Last Thursday I had another of my training sessions with the infinitely patient Jason. What I’ve enjoyed most about our work-outs is that he constantly changes it up. Yes, I’m learning and perfecting certain exercises, but the variation never keeps it from feeling repetitious. I had no idea just how all-encompassing Jason’s plan for me had become until last week.
After my five minute warm-up run on the treadmill, I walked over to where Jason was waiting for me. He tossed two giant red oven mitts at me. I caught them, which in and of itself is proof that he’s a miracle worker. “Put ’em on,” he said. I looked down at my hands to see just what it was I was holding. Boxing gloves.
“Surely you jest,” I said.
Jason just shook his head and put on his pads.
Over the course of the next hour, I did my best to hurt Jason’s hands and not my own in between dead lifts and shoulder presses. Now, I can’t throw a punch to save myself. I’ve been in one fight in my life, and it was during my second summer at sleep-away camp. I recall simply holding the other kid down until he realized that there was no way he could move if I, rather large for a fellow 12 year old, didn’t get off of him. So not only was I surprised by how weak my hooks and jabs were, but also by how much balance goes into properly throwing a punch. When I remarked as much to Jason, all he said was, “That’s why we’re doing it.”
As I found my footing with the boxing–literally–Jason got a bit adventurous on me. My favorite bit of instruction was this: “Okay,” he said, “This time I want you to jab with your left, then cross with your right, and then duck, because I’m going to swing at you.” I took a step back before laughing. He just put his hands up and waited for me to compose myself. I’m pleased to report that I evaded each and every one of his swings.
Naturally, an excursion this rich in story-telling potential wasn’t going to cease yielding narrative treasure once Jason and I parted ways. No, no, no. Following his orders, I spent a few minutes after our session in the steam room. I was alone, until another patron joined me…with a plastic spray bottle in tow. Initially, I rolled my eyes. Oh, come on, I was thinking. This guy’s so much of a man he needs to spray water on the steamer to make it even more potentially suffocating in here? As I was composing an Honestly of the Week with this guy’s name on it in my head, he spoke.
“Excuse me,” he said, in an unrecognizable accent. “Do you mind if I spray some eucalyptus?”
My mind said, “Whaaaaaaaaaaat?”. My mouth said, “Uh…no. Go ahead.” He thanked me and fired off a few spritzes into the vent. Immediately, the steam went off and the entire room quickly filled with the stench of koala ass. I didn’t know whether to gag or laugh.
When the steamer finally closed off for a moment, I managed to speak. “So, does this have any medicinal qualities or is it just some kind of marinade?” The honorary marsupial to my left thought that was pretty funny, and happily explained the benefits to steaming yourself with the Aussie extract. Something about clearing out the toxins in your body. Funny, because if you’ve ever encountered koalas, they always seem kind of doped up.
As the smell of the Blue Mountains started dissipating, the De-Toxic Avenger and I got to talking. Turns out his name was Stefan and he was originally from Bulgaria. So, yes, if I ever ran into him when I was out with other people, I could introduce him by saying, “This is my friend, Stefan. We met in the steam room,” and it wouldn’t be the least bit inappropriate.
If you were looking for a moral to this story, that’s as close as you’re getting.
I’ve got one more amusing gym story to share, but I may not post it until next week. I still have a lot of other adventures to catch you up on first.