Ouch, man, pain really sucks. For real, this isn't cool at all. Working out today, I was doing shoulder exercises when I pulled a muscle in my shoulder/neck area. Or maybe I sprained it. Hell, I don't know. All I know is that I'm in serious pain. Ow, ow, ow.
But the worst part of this whole situation isn't the pain. The highly dangerous exercise which has led me to this miserable state is "the shrug." A shrug involves holding a reasonably heavy weight at one's side and then, well, shrugging. Brad was eyeing me as I did my reps and noticed that my shoulders rotated as they shrugged.
"You know," he told me, "rotating your shoulders like that is horrible for your rotator cuff and really increases your risk of injury."
The thing is, I'm kinda hard-headed in general and this is especially true during work-outs. Something about an increase in testosterone levels or something.
So I responded with "Whatever, dude. I know what I'm doing. You just sit there and look pretty while Big Dad works out."
Two minutes later my shoulders feel like there's a welding crew doing their thing on my right trap. The chances of my rotator cuff having anything to do with this are slim, but that comes nowhere close to stopping the cheeky smirks and "I told you so"s Brad's been shooting at me all afternoon. Why is good advice sometimes the hardest kind to take?
The possibility that this will be an extended injury is depressing to think about. Unless I feel like working my legs 7 days a week, I'm pretty much out of commission until everything's healed. Which really sucks, because exercising is an important part of every day for me. Obviously most of my exercise routines are limited to calisthenics like push-ups, crunches, squats, etc. Although some weighted exercises are possible by using a plastic garbage bag I've filled with around 8 gallons of water, tied shut, and wrapped in a bed sheet like some sort of oversized hobo knapsack. You know, the kind tied onto the end of their stick as they strolled down the railroad tracks in those old cartoons. A thick, rolled-up magazine serves as a handle. This contraption is ideal for curls, dead lifts and - when done properly - shrugs.
This water bag is no creative innovation of my own, of course. There are no weights of any kind here in the prison, so some variations on the theme are filled with sand. And a few of the really big guys just use the littler guys as weights. Whatever works, ya' know.
Some of these people take their physical fitness a little more seriously than they probably should. I once overheard one guy telling somebody he works out so much because "It's a lot harder for a knife to go through a set of six-pack abs than it is to go through a bunch of flab." Huh. I mean, don't get me wrong, there does seem to be some validity to that statement. It's just that I've always taken the stance that my set of six-pack abs pretty much just looks cool. But the whole knife argument works too, I guess. Tomato, tomahto.
A lot of the gangs actually make a certain number of physical fitness sessions a week compulsory for their members, a couple even going so far as having military-style group training with the "drop and give me 25" and everything. Black gangs are usually the funniest to watch because the younger members all have disgustedly bitter looks on their faces, as if their mom just told them they had to eat their vegetables. Then during the jogging portion a few always manage to trip over the pants hanging down to their knees.
We SuperFriends exercise as little or as much as we like. As the #1, I do my best to encourage all forms of personal fitness. Some of the offerings here amaze even me. The spinning class held in the gymnasium was unfortunately short-lived due to lack of enrollment.
The step aerobics class, however, was a huge success from its inception. The group was led by a 50-year old black gangbanger named Streeter, who learned what he knew about step aerobics from a book he had read a few weeks before the first class. Those of use secure enough to attend caught a few snickers from the non-participants who wandered into the gym only to find around 30 grown men sweatin' it out to a Madonna CD. But we were dedicated and had a good time.
No step aerobics classes in the hole. I've been known to do a few step-ups onto the toilet seat whenever "Material Girl" comes on the radio. But somehow it's not the same. My new kick is actually yoga. Man, yoga is the real deal. I was introduced to the practice by a good friend of mine who has been kind enough to mail me pictures and descriptions of poses along with instructions for the various Pranayama breathing exercises and routines like Sun Salutation. Despite having only been practicing for a few months, I am already a life-long proponent of yoga. With the benefits to mind and body, there is no doubt this is ideal for someone dealing with the stresses of incarceration. Anyone who knows someone incarcerated should strongly encourage that person to take it up.
Despite yoga's benefits, I still sometimes feel the need to exercise caution (no pun intended) when performing some of the more provocative poses. Some I flat-out refuse to do. Not that I am unconfident in any way with my sexuality, and I can confidently say the same is true for Brad. But when you're as dangerously good-looking as I am, shifting one's body into the wide-legged forward bend is just too much like playing with a loaded gun.