There was an interesting study conducted in 2003 at the University of Pennsylvania and the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia where scientists wiped “extracts” from the armpits of male volunteers onto the upper lips of 18 women to see what would happen.
Surprisingly, three women thought it tasted a lot like chicken, and the other 15 found it brightened their mood, reduced tension and increased relaxation. Now, if that’s not a good excuse to hit a coed gym, nothing is! So, turn off the air conditioner, folks, and take a stiff whiff.
After getting into the best shape of my life and taking kung fu classes, I was nearly a lethal weapon (Spouser’s laughing). And then I let myself go and started eating pizza and chocolate again.
Pulling my back out twice in one month, I was ready for a harsh reality check. I decided it was time to get a serious personal fitness trainer.
I had heard there’s no one more serious than Odin, a muscle-bound trainer who has been around awhile. I quickly booked an emergency session.
My first day with Odin, I arrive at the gym early for a 20-minute stretch and warm up. It is raining, and I watch through tinted glass windows as Odin pulls up on his blue chrome Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Soaked to the bone, he grabs his muscle shirt and tears it away from his well-sculpted chest. He shakes off the water like a wolf and runs his fingers through his shoulder-length white hair, tucking it behind his ears.
“It hurts to breathe,” I say, grabbing my chest.
“Are you okay?” the lady on the stair stepper next to me asks. “Should I get a manager?”
“My hyperventilation had nothing to do with exercise,” I assure the friendly gym member and dismount the treadmill. I wait in the office where I am scheduled to meet Odin, a 60-plus-year-old hunk who can easily slip into the shoes of someone half his age.
Dry now, he enters the room, blue eyes sparkling like flint striking steel. “Let’s get your weight and measurements,” he says, in a deep voice that sounds like thunder.
Odin turns to retrieve my fitness chart from the metal filing cabinet. His biceps bulge, and I move in for a closer look, rationalizing that a good whiff might even reduce my tension.
He turns around, nearly knocking me off my feet. “I’m so sorry,” he says, steadying me.
“Absolutely no problem,” I reply.
“Lift your arms, and let’s measure your chest and back,” Odin says, shaking the plastic measuring tape until it unrolls to the ground.
“Can you pinch me while you’re there?” I ask, not meaning to speak aloud. I’m pretty sure this is a dream, and I’m hoping the cats don’t wake me.
“Pinch you?” Odin mutters, pencil clenched tightly between his gleaming white teeth.
“Never mind,” I reply, turning to the side so he can measure my hips.
Finished with the assessment, Odin and I talk about general health issues, vitamins, diet and routine. “And this will clean your colon,” he continues, pushing a handwritten list of items toward me. “I suggest you buy these before our next meeting.”
Hey, if the man tells me to eat my gym shoes, I’ll start with the laces and slurp ‘em up like spaghetti.
Halfway through the hour, my energy begins to give out. It dawns on me that these personal training sessions might be more challenging than I thought. I mean, this man is used to bench pressing 500 pounds on an easy day. What kind of workout will I have to endure?
Odin pushes me through another set of leg extensions. The burning begins to feel like I’m going to experience spontaneous human combustion. It is time to switch gears and rely on a little help from Miss Imagination, so I conjure up a bit of mental motivation.
With a spark of neurons, I instantly transform from Gina the Feeble into the formidable Xena the Warrior, wearing a black breastplate and wielding a sword. Odin becomes his namesake — the Norse god of war, art, wisdom and (hopefully not in my case) death.
Together, we are on a quest to finish my sets and (in my mind) retrieve the Golden Fleece.
“Ten more,” Odin says. “You can do this!”
“Don’t worry, we’ll reclaim the throne,” I huff, panting like a puppy.
“What?” he asks, checking my pulse.
“Never mind,” I reply. Soon he’ll realize he’s training an unconventional gal who may not have large muscles (yet), but who’s huge in the fantasy department.
“Workout hard?” the girl at the front counter asks, noticing my legs trembling as I walk toward the door.
“Let’s just say we saved the Golden Fleece and saved Odin’s kingdom,” I reply, pausing to catch my breath.
The man behind me rushes through the door, dropping his wet towel on the floor. To be courteous, I pick it up for him, cramming my nose into it for a quick sniff before handing it back. “Thanks,” the man says, looking at me strangely.
“No problem,” I say.
I’ve never been one to pass up a free fringe benefit.