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April 10, 2005

The Spa

Tom McLaughlin

After eating loaves of brown bread, fields of brown rice and stacks of brown English muffins, my weight was not disappearing as planned. My goal, to appear buff and meet 20 somethings on the beach at Ocean City by Memorial Day, seemed very distant.

My home program had failed along with the promises of the Six Second Abs machine purchased from a late night television commercial. I wanted to fall madly in love while building sand castles and then require a vasectomy.

I visited a spa and the receptionist introduced me to the manager. A thin and very muscular lady greeted me. There wasn't an ounce of fat on her and she related to me her age hovered in the lower 60's. I couldn't believe that. She also informed me she needed a disc operation. I started to run - Katy bar the door - but she insisted genetics were responsible. I had my doubts while looking at all the fearful equipment in action just ahead of me.

After signing a one-year contract and a slip for automatic withdrawal, which I will never be able to keep track of, I made an appointment to meet my trainer.

To be fashionable, I visited the outlet malls seeking name brand shorts because my limited wardrobe held khakis used for everyday wear with pockets and belt loops.

I found a pair, on sale, with a mad dog - I think that's the brand - stitched on them. I usually wear the boxer kind of undies so I bought some briefs to keep everything in place. I purchased a t-shirt which sported a picture of a tornado and a trailer park with the caption "Which Came First?"

I viewed with trepidation my decision and bravely marched to meet my perceived torturer. Instead of a gulag slug with steel teeth like the James Bond adversary, I met a slim lady - I came to find out they all are - who asked a series of questions.

Stress? - Yes, I am in the middle of a divorce.

Loose weight? - Yes, and flatten my stomach.

This woman, a poster person for the Republican Party, caused me not to mention my planned seashore escapades. I was afraid she would lock me into one of those apparatus and turn out the lights

I thought these many machines were invented by the Marquis de Sade or his brother - Fitness.

First the trainer selected various contraptions and introduced me to each one. I could not believe my body would contort to the positions she asked, but, after a few a grunts and groans, I wiggled myself into them She manipulated the bars to the proper weight which, for me, was the minimum.

My favorite, the bicycle, was set for zero resistance for 10 minutes. (I have a disease which makes physical activity difficult, but more on that later) I managed to huff and puff my way through the first 120 seconds and then collapsed. She asked me if I had checked with my doctor and I replied yes (no) and pushed my way through the feat in about 20 minutes, stopping and starting along the way.

On my third visit I tried the ab crusher because I wanted a washboard tummy to frolic with my new found ladies. With a lot of effort, I managed to perform eight with a lot of effort. Later, I laughed hysterically at myself as gym bunnies half again my age performed the tasks with over four times the resistance.

They say a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. I am on my way.

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