Sorry I’m not writing more. The book is at a critical juncture. Here, to make up for it, is a blog I wrote when this blog was only read by my mom (who, as luck would have it, is just coming back online after her retirement!) Yay Mom!
Anyway, happy working out. (That is part of your New Year’s resolutions, isn’t it? Or has it already hit the skids, along with the resolve not to watch reality TV anymore?
First Published Quite Some Time Ago
The men who teach my fitness classes are gods.
Radically fit, they are like Superman, Spiderman and Vin Diesel all rolled into one. Someone at my gym had the bright idea of using mixed martial artists as aerobics instructors. Professional fighters teach my step classes!
If you think about it, a large, potentially deadly man is an ideal choice to run an exercise class. He’ll bring in all those people (guys, mostly) who would otherwise think there was something lame about jumping up and down in time to a speeded up version of I Will Survive. You won’t find the usual fitness class squeaky wheels whining at someone who could subdue them permanently with one casually applied commando move. Plus, there’s something inspiring about people who are so completely, even dangerously, fit.
The names of the classes reflect the extreme nature of the instructors: Boot Camp, Martial Arts Mayhem. You can almost believe you are in boot camp when the bald-headed instructor with corded forearms and steer-like neck comes in. One look at him and you know you aren’t going to spend an hour tangled up in grapevines.
No matter what the classes are called, the moves are pretty much the same: push ups, sit ups, punches and kicks and squats. I love to watch John, Steve, Rock or whoever, call out instructions, keep a stern eye on the class, and perform the moves, all the while growing more and more mountainously large. Soon, people begin collapsing around the room; they are unable to rise for the fiftieth push-up or they roll into fetal position after the seventy-fifth crunch. But not me. I’m so caught up in my fantasy world that I’m unstoppable. It’s not about sex. (Although my husband’s expertise in martial arts didn’t escape my notice when we first started dating.) It’s about conferred physical power, the same thing that made me keen to join the boys’ teams in elementary school.
I keep thinking John, Steve, John, or Rock is going to notice now incredibly tough I am. They are going to see how I snap back that front punch, how I give that side kick just a little extra power, and they’re going to come over and ask: “Say, did you used to study martial arts?”
I’ll be forced to admit that, why, yes, in fact, I did take karate for a while there, about ten years ago.
“Wow,” Steve, John, or Rock, will say. “It really shows.” Then, according to my fantasy, they will ask me to train with them at their dojo for the next Ultimate Fighting Championship, (banned in forty-nine states!) After that I’ll be the first woman to go four rounds in the Octagon with the Heavyweight (no, better make that feather-weight) Champion of the World, and emerge victorious.
There are factors that may count against me. Such as my fear of pain. Then there’s my age: a rather surprising 35. Us Ultimate Fighter types usually start training earlier, particularly when we’re women with very little actual physical strength.
But in class, while others give up, letting the barbells fall to their sides, I valiantly loft mine overhead one more time. Notice me! I’m uncannily tough!
Do the slender yoga-toned women in the class also imagine that they are going to be invited to join Steve, John and Rock in the next jiu jitsu or mui thai tournament? It’s obvious that the girl who comes decked out in fatigues and the terry-cloth headband does. Maybe we’ll become our own mixed martial arts dojo: the Quite Scary Girlz! Steve, John and Rock will become our trainers, recognizing, with sadness, the day we become too much for even them. “There is no more we can teach you,” they’ll say to us in Yoda-like tones, “The students have surpassed the masters.” One of us may be asked to reprise Linda Hamilton’s role in the latest installment of the Terminator franchise. Another may get a part the latest Seagal picture (at least until she whups his ass and herself becomes the star of the latest action adventure series and starts hanging out with Drew Barrymore.)
“Twenty-six, twenty-seven, twenty-eight! Come on you wimps!” calls Steve, John, or Rock from the front of the class while pushing himself up on one toe and one fingertip. I’ll die trying, because if I don’t, how’s he ever going to be able to figure out the amazing strength lurking beneath my rather unthreatening appearance.