Thursday, December 11, 2008

Mishap at the Gym

Last night, I had a very traumatic mishap at the gym. Only now am I able to write about it and laugh. Last night, I was not laughing.

To start off, the good news is...I'm running again. For those of you who knew me in a former life before I became a perpetually-stressed teacher, I used to be somewhat of a runner. In college, I ran 4-6 miles every weekday and often more than that on weekends. I ran six half marathons and seriously considered going for the full marathon...but then I became a teacher. In my first year of teaching, I had 207 students, I didn't know what in the heck I was doing, and I basically spent 20 hours a day planning lessons and grading papers. Surviving became my top priority-- certainly not running. I was lucky to get an hour-long night's sleep, let alone an hour-long run. Well, that's an exaggeration. I usually got at least 3-4 hours of sleep. Needless to say, that year, I stopped running all together.

Over the last couple of years, teaching has gotten a little easier, but somehow I haven't been able to convince myself to start running again. Oh, I've gone through spurts when I'd run for a week or two...but my heart wasn't in it.

Well, folks, I've recommitted myself, and I am proud to say that most nights these days, you will find me at the UB Gym pounding the treadmill or the elliptical machine, trying to get back in shape. I hope my determination to keep it up lasts longer than a few weeks.

After last night, I'm not sure it will...

When I got to the gym, I was very disappointed to see that all of the machines in the Cardio Room were in use. The Cardio Room is where the girls and the wimpy guys hang out, and this is where I am comfortable. The only other treadmills are in...the dreaded Weight Room.

The Weight Room is where all the buff bodybuilder dudes hang out, and, before last night, I had never stepped a toe in there. But since I was in a hurry and couldn't wait for a machine in the Cardio Room, I nervously approached the off-limits Weight Room. With much trepedation, I crept inside, trying not to be noticed. I looked around for a sign I thought for sure would be on the wall: "No Girls Allowed." (Or more appropriately, "No Weakling White Girls Allowed.")

Of course, no one in there was on the treadmills...they were benching 300 I quickly found a machine and sheepishly started jogging at my very moderate pace. Feeling sure that everyone was watching me and rolling their eyes, I increased the speed a little. After about 15 minutes, I started to feel really tired and hot. What's wrong with me? I wondered. Why am I such a wimp??

That's the last thing I remember--at least while standing on two feet.

Suddenly, I was flat on my back on top of a rack of weights about six feet away from the treadmill. My body tumbled off the rack and onto the floor. I had not fallen off the treadmill...oh no no...I had flown off the treadmill.

You can imagine the reactions: Everyone in the entire place--every single bodybuilding meathead--froze mid-lift and stared. No one ran over to help me--it's like they didn't know what to do.

Jumping to my feet, I started exclaiming, "I'm okay! I'm okay!" and dashed back to my treadmill. Not a soul moved. They just kept staring. Turning towards the wall, so I wouldn't have to face any of them, I pretended to start know, just a little post-exercise, non-chalant strech, right? Well, no one was buying it. They continued staring, as I not-so-convincingly played it cool and finished my stretches. Too bad my treadmill was still running beside me. That didn't add to my "cool" facade.

Realizing that I was going to have to turn around and make my graceful exit eventually, I finally grabbed my sweatshirt and made a bee-line for the door. I swear to you, no one had moved a muscle or said a word. They were still staring at me--completely frozen in shock.

Trying to make a joke out of myself, as I walked by a big black guy near the door, I said, "Well, I guess that's my clue to call it a night!" He didn't respond. He sat there open-mouthed as I turned and ran out.

As soon as I was out of the Weight Room, I was sobbing. I wasn't hurt; I was just so so so mortified. You know that feeling? When you're so embarrassed that you just start to cry?? I immediately called Ryan and blubbered, "Ryan, something r-r-really bad just happened!"

Of course, he thought I'd been attacked or something, so he asked in a panic, "What's going on?!"

"I f-f-fell off the treadmill!! Sob sob sob."

Thankfully, I have a very sweet and understanding husband who was willing to drive me to teach my Seminary Bible Study class at the church (I was going straight from the gym) and listen to me bawling about how, "I can't do anything right! Not even run on a treadmill!!"

I know my reaction was overly dramatic and emotional, but sometimes when things like this happen to me, it's an outlet for all the other frustrations I've been holding in. I was initially crying because I was embarrassed by my impromptu stunt woman act at the gym, but it then turned into, "I'm a terrible Seminary teacher...I'm exhausted...School is so hard...I miss my mom at Christmastime...Why don't I do more to achieve my goals??" and the list went on and on.

