That’s so Sweat of You

After a two week self-induced state of bed-rest I finally decided to venture to the gym on Monday. I know they missed me there based on the signs they crafted by hand and the thunderous applause that roared around the room as I entered.  I hadn’t been to the gym in over a month due to my Carmen San Diego-esque travels as of late. That, plus the time I spent laying in my bed wanting to cry of boredom, lead to a lengthy hiatus from my workout routine. I knew to take it slow so as not to throw myself right back into an injury zone. I mostly sat on the stationary bike and threw around a couple of dumbbells. Tuesday had the same agenda, although this time I hit up the gym in Horgen as I’m allowed to have my way with the eleven different locations scattered around Zürich. I pushed the pedals on the bike a bit, laid on the ground and engaged my abs, and finished my sad little routine with a visit to a few circuit training machines.

Here I am, sitting on an instrument designed to give me Hulk-like quads and the kind lady from the front desk approaches me. “Germangermangerman?” she asks, following the question with a surprisingly genuine smile. “Um, sprechen Sie englisch?” I reply, all American-like. “Ah, yes. Do you have a towel? For the seat? With the sweat?” WHAT?! I’m not even sweating! That was the whole point, not to exert myself to minimize injury. “Entschuldigung. Tut mir leid. Ich habe nicht towel.” Excuse me. I’m sorry. I don’t have a towel (yes, apparently I still couldn’t figure out the German word for towel). She smiles and says no problem as she scampers back to the desk to get me my own towel, with which I can cover the seat. I graciously accept my new accessory and continue to buff up. When she turned her back I couldn’t help but furrow my brow in puzzlement. An emoticon to describe my feelings would be: confused, insulted, and feeling like this woman doesn’t know what she’s talking about face. Maybe a bead or two of sweat escaped, but honestly, this is nothing compared to what I am capable of. Kind of reminds me of another time at the gym…

It was c-r-a-z-y hot, this day, and I couldn’t stand the thought of putting on a t-shirt to hit the gym (which doesn’t have air conditioning thankyouverymuch). I have seen other women doin’ their thang with just a tank top on, so I thought, Be bold. Join the other women who shun the t-shirt rule. Picture me, fresh from the eliptical, lifting weights and sculpting my guns. I’m thinking to myself, Look at me breaking the rules. Good thing no one cares I’m a wild sweat monster and am sweating all over the place. Just as the words begin floating around my brain I see an employee headed my way, t-shirt clutched in his fist. With daggers in his eye and a smile that looks like it’s physically hurting him, he asks me to put a shirt on. Apparently, I was exposing too much flesh (Too Hot for TV!) and purposefully rubbing my sweat on all the machines. I donned the men’s large t-shirt and turned back to my biznass that was the dumbbells. I glance in the mirror and check a view of my front side. The shirt reads “Top of the World,” on which was the last place I was feeling. I had just been humiliated in front of all my cool, popular, chic, and dry Swiss friends. I promise I’m not a (total) weirdo, I just have a high metabolism! From now on I’m thinking about just wearing a terry cloth robe to workout and saving all of us the trouble.

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Sweat it Out

I can say this with almost complete confidence: The Swiss Do Not sweat. It’s almost as if they are programmed to be unable to do anything that would look embarrassing or unsightly. I, on the other hand, have been wired to make up for all the sweating the Swiss don’t do. I’m not sure why, but it’ always been like this. One day last fall when I was working with a personal trainer he said, “Alright! Look at that sweat, you must really be working hard!” It was probably 5 minutes into our session. I told him that, unfortunately, I always sweat a decent amount when I’m working out. He said that the sooner one starts sweating the faster one’s metabolism is. Wahoo! I’ll take it. He was actually a great trainer as he was previously in the Army and liked to use his drill sergeant training to kick my butt during our times together. Unfortunately, he also referred to said butt as my “booty” and I don’t know if I hate a word more than that one. He had to go.

The Mom and I worked out a deal prior to my arrival that would arrange for me to have a gym membership for the year in exchange for ONE night of free babysitting a month. In the end, this means I am missing out on about 700 Fr. but I’m still grateful for the deal. I enjoy going to the gym for several reasons, a main one being it’s a great way to get out of the house without costing money. Upon arriving at my first appointment with ActivFitness I noticed a sign that displayed the proper attire for gym-goers. It simply stated that all shirts must have sleeves and pants must fall below the knees. Ok, the gym I just came from allowed women to wear hot shorts and sports bras only (not that I actually wore this), so this was quite a deviation. Generally, I like to wear shorts and a tank top whilst getting my fitness on. These restrictions are a little frustrating. It’s just too much clothing. Cut back to my first meeting, after my consultation with a staff member was finished and he had concluded showing me how to use all the equipment he gently asked me to “please bring a towel next time” and gave me a sheepish smile. Ouch. I looked around and noticed that yes, all the other patrons had towels. Why? I’m not sure; no one was sweating. I think it was just a prop, like, “Hey, if for some freak-of-nature-reason we decide to sweat one single drop at least we’ll have these beach towels!” Now I always try to bring a hand towel to use.

