Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Realistically, every woman in this country wants to tweak some part of her body. Whether it be losing weight or the tip of your nose, that much is true. Some go about it in a more financial way, paying professionals to sculpt their problem areas or in some cases to attach an Oreck 8-pound to their midsections. And we all wondered what that round brush attachment was for.

For those of us who can’t shell out thousands on our looks, there is the old-fashioned approach. Exercise and dieting. The words that strike fear into the hearts of many. We are a culture of we want what we want when we want it. We want instant gratification. But, again, unless you go the Hoover route, it ain’t gonna happen that way.

I have come to the conclusion that in order to eat right and/or exercise, you must become obsessed with it. At least that’s true for me. If I am not constantly thinking about it, I don’t do it. I can be getting ready to go eat at a restaurant and thinking to myself, OK I need to have something healthy, something grilled, something with fiber. Then I get to the restaurant and I think, Mmm, fried, breaded bits of tasty. Just like that. In the time it takes to speak to someone or drive three and a half miles, my healthy focus goes poof. So it must be in the forefront of my mind.

Similarly, if I don’t constantly tell myself that I have to go to the gym, I won’t. Sometimes even though I am telling myself I have to go, I don’t. Time constraints and all. There’s always something going on that I have to schedule around. I’m pretty sure just about everyone has the same excuses.

But I have started taking cardio classes at the gym. I say cardio because I can’t bring myself to say aerobics. I mean, technically, I’m not taking aerobics. Aerobics, to me, just presents an image of a room full of women in leotards and leg warmers. Or more specifically Olivia Newton John’s video for ‘Let’s Get Physical’. I am not taking aerobics. I’m not!!

So far I have attended Pilates, so I can say I do Pilates, and Cardio Kick-boxing, so I can beat stuff up that won’t object. I would like to recount for you how one of each of these classes went.

I took my first Pilates class on a Saturday morning, knowing it was a 45 minute class. I thought it was going to be like yoga. Heh, yeah, it’s not. Whenever I take a class I feel stupid, like other people in the class are looking at me and thinking that I’m not doing it right or I’m on the wrong foot. I never think that perhaps they are like me and are too busy judging themselves and being paranoid to judge someone else. Then I notice the woman facing the wrong way and I relax a little.

I thought I had arrived a little late. When I got to the studio there was a bunch of people already spaced out everywhere with steps in front of some of them. Crap. Having never done Pilates before, I didn’t know what kind of equipment was needed. I saw one step unattended and scurried to stand behind it, ready to start. Then the woman who was using it walked back up. Crap some more. She told me I could use it, though. That was nice, albeit a little odd. Didn’t she need one? Turned out that, no, she didn’t need a step because for the next ten minutes no one needed it. That’s when I realized that I had bounded in and done the cool down of the previous cardio class (not aerobics). Awkward.

So half the people cleared out and the steps disappeared. Then we had to go retrieve the mats for the next class. As I picked a spot near the back I surveyed the rest of the class. I always look around to make sure I’m not the biggest person there. I wasn’t. Whew.

Little did I know, Pilates is a lot of ab work. I was not prepared, but I did it anyway. Mostly just to save face. Then we did something called a V-sit. Yeah, that was all kinds of fun. I don’t know how it’s possible for one’s ass to be both fat and bony, but mine is. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of your tailbone grinding against the floor. Basically, it’s sitting with your legs in the air and your body forming a letter V.

Luckily time flies when you’re cringing with pain from the burning in your abs and thighs. I think that’s how that saying goes. By the time I got around to saying in my head, If this isn’t over soon I’m going to snap the waify instructor in half, the class was just about over. Then I went and introduced myself to the tiny blonde girl who had lead the class, because I was new and she was calling everyone else by name. She asked if I was doing the spin class next. I asked her if she was delusional.

For some reason I didn’t think I had had enough punishment that day. Then I proceeded to the treadmill and slogged out 3.1 miles in anticipation for the 5K I had signed up for the following week. Shortly thereafter, I was clinically dead for 4 minutes.

The 5K is a whole other story.

The kick-boxing class appealed to me because it allowed me to wail on a punching bag without being looked at funny. Well, the cardio part of the class name was lost on me. That is, until we were told to do imaginary jump rope for what seemed like about 12 minutes. I thought about greatly exaggerating that number for emphasis, but let’s face it 12 minutes of jump rope is hard enough.

My typical class anxiety made an appearance but was justified this time. We had to wear boxing wraps, fished out of a cabinet where they were thrown pell-mell. I actually was late to this class so I grabbed the first two I saw. They were both for the left hand. I made it work because I was too embarrassed to go back and dig around to find a right hand glove since the class had started already. Then I wrapped them wrong, which I actually did not realize until the next class so that really wasn’t a problem yet.

I broke almost every nail I had and renewed my hatred of jumping jacks. It was a good class. I also realized that I can only raise my leg to kick just so many times in rapid succession. After that, it’s just dead weight, man. It’s not happening.

I did enjoy the class, though. Probably because I was hitting and kicking harder than everyone else. I managed to move the free-standing heavy bag halfway across the room just from punching and kicking it.

My second kick-boxing class involved all manner of insanity associated with a medicine ball. I thought medicine was supposed to make you better. This kind just makes you hurt more. Damn false advertising. This time, though, I ducked out to get water when the instructor girl started her imaginary jump rope montage. Water beats jumping any day.

I had taken the time to find both the left and right hand wrap this time, but then realized I had wrapped them wrong. Ah, whatever. I did what was comfortable and it worked for me.

This class instilled in me a new reason to have anxiety, vertigo. Not so much dizziness, as lack of balance. Evidently, I have terrible balance. This was brought to my attention by all the kicking. It probably doesn’t look good when after you do a roundhouse kick you go stumbling about for a few seconds, making you late to get the next kick in.

I also now believe that the instructors are honor-bound to lie to you if it will encourage you at all. One of the other instructors joined in the class halfway through. At the end of class I was taking off my wraps when he spoke up and said “What’s up?” I replied with “My blood pressure.” He laughed and said that I had done great and I didn’t quit. This much was true. Then he hit me with “Don’t worry, though. You’re losing weight.” I said thanks because at the time I hadn’t analyzed what had just been said.

This guy had never seen me before. How did he know if I was losing weight? Moreover, who said I was trying to lose weight? Did that guy just call me fat? Aw, hell.

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