Day 58

In a corner of our gym there’s a paper sign up that says “THE PUNCHING BAG NO LONGER BELONGS HERE.” Evidently this means there’s a new spot for the punching bag and the management doesn’t want anyone to move it back into that particular corner. But the sign seems so much more poignant than that. The punching bag has moved on! The punching bag isn’t going to be your punching bag anymore! The punching bag is on a Greyhound bus this very moment, daydreaming about a better life and headed anywhere but here. Stay gold, punching bag, stay gold.

This is just to say that I’ve been at the gym a lot. I have to say it because I’m not sure if you can see it yet. (And certainly you can’t see me right this very minute through the internet, but you know.) In addition to the swimming, I’ve been doing the Weights/Hateful Pop Remixes class twice a week. I’ve gone fifteen times. I know this because I have a punch card, and after doing sixteen classes in eight weeks I’ll get a free quarter-zip sweatshirt from the gym. A sweatshirt that says, What kind of asshole can’t lift weights for eight weeks? NOT ME! No, that’s really what it says, in the iron-on letters of my mind. But whatever: apparently I really respond to incentives. Chris and I are also doing another eight-week thing, a holiday survival challenge where you can get a gym bag for not getting fat during the holidays. A whole gym bag! And then an bonus T-shirt if you try six classes! We’ll do anything for stuff! We’ll work our asses off for an empty Pez dispenser! For a box of paper clips! I’m almost not kidding! I suppose the magic is somewhere in the eight weeks part, eight weeks or some other chunk of time long enough to forget the beginning but short enough to remind you that it hasn’t been forever and that you’re still pretty much a dumbass.

But the nice thing about these gym challenges is that they attract even dumber people than ourselves. There was a woman in the Weights/Hateful Remix class who did everything so profoundly, blasphemously wrong that I was sure that some Ancient Vengeful Fitness God was going to smite her and turn her weight bar into a snake. She’d do duck feet during squats. Instead of lunges she’d do, I swear, the Bus Stop. At first it was a relief to have Wrongy Lady as the lowest common denominator, but it got so you couldn’t even look at her. I refer to her in the past tense because she hasn’t been to class for awhile and we think she got her sweatshirt already (by doing the sixteen classes in like three weeks, which, hello!, is wrong) and is now relaxing at home, eating cereal with forks and reading magazines upside down.

My weight has stayed the same the past two weeks since Thanksgiving. Well, more likely it wildly fluctuated as Mongol hordes of turkey and butter fat swept through my system, but now I’m back to where I was. It could be worse.


  1. says

    So you’re saying that gyms give you free stuff when you exercise now? Good god, where do I sign up!? It’s like book-it for my fatass, but instead of pizza-hut gift certs, I get wearables! Excellent! I was thinking about joining the Y off the paulina stop, but I don’t think they have incentives.

  2. says

    OMG did she say Book-It? Wow I forgot about those days.

    I busted my ass going to spin like 8 times a week just to get a T-shirt that said I had “ridden” 300 miles in like 3 months. Then they did a 1000 mile challenge for a water bottle, but I just couldn’t make it that time. I feel so ashamed.

  3. Sarah says

    The Wrongy Lady in my step class took a tumble while I was looking at her. I was thinking that there was no way she was fit enough to work at the height she was, especially when the instructor had asked us to work with no risers, and down she went. Just as I had the thought. I felt sort of guilty, as if I had been practicing telekenisis. Carrie at the gym class.

  4. says

    omg. i am reading this with my little three-month old happily snoozing in a sling, and i am trying so hard to stifle my laughter so i don’t wake him up. must. control. abdominals.

    this is hilarious! i am crying on the inside at wrongy lady doing the bus top. omg.

  5. says

    I belong to the Y, so we don’t really have incentives like that. I do make them for myself, though. You are right about needing the set amount of time, like OK, I go to pilates every week for two months and I can buy a new sports bra guilt free. I think having the small time increments makes it seem doable rather than this massive expanse of time stringing on into eternity with no real immediate rewards. I like instant gratification (well, more instant than, say, keep working like this and in a year or so you’ll look great!).

  6. mykull says

    sometimes after working out i get a blow job in the steam room. but then i realized i don’t even have to work out to get the free blow job. my gym is so generous!

  7. says

    Damn, I go to the same gym as Mykull and nothing ever happens to me in the men’s steam room except for people throwing their towels at me!

  8. Chor says

    Today I went to check out a gym. The girl giving me the tour was so peppy I swear she must have been filling her nose with coke in the sauna. But anyway, I am trying to decide whether or not to make this commitment. I have joined 2 other gyms in the past and always just… stopped… going. For some reason, I guess I just expected that the money I was paying them would, you know, do the working out for me. Anyway, thanks for the inspiration Wendy. It’s like it isnt even about how working out will change the way you look, in the end, it is the act of treating your body to the movement it fundamentally was built to crave, and we are so separated from that with the way we live.

  9. ginna says

    I once did the Austin Marathon to get a free, cool backpack. Later they were selling them on the website for ten bucks.

  10. Amy F. says

    The sentence “The punching bag isn’t going to be your punching bag anymore!” is giving me big-time Wendy apprecation. Yay Wendy!

  11. says


    I loved your comments. But in my mind’s eye, I saw the little darling punching bag outside the gym…standing there all alone in the pouring rain…looking at the cruel, cruel sign loudly proclaiming his expulsion to the world. He was no longer one of the family. He was on his own. Sniff.
    (Read the rest of the pre-Christmas novel to find out how the little punching bag ultimately finds a loving new home in a small gym in a bad neighbourhood, where people are poor but everybody loves him)

  12. Peggasus says

    Oh, there are so many types at the gym and in the classes, aren’t there?

    The one who used to piss me off the most was this short, overweight, about 60-yr-old woman who thought she was hot stuff in the muscles class (one hour of lots-of-sets lifting combined with multiple slow steps), who wore those little half-glove thingies like she was a pro at it, and insisted on wearing her sports bra with NO SHIRT over it, and some regular pants, so her belly roll was there for all to see.

    And she always wanted to take her place either right in front or to the side of me. And she had horrible form. HORRIBLE.

    But good for maintaining. I think that’s all we can hope for this time of year.

  13. says

    Man, I am totally jealous of the freebies your gym gives away. My all-women gym does have this cool t-shirt of Rosie the Riveter on it, exhorting us all that “We can do it!” But they will only give it to you if you refer two friends. Sorry, I don’t have that many friends that I can afford to lose them by proselytizing about my gym.

  14. Helen Back says

    the missing punching bag reminded me of the surgery my brother just had to stop his snoring. My mother would not stop it until she convinced him he would never get married or have her grandchildren until he got his uvula punching bag thingey in the back of this throat freezeburn or lazered off and stopped his awful snoring. so he did it. Just to shut her up.

    thing is, he’s gay and mom doesn’t know. so no grandchildren. but he says he can really deep throat like nobodys business now!