Bench Press

It was dispassionately humid outside, still the spot was located right under the nose of the efficient air conditioner, the blades of which were pointed downwards, in my direction. So all was cool. Was it? For resilient beads of perspiration had already formed a beeline on my forehead, moments away from turning an avalanche. Agreed, I’m a chronic sweater, but not under a Daikin blowing facewards at 16 degrees.
So what else could this hyper sweating be attributed to- metabolism, nope, given the fact that it had slowed considerably over the past several months. Maybe heat from physical activity, maybe if incessant winking counted as one. So, no.So, why else was I on the verge of becoming a damp-salty bundle in a matter of minutes?
I was seeing a man’s face from that perspective after months, his facing mine from above, a spotless body of a steel rod coming between our viewing parameter. The steel rod had plates on either side, heavy enough to constitute three fourths of my body weight between them. I was lying there on my back to do my bench press, a religious routine from a nearby past. And I was afraid, if I would be able to lift as much I did back then.

I was used to it being an autonomous gig,  never quite liked the assistance of a trainer. For I was not just lifting weights, but my pain threshold with every iteration. And I was not just pumping my chest, but my ego. But today was different, I felt like an insulated shadow of myself and had requested a trainer to oversee. I was nervous of making a clumsy fool of myself. Most of the epiphanies and after thoughts that come to me, have come to me in the gym. Body building to me at some level is a deeply spiritual process and I hadn’t loathed hogging ever more in my life than in that particular moment where I had supervision while peeping into my soul. At that moment, the weight of the plates on either side of the rod wasn’t the only thing I was trying to lift.

Hands stretched upwards, I felt the earmarked creases on the rod with my wet palm, to get a grip. I had instructed the trainer to tune his concern down a tad bit- not assist- and just be a moral support.I weighed in my head and it felt doable. In one effortless heave, I unseated the rod from its hold and there it was, firm and steady in my hands in the sweet spot above my chest. The last time my palm felt this validated, it was making warmth in a smart woman’s hold.

I eked my lift’s tenure for a few more seconds, I was soaking in relief, that my trick hadn’t gone. After all it wasn’t one. I eventually put the rod back, thirty six iterations later.

Sweating from every pore, I stood there before the mirror, flexing my chest exaggeratedly; emphatic by the sight of some protrusions I could finally be proud about. I was back, to being myself. There are things that we do,like changing gears while driving that make subconscious impressions to remain etched in our memory forever, as hard as we try to drift away.  That day in the gym, I figured out that body building to me was like driving.


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