mas•och•ism – n. 1 form of perversion involving one’s own pain or humiliation. 2 colloq. Enjoyment of what appears to be painful or tiresome.

Next time you’re at the gym, do me a favor, glance around and watch people’s faces while they’re in the midst of their “sets”. Show me one person that seems to be enjoying themselves.

Wait, I take it back, some people actually may be having fun… Most women at the gym look like they are on a field trip, come to think of it, catching butterflies in their nets while whistling “la-lee-lee-lee-la” and hopping across a flower-bedded meadow. Life is light, joyful, oh so easy, and the sun always shines.

The men, however, are in hell. Painted all over their faces are expressions of pain, disbelief, repugnance, and most commonly – ANGER. Yes, anger. As they pull, lift and push, each man’s composure slowly dissolves under a thin layer of glistening sweat. With every jerk of his body the mouth wiggles uncertain, the tongue shyly takes a peek outside only to get instantly ambushed and captured by a pair of meaty lips, the rosy cheeks take an elevator all the way up under the squinting eyes, and the forehead collapses like an accordion. And it’s not silent body language, oh, no! There’s the sighing and the growling, the teeth grinding and spontaneous whistling. Then comes that ONE DEEP BREATH, and with it the arms – bearing a 250 lb load – catapult into the thin air. Inevitably, a deep dark and devastating roar abruptly tears the silence of the heavily air-conditioned fitness temple. That’s ANGER!!!

I can relate.

Three weeks into my new routine of exercising my “six-pack” under Jason’s supervision and at his command, I find myself lying on a mat in between his spread legs, holding onto his ankles, staring at his crotch, and facing a series of excruciating crunches and kicks into the air, followed by holding my legs against the laws of gravity and folding my chest into a saucer. I panic.

Many a time has a thought crossed my mind to run away, to simply leave the gym without a word and camp by our car in the steaming-hot underground parking garage, awaiting Jason’s arrival, who would eventually figure out I’m no where to be found and descend to get his automobile. Usually it hits me right before heading to the mats to see my honey-poo–slash-personal trainer. But the second the thought finishes its run across my head I am so embarrassed that I turn around obediently and scuff my sneakers working my way to the dreaded AB LABORATORY.

–       Are we done yet? – I moan a question half way through the first set. And one set, mind you, consists of 4 different tummy exercises, and each exercise, mind you, consists of 15 to 30 repetitions. You do the math.

–       With the first set… soon. – Jason replies stoically.

–       I have the best view in the world! – I shout in a whispery manner and flirtatiously wave my eyebrows while looking straight at his crotch, trying out a new diversion technique.


–       Great. Give me another 15 of those – Jason is unmoved by the compliment and urges me to keep throwing my legs up, so he can push them back down while I, with my whole abdominal might, keep them from reaching the floor.

–       It’s been three weeks! When will the pain stop?? – I hear myself crying out loud, and hope for some compassion if not from Jason, then from my fellow masochists on the mats.

–       Never – Did I just hear him say “NEVER”??!! – Once you get stronger we’ll switch to a more challenging exercise routine.

I realize I’m starting to boil up in fury. I can’t believe I ever asked him for this little “favor” to help me get back in shape! I want to be done with this stupid work out!

Jason manages to keep his face straight, and steps on my feet while I power-push through another set of crunches. I swear, all I feel is PAIN ripping my insights apart.  Anger becomes the ONLY driving force.  The sad howl of a deadly hurt, savage animal resonates in my head. Jason squeezes two more full sets out of my wrenched and abused body. When we’re finally finished, he smiles warmly at my sour face:

–       The good part is that it only hurts while you’re doing it. The minute you’re done, it’s all gone. Why are you still pouting? There’s no more pain.

–       The memory of it still hurts though, boo-hoo – says me.

An elevator ride and two sets of escalators later I recover my reason and other senses enough to mumble “thank you” and blow Jason a kiss just as we reach our car.

–       I am very proud of you – He acknowledges. – You did it!

Yes! I fooking did it… for the fifth time this week! That is worthy a reward, I decide, and treat myself to a rich and oozing with chocolate brownie. Uhm… Life is good again.