I am convinced that everyone at my gym knows that I am American. There are two reasons for this: the English writing on all my t-shirts and the fact that I sweat. Because of this I enjoy taking my running outside. I often meet friends, particularly Danielle, down by the lake to run in the afternoons. This still doesn’t completely solve my problem of looking like an outsider. I’ve seen a passerby or two give me the stank eye. For instance, on Tuesday Danielle and I went running. It was chillier up here on the hill than by the lake so I ended up wearing clothing that was too warm, namely a long underwear shirt and a jacket I used to wear under my coat for skiing. I know, not sure what I was thinking when I got dressed. Basically, I felt like a wrestler trying to sweat out extra water weight in order to make it in my weight class. Embarrassing. I’m not exactly sure why all this is relevant other than the fact I find it comical. I remember once when I was still living in ADPi and rooming with Madison, Kasey, and Kara I came home from the Rec in an especially ferocious state. Madison says, “Oh man, is it really raining outside?” “No, but apparently I just made it rain at the gym!! But seriously, the weather is fine.” It must be the way I am built, but I am not alone. My sister, Courtney is the same way. Speaking of…

Courtney just made it safely to Africa! I’m not totally sure what she is up to there but she will be in Kenya for a couple weeks working on projects that are in no doubt much needed. I’m so impressed with her go-get-it attitude and desire to help others. Whenever you read this, Courtney, give yourself a hug ’cause you rule!

Courtney & I

Don’t you just love those cans in the background? Classy.

The Hills Are Alive…

…with the sound of my labored breathing. Seriously. I feel like lately I have been huffing and puffing my way around the city. My pedometer is racking up some serious mileage (kilometerage?). This weekend is a perfect example. It finally warmed up around here and I almost don’t recognize the city. The Swiss have  come out of hibernation and are traipsing around like they own the place. Saturday was filled with plenty of aimless wandering, as Jill’s friend was in from Milan and we were giving her a tour of Zurich. The day happened to be my “anniversary” of arriving here. That’s right, it’s been 3 months and they a have flown by faster than any I can remember. I try to treat myself to something on these joyous occasions and this day was no exception. I truly indulged and awarded myself with a Diet Doctor Pepper, which cost me a cool CHF 3.50. Yes, you are correct, that translates roughly into $3.50, which is hands-down the most ludicrous amount of money I have paid for a pop, but let me tell you it was absolutely worth it. Seeing as DDP is my all-time favorite I thought it was a worthy treat, if not ridiculously over-priced.

Yesterday, however was the real gem of my exercise. If I had a dollar for every time someone made a reference to me either becoming Mary Poppins or living in my own “Sound of Music” I could actually afford to live here. Sunday Jill, Gabri, and I decided to hike up Üetliberg and see the city from a bird’s eye view. One can either hike up or take a train, and being an thrill-seeking trio we decided to gear-up and walk the trails. I had some sense and wore Converse shoes, but Jill was in her Topsiders and Gabri in moccasins, so one could say we weren’t necessarily dressed the part. That didn’t stop us, however. Without actually realizing it, we took the path, out of several, that was the most steep and heavily wooded. About 200 meters up the climb I peeled off my cardigan and the elusive sweatstache was making its appearance. I feel like I am equally justifying my physical fitness and and dispelling it through my writings. The hike wasn’t the hardest thing I have ever done, rather I just didn’t mentally prepare myself. About halfway up when we were all re-evaluating not only our decision to come on this journey, but also our friendships, Jill, with her identical twin, Positivity, began to sing “Climb Every Mountain.” I had to grab onto a railing for support as I was laughing so hard. It was exactly what I needed to hear. The remaining trek passed in alternating fits of side-splitting laughter and animal-like grunting. Finally, a little over an hour after take-off we reached the summit. We were quite the group as we approached the other patrons at the lookout site. Thankfully my white tank top hid the “make it rain” effect my sweat glands tend to have. I’m almost positive people could smell us before they saw us, and if not, they would notice the big black cloud of bugs that had somehow become our climbing companions. We were a full-on nasal assault. I’ll spare you the rest of the details, but one can assume it was not my finest moment. The view was great though, and definitely worth it, as was the celebratory beer. It was on the list that sits on my desk of things I want to accomplish whilst I’m in der Schweiz so I am very proud of myself.

On an equally exciting note, I booked more travel today! I will be in Manchester and Cambridge June 4-8 to go to a couple of concerts: John Mayer and Band of Horses. I know what you’re thinking, “Going to John Mayer, what a sell-out.” But, this is not true as I am not 14 years old with an irrational crush on his brooding, self-deprecating, and semi-obnoxious persona. I just happen to like his music. And Band of Horses is amazing and I have wanted to see them live for a while, and what better opportunity than abroad. Looking forward to a weekend full of melodious sounds.