Massage? No thanks.

Well, this was quite the experience.  My gym is a new one, complete with everything any gym goer could want.  That is to say, even those massage chairs for the weary patron who needs a knot or two worked out before heading home. In this gym, there are two chairs stationed side by side alongside the full length windows of the entrance. These chairs are the first thing you see when you come in and the last thing on your way out. I guess you could say that sitting in these chairs is basically like sitting in a store front window on a busy downtown street. There is no privacy, and ultimately, no dignity either.

I hadn’t taken advantage of the massage chair until tonight. I head over to the chair at the same time as a young guy. I take one, he the other. After looking at the remote I press the power button and away I go. The chair tilts back, the legs raise up and next thing I know my legs are seemingly locked into position and what feels like two steel balls start pounding my back. I’m guessing that this point, my legs were locked in so I didn’t jump out of the chair in a reflex motion from the pain and go head first into the adjacent wall. The metal rollers that locked my legs in were probably supposed to feel good as it tightened and released in a sort of vice-grip type of hold. It had such a tight hold on my calves that I was certain that whatever muscle and tissue I had on my calves was now squeezed down around my ankles.  Was this supposed to be comfort?  The force of the steel balls on my back is so strong that as it passes down by back, my entire torso is forced in an arch – first upward and then down. To someone watching, it must’ve looked like I was either having some sort of seizure, or having an erotic moment with an invisible lover.

The massaging arm gets to the middle of my back and then starts a pounding motion that is so vigorous every ounce of fat I have begins to giggle… even fat I didn’t know I had. Yes, my boobs, my love handles, my newly discovered double chin, the bags under my eyes, my thighs , yes everything is vibrating at a speed similar to an off balance washing machine load. Surely both myself and the chair were now moving across the floor. I hear the voices of other gym goers behind me as they arrive and are victim to this helpless display that I am. Finally, the massage arms moved up my back in the same rolling motion that caused my torso to arch again, up, up, up to my shoulders and to the back of my neck where what felt like a steel toed boot then kicked me in my skull. My eyes open immediately and as my fingers scramble to find the remote, I see my young massage neighbour is replaced by an overweight old man. I turn my chair to a less strenuous massage, one that perhaps won’t bring tears to my eyes. I mean after all, these chairs are rarely available as it seems there are line-ups at times. Surely there is a comfort dial on here. My search for a gentle massage is interrupted by the old man now seated next to me. I discover he is reclined to a laying down position and groaning in either agony or ecstasy. I couldn’t tell. Maybe he couldn’t tell either.  His eyes were closed, but he continued to groan in what sort of sounded like pleasure. That was the only way I could tell he hadn’t taken a massive coronary when the alleged “massage” began.

At this point, I’d had enough of the torture chair. The punches in the back, the kicks in the head, the bruise inducing hold on my legs, and now the groaning of my nearby neighbour were all too much. All that was left was for the chair to electrocute me at this point. I press the power button and feel the release of the vice grip around my legs. This must be what prisoners felt like the day of their pardon. I felt like I’d been shackled for years… held in some sort of prison for the curious flabby person.

Needless to say that after this evening, I’ll just keep to the regular torture I experience at the gym… the weights, the cardio machines, the unexpected naked bodies in the locker room, the spandex/lycra pants on bodies not meant for it, and I’ll leave the massage chair for the thrill seekers.

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