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I’m not one of those guys who do things for people to see I like concealing myself from the glare of everyone, it makes me feel safe. I hate attention, I don’t like people concentrating on me so much, and it makes me feel special, too special. Yes, I have an ego that when massaged may bring out the unannounced. That’s why I keep it simple, short shaved hair, clean trimmed beards, and a smile that I wear occasionally, I can’t wear it all the time, it has had a number of casualties in the past. I know a few women who have gone weak on their knees claiming that my smile is bewitching, that when I throw a sweet gaze at them they go shy and a warm feeling always rush into their bodies, I don’t know where the warm feeling ends but I guess if it started from the eyes up there, it must find a home somewhere downstream. So I’m generous, I know I’m a happiness doctor offering Smilotherapy at no cost that can make a woman release herself of the burden she carries.
So I’m on Facebook, I’m trying to stride through statuses of some of the beautiful women I have in my friend list, most of them are Selfimaniacs but some find some few topics that can attract the attention of men. Trust me, men can be manipulative but women are bad news. Their topics are hooot, not hot that attracts attention but those that make men salute in their boxers…. Or does this just happen to me? Maybe it’s my circle of friends, but trust me, 90 percent of stretch marks on men’s boxers come from Social media, we can’t help it. But there’s this topic that I hate. Whoever told these women about 6 pack! Six silly packs! I got two, and I’m happy, but we are not happy. My woman wants me to go to the gym and add the remaining four. I think she is nuts because I’ve watched the process of getting these useless cubes on Youtube, it’s not that easy.
Well, let’s say that of late I’ve been adding weight not because I’m lazing around sleeping, but thank God I’ve been eating well and jogging less. My snickers have caught some dust since I quit my morning run in Tena estate. The thugs of this neighbourhood were not so cosy with me the last time I did my run, they had strangled me around 6 am leaving me farting uncontrollably. I think that thin guy who was on my neck might have exerted too much pressure towards the abdomen leaving me with a load of gases and curses to release. They made it away with my headphones which I had plugged in my trousers. What did you expect? Me to jog in the morning with my phone in my pocket? No way, this is Eastlando, I know the rules. So I’m caught between maintaining the body that I love and getting to the gym to please this woman. Whatever. I call Vickens.
I know he has been going to the gym lately; he must be having information of a good place. Vickens’ takes all the time in the world to pick my call. The callback tune is the speech of Obama at Kasarani, thanks to Skiza, this Luoism will take some of us to the ground, but we would have died too way back if it were to be so.
“Nieza..!” that’s how they call me in my hood. “ Long time Nieza.”
“Yes Vickens, long time… are you around?”
“Yes I’m around Nieza, unataka kuniona ama unataka condom?”
“No no no… Vick, I’m not calling for CD today, I just got a carton of Salama from Vivian last week.” Vivian is a lady friend of mine who works at Umoja market VCT.
“Nieeeezaaa…. Hehehe… carton mzima? Hiyo ni ya CDF?”
“Hehe… not really Vick, the lady who gave me the carton was just in good moods….” (Please note: Men borrow condoms more than okoa jahazi, it’s all about being a brother’s keeper.)
Vickens takes me through a number of gyms that would be fit for me. Of course, we compare the fees each one of them charge, the equipment they have, space, location and availability of women… I’m not setting foot in any gym full of bearded, full chested men wearing a King Kong look with sweats that smell like decayed hyacinth with no woman to kill the monotony. I like motivation… weaker characters. By the way, what do women go to the gym for apart from losing weight? To gain stamina? Or be fit? Fit for what? If I married a Nyeri woman and she starts going to the gym, it won’t matter whether she’s there to lose weight or madness, I’ll immediately apply for my Taekwondo classes with The Patrick Lumumba School of Martial arts for a short term course on defensive skills. I would also write a quick letter to my friend Steve Shiffman, the CEO of Calvin Klein to consider coming up with underwear that can resist the temptation of a sharp knife invading my human electric socket when I’m asleep.
We settle on Mo-Faya Fitness Centre. It’s a spacious gym that sits on the most outward sides of Donholm phase 5 estate. The surrounding is cool, no noise, no children hopping around and no hootings unless you fart and listen to your own music. I could hear the clanking of weights from the door and the sounds of equipment grew louder as we approached the counter to register to see the instructor. The lady who receives us is this chocolate doll-faced lady in a fitting track suit. She is wearing short hair, my favourite, and a figure that would make a few people confuse her with a big Coca-Cola bottle in the dark. She has a few muscles judging from her wide shoulders, but just wide enough to make her look fit. Yes, this is beauty and fitness, I’m yet to engage the brains, but that doesn’t even matter here. She takes us through the list of activities to choose from. When I tell her that I’m there to cut some fats from my tummy, she gives me this “dude, guys are here for more serious things homie” look.
