When Pain is Good

My body hurts. All over. Oh, it’s not a debilitating pain, and I’m not sick or injured. No, this is perfectly normal. You see, I joined a gym. And gaining strength comes with a nice side order of pain. So it’s good.

This story goes pretty far back, way back to when I traded working with my body for working with my brain. Even though I was young, the responsiveness and strength of my body, which I’d come to take for granted, had begun to fade. I tried to fight it. I tried exercise, even bought a weight set, but I didn’t have the self-discipline to make it work. Then, a new gym was opening right up the street and they sent around some promotional material. I went in to check it out. I remember being floored by the price tag, but ended up giving in to their hard-sell tactics. One aspect seemed to make sense: the significant cost would push me to work at it, rather than waste it. And it worked.

After about six months my wife joined me – another chunk of change every month – but work at it we did. We gained strength, our bodies changed, we stopped getting colds and stuff, and a whole host of other benefits. Three or four days a week, maybe three or more hours per session, had become our routine. Yeah, there was pain then, too, but we grew accustomed to it, even learned to enjoy it. We did this for years, moving to a better gym when the first one folded.

When Pam was pregnant with Damian she continued to lift – with her doctor’s blessing. “Your body will tell you when to stop,” he said. She continued with the machines and free weights until about two weeks before giving birth. Pretty incredible. (It’s worth noting that she was home from the hospital in less than 24 hours, too – a tribute to the amazing shape she was in.)

With a newborn in the house life was very, very different. Time – for *anything* – was immediately in seriously short supply. Did I mention the sleep deprivation? We tried to keep fitting the workouts in, but it just wasn’t happening. After some months of membership dues essentially thrown away we cut it loose.

In the years that followed I’ve made quite the number of starts at getting strong again. Despite the weights, leg machines and a top ‘o the line StairMaster climber, it simply hasn’t become habit.

So now, more than a decade and a half later, it’s time for a fresh start. I’m please to report getting past the extremely frustrating feeling of being unable to do even ten percent of what was once easy and routine. The every-other-day ritual is becoming normal, and feels damned good. Stuff hurts.

But it’s a good kind of hurt.

2 thoughts on “When Pain is Good”

  1. Bummer! Peanut butter and fluff? You’ve got about five years on me, is that what I have to look forward to?

    I’m pleased to report that we haven’t missed a single session! In fact, we even double-up sometimes, dropping in on an off day to try something new. I’ve gained about four pounds and lost a good inch of waist, and the other changes are all positive. By summer I think I’ll be getting rid of some t-shirts, they might not fit right anymore. No complaints!

    Um, just one maybe-not-so-positive change. The music they play really sucks: one of the satellite feeds that’s particularly bland. So I’ve taken to using a personal player to deliver the thrash-metal that drives me harder. It’s not too bad, getting re-acquainted with my collection of digital music, but to drown out the house stuff I’ve got to crank it pretty loud and that can’t be too good for my hearing. I’m going to try some in-the-canal ear buds to see if I can get some isolation and not ride the volume so hard.

  2. HA! I think somewhere between the ages of 57 and 58 (59 is coming up really, really soon), my composition changed from steel to peanut butter. Maybe including marshmallow fluff. And increasingly more often, pain comes without the gym; Nirvana is probably the transition from “no pain, no gain” to “all pain, no gain.”

    Pass the Advil, 8-Hour Tylenol, Icy Hot Stick (more convenient than Ben-Gay, IMO), and Thera-Beads microwaveable hot packs. Now go ‘way and let me die in peace. :-)

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