In my free time I go to the gym, because, honestly, there isn’t much else to do. I lift weights with my First Sergeant just before lunch. We go in uniform and take off the cap, gun, and ACU top shirt to work out in our t-shirts, pants, and trousers – just like 75% of the other troops in the gym. Like anything that you stick with over time, it gets easier. It gets easier because I am getting stronger. But I have never been much of a “body builder.” I have always been a runner.
When I’m lucky I get in a good cardio workout at least three to four times per week. I bring the iPod that Lisa gave me, grab water from the fridge and head to a treadmill. Although I am an outdoor runner and loathe running in place, the weather and road conditions really prohibit running outside. Over the months I have found the set of music that as I get ready, pipes through my ear buds and carries me through the next 40 minutes.
I warm up and stretch out to Queen’s, Fat Bottom Girls, for no particular reason. For a longer stretch I add Metallica’s, I Disappear, before mounting the machine. I don’t particularly believe the pace the machine says I am running but it’s all I have to report on.
I start off at a 7.5mph pace to The Red Hot Chili Pepper’s, Dani California. I never got too into the group, but I loved this video. That gets the blood going for the first half mile. I turn up the pace to 8.5mph for AC/DC’s, Highway to Hell, and then right into, Thunderstruck. By now I am sweating. When The Doors, LA Woman, starts the tempo brings me to an 8.7mph pace that lets me keep in time with the beat. By now I am at least two thirds done with my run. I dial up to 9.1mph and instantly feel more sweat run down my forehead, off my eyelashes, into my ears. Depending on how I am feeling I finish with a little GnR, Welcome to the Jungle, and briefly imagine Lisa on Guitar Hero, or back to Metallica with either, Whisky in a Jar, or, Fuel.
My run's over and it’s time for the rowing machine. I added rowing about two months ago to include upper body movement to the cardio work out. By now my t-shirt is wet and I am slick with perspiration. I row to more AC/DC – Shoot to Thrill and Have a Drink on Me. The Back in Black album is one of my top ten, must-have-in-my collection. I have been able to cover 2 kilometers in the time it take to play both songs; a little under ten minutes. I am getting fast enough that I’ll add another song and another kilometer this week.
Now it gets tough. Now I am soaked through my shirt. If I were any other gym people might stare by now. Here I am just another person with a tough workout to get through and I am about three quarters done. I go to the decline sit-up bench set at a forty-five degree angle. I take a twelve pound medicine ball and hold onto it as Van Halen’s, Panama, starts. I take the ball and hold it over my head and sit back until I am lying on the bench and the ball touches the ground. Then I sit up. Sometimes I throw the ball in the air, catch it, and do a sit up. Sometimes I turn from side to side holding the ball. Sometimes I just hold it into my chest and do sit ups. Whatever I do, I do it for the whole song without stopping. Panama is three minutes and thirty one seconds long.
I get off the bench and go to the mat. The Black Eyed Peas, Pump It, starts and I finish my abs with crunches, leg lifts, scissor kicks, bicycles, and the like for the entire song. But at least I am now near the finish line.
I go to the pull up bar and turn on Aerosmith’s, Honkin’ on Bobo album. The band put out this blues-cover- tribute-sounding album a few years ago and it can really get me going. As, Road Runner, starts and continues into, Shame, Shame, Shame, I complete a set of two pushups for one pull up for five to six sets. I am up to seven pull ups. Seven times five is thirty-five. Fourteen times five is seventy. Sweat pools below me now. Still on the Bobo album I finish the workout with, Baby Please Don’t Go, with four or five sets of weighted abs.
And that’s it. Maybe a little Neal Young, Keep On Rocking in the Free World, as I head back to the office as wet as if I’d showered with my clothes on. There are times I leave the gym nauseous. I finish my daily report and go shower before dinner.
Most times the music is white noise to take my attention away from the other sounds in the gym. I can tune out the white noise and think. Othertimes the music carries me and pushes me when I would rather slow down or hit the stop button. However, I doubt I can hear any of those songs again without thinking about the treadmill, or the decline bench, or the hours I spent getting in the best shape of my life.