But then she tells me they have a gym instructor who will take me through my sessions and that I would begin with light activities like dancing…. I’m the worst dancer on earth, that one I know, and rope skipping…? I’m not going to do that. I change my mind.
“I think I’ll go for weight lifting too,” I tell her, mind made up.
Vickens is just coming back from making a tour of the whole gym. He tells me the gym is packed with equipment and muscles. The lady asks if she can show us around.
As she turns to lead from the front, I turn my head to meet Vicken’s eyes; we nod our heads to agree in unison that in deed mbele iko sawa. As we take the tour she reminds us that a 45 minutes gym session thrice a week is just enough for the body as long as you stick to the training while in there.
“Avoid distractive stuff like texting, reading magazines and excessive screwing around talking to your friends between sets, David,” she says looking my way. That sets sounded like sex, even the rules. Don’t you think?
“It's Cavine… not David, sweetheart…” (That sweetheart is a hunting line.)
“Oh! Sorry dear…”
“You see, when you text or flirt around between sets you lose focus and your performance may be compromised.” She continues. I’m getting more convinced that this sets and sex must be relatives.
I asked her what she meant by sets.
“It’s a group of consecutive repetitions.” This was getting boring but I didn’t want to switch off. I have to understand what this repetition is then I will ask her to take me to the weights. I want to get going. I also don’t want to look like a dumbass, asking everything like I was so green to fitness.
“So repetitions are the total number of exercises one does?” I ask her, not even sure what I meant by that. I was kind of avoiding the direct question of what are repetitions.
“We call them Reps, dear,” she tells me. “Let’s say for instance, for starters like you… (I hate that term) if you decide to do a bench press or incline press or decline press or cable flyes or dumbbell flyes (uuuwi!) or triceps, you should aim to repeat it like 10 to 12 times in a set.” I understood that. I thought that if she were a guy, she would have simply told me doing 12 press ups is a repetition of press ups, making 12, resting, then making another 12 makes 2 sets. That’s a manly language, always fast and short… (Don’t try this in bed).
We’ve been here for almost half an hour and counting. I feel it’s going to be a long evening. Let’s call it orientation. I’m taken to the machines now, shown the leg extensions, hack squats, elliptical trainer and the infamous jogging treadmill, I’ve always seen it in movies, since the times of Cynthia Rothrock, a good substitute for women who don’t want to take a run out there.
And the introduction ends at some point. We get to business. Weights are in kilos; from 2.5kg to 50 kg on each end. So the lightest you can carry is 10 kg. I dismiss 10 kg, I compare it to the 10 litre jerry can of water, too light for me (I guess). I go for 30 kgs. When I tried to lift it first, I thought that the floor might be magnetic such that it holds the weights to the ground since the weights were not leaving the ground. I put more pressure on my fits, clenched my teeth and let out a loud yell as the weight left the ground. I was now holding it to my thighs… but something wasn’t right. Did I just yell? It must have been the loudest yell that evening. Everyone stopped all eyes on me. What the hell! All those eyes on me? Hehe... trust me, I’m not going to lift this thing an inch higher. I begin to think of the rope skipping the lady had advised me on earlier. No way! I’ve got to be a man. A man is effort. I release some 10 kg and go for the 20 kg. It gets better. I’m pushing ten and counting, the feeling is great, I can do this, I tell myself, I’m at 16, the fists are burning… I should make it 20, I’m a man. I’m at 19, dude, take some food before you get to the gym, I must make it 20, so I make the last push which comes with a loud fart. I put the weights down and feel between my buttocks to confirm there are no extras. No there aren’t any.
I go for the second set, I want to lift this set between my chest and abdomen, I’ve been told it can help bring the six cubicles, I’m raining sweat, I feel it run from my back to my trouser to the ox-bow lake, down the tributaries. It’s not easy, but wasn’t today orientation day? And where the hell is Vickens? Yes, where the hell is he? I ask this as I head to pick my backpack. What an excuse to leave the gym! This isn’t my home, after all, it’s 20 minutes to 7 pm. I don’t miss evening news. And there is Vickens smiling sheepishly to our lady receptionist, men are cunning. He will have to explain to me if this was the best gym we could come to or this was part of his plans to expand his women empire.
I’m off, tomorrow is alive. I might get back to the gym or I might not, but who cares? I love the sweat but I’m going to think about the pain again.