Thursday, June 19, 2008

Portrait #21: Woman who needs to lose weight

So I have joined a gym in Damascus. Today was the first day I had a real proper run and boy did it feel good. It's taken me two weeks to find a gym, largely because I couldn't find anywhere that offered a real treadmill for my use.

Everywhere I went, I explained that I was looking for a place to run, and they would reply by saying that the first thing I'd have to do was meet with their trainer or, in some cases, with the doctor, to determine an exercise regime. Or they'd reply by asking, "What is it that you want to change about yourself?"

So I'd reply by saying I'm really happy with my exercise regime and just want to use the machines to run. So they'd clarify, do I want "Mashee"? That means "walking" in Arabic. I'd say, no, I want "Rakad", running. They'd just kind of ignore that and show me to some extremely ancient machine that didn't look like it would hold my weight. Or more likely to a manually operated contraption that would probably make for a good walk but could never keep up with a jog. In one case, I was told that the doctor who owns the gym says has determined that walking is better than running, and in another case I was told by the gym manager that he limits treadmill use to 15 minutes because he "bought the machine for its preservation."

I was thus overjoyed to finally find a gym that had not only one, but two, fully electronic, buff-looking treadmills at my disposal, so I signed up. When I went for my first session, though, I learned that one machine doesn't work at all, and the other one was randomly stopping and resetting every couple of minutes, each time contributing an electric shock to my physical workout. Upon seeing my frustration, they promised to get it looked at, and so today I went and was able to jog a full 20 minutes without being zapped.

As I ran, I observed the other women in the gym. Many were doing aerobics, but there was one rather heavyset woman who didn't seem able to keep up with the aerobics, so the trainer assigned her to the bicycle. When I was wrapping up my jog, I saw her discussing with the trainer the possibility of using the treadmill. The trainer said that the treadmill was too hard for her, but she protested that she walks at home. In the end the trainer won, and the woman was sent to do some lightweight weight lifting.

I ran across her and the trainer again in the weights room. She was explaining to the trainer that she has diabetes and is tired of her large size. She is really eager to do something about this. From this I gathered that this was one of her first sessions. I recalled hearing several similar conversations in Middle Eastern gyms and wondered how long this woman would really stick with her program, and whether she really would manage to make a dent in the diabetes and weight problems if she wasn't even allowed to walk. Then again, though, they thought walking would already be quite a workout for me!

1 comment:

femalehealth said...

Congratulations on your effort to start a healthy lifestyle with a good run :)

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