By the time I got to Seminary, I was a wreck. I changed out of my sweaty work out clothes in the bathroom, put on some new mascara, and somehow held it together to teach about Angels for 45 minutes.

I still don't know what happened at the gym. What caused me to go flying off the treadmill? I didn't trip--I know that much. I think I either blacked out or fell asleep. Option #1 is possible because I hadn't eaten much throughout the day, but Option #2 is possible as well because I am quite sleep deprived and fall asleep in unbelievable places.

Needless to say, I ate a big dinner before going to the gym tonight. And I avoided the Weight fact, I don't think I'll ever be able to go in there again.

I told my students the story today, and they thought it was hilarious. Their favorite part was that I pretended to non-chalantly stretch afterwards. One of them said that I better watch out; from now on when people spot me at the gym, they will point and laugh and say, "There's the girl who flew off the treadmill!!"  

Let's hope that never happens, or my new-found dedication to running might swiftly and decisively END.


  1. Rachel! This is the craziest work out story I have ever heard!!! I can't imagine what those guys must have been thinking (or perhaps not thinking, and just sitting there with their jaws dropped). I am glad you have started running again, just because I know how happy it makes you - but be careful, and maybe wear a helmet tomorrow.

  2. See, I knew it was a good idea for me to stay away from exercise. It IS bad for you! :) I'm glad you survived it, though, even if it carried scars of mortification.

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  4. Rachel,
    I knew something wasn't right when I saw you Wednesday night. I'm sorry I didn't do more. You're amazing. I hope you know that.
    ~Nat g.

  5. p.s. I have a similar story about sliding down the banisters at BYU. I didn't take into account my heavy backpack that caused me to fall off backwards. Nobody asked me if I was okay or helped me up. Everybody just stared with their jaws hanging open. There was also the time that I was riding my bike and biffed it in front of a whole group of people or when I dropped the eggs in the grocery store or when I was playing soccer with a ward on my mission and ripped my skirt or when I dropped hot red sauce on my white blouse before meeting some new investigators. . . maybe I'll stop there. If you ever need to feel graceful, let me know. I'll tell you one of my stories.
    Love ya!

  6. Rachel,
    I love your stories!! That is so funny, but sad/embarassing for you, but really so funny to read. Congrats on starting to run again, that is something I aspire to do. I love that Ryan drove you to the church and listened to your sob story the whole way. I'm pretty sure Ezra would have just laughed at me.

  7. That was the best story I have read in a long long time! I am so glad you shared it! LOL Love that you just pretended to stretch after it and I love the comment you made as you were leaving. BTW, I am absolutely certain that you are WONDERFUL at all of the things you listed that you think you are not good at!

  8. That is the funniest thing I have heard in a long time!! As soon as I read your post, I had to call Kelly. The SAME thing happened to her last year in the PACKED BYU gym except her treadmill just stopped cold . . . while she was running full speed on it!!! She faceplanted. Why do things like that only happened to you people?

  9. I am speechless. I'm sure it wasn't funny at the time, but this is hilarious to read. And you left the treadmill running while you "stretched"?? You are truly "sui generis" - look it up; it's a latin term that lawyers use sometimes.

    You make me smile for many reasons. I love you. Try to stay upright.


  10. Rachel, you make me laugh. I did the same thing one time, except I was running outside. I tripped on the sidewalk right before I was going to cross the road so of course all the cars on the road driving past me saw it. One guy even stopped his car to see if I was alright, but I just got up and kept running. I was too embarrassed to make eye contact. It wasn't until about a minute later that I realized I was in a lot of pain. But I was so mortified I forced myself to make it home. Now, whenever I think about that story of mine, I can't help but laugh. If I can keep on running after that, so can you. :)

  11. Thanks for letting us all have high quality entertainment from your crazy moments...
    When you have small children you can blame all of your embarassing moments on trying to keep track of them--it's probably not true, though. I'm sure even without my kids I would still be losing my mind. :)
    I know what you mean about the breakdown being the combination of that and all your other frustrations. I cried the other day because I spent $15 at a store, (which I hemmed and hawwed about whether I should spend and finally decided to--on presents for my family) and then didn't get home with the bag and the store said they didnt' have it. Suddenly, it was everything I was stressed about in my whole life combining to make me cry about 15 dollars. Don't you love being a girl sometimes?

  12. Wow... that was captivating. I always wondered what it would be like if something like that happened at the gym. I am glad to hear that you are okay and I am even more happy to hear that you are running again. I am running more than ever and it is the best! I miss you and Ryan and wish you were closer! Good luck with the teaching. At least I can say... I understand! love ya! :)


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