any particular goals. This was a chance I had waited at least fifty-three years to happen, the opportunity to use those words again in a regular conversation. “I’d really like,” said I, my voice growing louder so those nearby could hear, “to build up my Extensor Longus Digitorum Pedis Communis.” Heads turned. Even my trainer was impressed.
After all those years you can’t imagine what a satisfying moment in time that was!
The only equivalent word lodged in my brain is the one Mary Poppins uses to make her umbrella fly: supercalifragilisticexpealidocious. And that’s a whole lot easier to work into a conversation than Extensor Longus Digitorum Pedis Communis, particularly if one has grandchildren (or an umbrella).
Of all the muscles in the body, judging by the number of Fitness Made Simple TV commercials, the ones on which there is a national fixation are the abs. For years before we were able to afford a washing machine my Mother laundered the family’s clothes on a washboard with fewer wrinkles than John Basdow’s stomach.
My trainer assured me that I, too, have abs, though buried more deeply than any Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq, Iran or Syria — probably combined.
Given my age, I doubt there are enough years left for mine to become visible. It will probably require a post mortem period of desiccation for them to be apparent to the naked eye. The only recognition I’m likely to get for all the hard work at the club will be if I’m disinterred for an autopsy and the medical examiner scribbles a note on his report: “NICE ABS!”