From Fit to Fat to Fit: Into the bush

Obsession can be a good thing. And I’m not talking about some dumb-ass fragrance.

… continued …

Stuck in the field without a gym for three weeks was going to be tough, but I worked out two ways to stay in shape. First, every time we were in a city with a gym, Lynne got me into the gym, and my field crew usually came along as well. Lynne knew all the gyms and all the people who worked in all the gyms, and generally had the ability to make things happen. This mainly occurred in the city of Kimberly … which actually has a very nice gym … but I also worked out in Pretoria and Stellenbosch.

But that would not be enough. I needed more.

Our field survey required that we have a truck and a trailer. So, I bought a complete dumb-bell set at a store in Pretoria and packed it into the trailer. When I purchased the set, I told the clerk that I did not need the full length bar, just the adjustable dumb-bell bars. He insisted that I take the large bar because I had paid for it. I said I really didn’t want it. He checked with the manager. I had to take it. I said no. He said yes. So I said OK, I’ll take it. Then when I packed up all the stuff I had bought at that store (which included a lot of field gear as well as the weights) I “accidently”left behind the large bar.

I assume it is still there.

Anyway, whenever we’s set up camp somewhere, I’d pull out the weights. Lynne accompanied us to most of our field sites, but was not there all the time, so she rarely used them. Rather, she ran whenever she had the chance. There were, variously, four or five other people with us, but only two Americans, a grad student from The U, and my BFF, Stephanie. They decided they wanted to get buff, so they used the weights as well. So, after a day of survey, we’d come back, have some food and drink, and then get down with the weights out in front of the cabin. We stayed most of the time in a tourist rest camp near the Kalahari. Tourists would walk by and openly stare at us as we took turns lifting, spotting each other, writing down our progress on gridded note paper.

This worked. Before going to South Africa, I did a series of calibration exercises to establish the strength and endurance level of various muscle groups. When I got back from South Africa, I was ahead of where I had left off in all areas. Lenora was impressed.

Funny things happened at the gym in Kimberly. I remember three in particular.

First funny thing: There was a series of machines laid out in a very logical fashion, organized anatomically in the order one may well want to do a set of exercises. Thinking this rather convenient, I did an exercise on the first machine, a leg press of some kind, then moved on to the second machine, a leg lift. While I was using the leg lift, doing a few sets, a woman came over and waited for me to finish. I wasn’t sure why she needed to use this machine because there were other similar machines, but I did not think about it too much. When I fished the machine, she jumped on it like a Texas ranger on his horse.

So I moved on to the next machine, working hamstrings. While I worked, I noticed these funny lights, like traffic lights, up near the ceiling. They’d go from green to yellow then back to green in a cycle for several seconds. As I was wondering what those lights were for, that same woman, was suddenly there waiting for me to finish again. The next machine was calves, but I didn’t like that particular machine so I skipped it and moved on to a bench press kind of machine. I was using that machine when I noticed the woman who had been following me was using the calf machine. I then moved on to a back machine of some kind, as the woman moved to the machine I had just been on. She finished there and came over to me while I was still working my back, and started at me until I was done. Then she took over the back machine as I moved to the next machine, feeling this was all kind of strange, and stared working my abs.

I decided to really hit my abs because this particular bench thingie I was using was working really well. So I did a bunch of reps, rested, and did a bunch more, then adjusted the machine to make it harder, then did a bunch more, and then I was resting again when I noticed the woman was standing next to me, looking down at me, ready to say something.

So I gave hear a look like “Huh?” and she said, “What are you, a moron????” And I was like “Huh?” and she said “Do you not know that this is a circuit?” and I was like “Huh?” and she pointed to the traffic light thingie and gave me a really dirty look.

Suddenly I realized that these machines laid out in this order constituted what is called a “circuit” which is a series of machines laid out in a certain order with a timer attached to a flashing light of some kind. You were to move from one machine to the next as the light flashed. Like a trainer telling you to keep moving and work harder. A dumb robotic trainer attached to the ceiling.

So I looked at the woman and said “Well, that traffic light of yours is certainly no Lenora!” and she was like “Huh?” and I got the hell out of her way.

Oh, I see I have run out of time. I’ll tell you the other two stories next time.

Continued …

Comments

  1. #1 Elaine
    January 13, 2010

    I have not seen one of those circuits in North America, but it seems like a good idea.

  2. #2 Chris
    January 13, 2010

    Very funny. Can’t wait for the other two stories!

  3. #3 mandas
    January 13, 2010

    I keep waiting for the punchline to this story.
    I understand the desire to get in shape etc, but why do you (we) need a gym and a bunch of weights and machines to do it?
    Being in the field is a great way to keep in shape. Lot’s of walking. Lifting equipment. Wrestling with non-cooperative animals. Getting up early. No fast food. If you like, you can even make a game of it and go for a bit of a run around the site instead of walking.
    I even found that translating that to back home was far better than going to the gym – and a lot less expensive!

Current ye@r *