Friday, July 11, 2008

Let's Get Physical

I work out at the gym.

I had that little spell with running, but my preference has always been a 60 minute class at the gym with loud music and a motivating instructor. My affinity for the guided workout was born in the basement of my childhood home with her:

You've just gotta love Jane Fonda. Look at her hair! Her horizontal stripes! The perfect angles of her toasty warm legs! She had it going on.

Then there was a period of time when I worked at the YMCA, and had the chance to participate in real live aerobics classes. I fancied the low impact variety, and I rocked my footless tights and colorful leotards.

During college, I joined Family Fitness here in San Diego at a rate of $14 per month. That, my friends, was a lifetime membership to what is now 24 Hour Fitness, a membership that I have maintained by making those $14 monthly payments for the duration, even that one time when I forgot to go for 5 years.

As a new member back in the late 80s, I discovered the appeal of Step aerobics, but my girlfriend Aline and I were humble about the dizzying scope of our badassness. In fact, we showed off quite a lot of that ass badness wearing leotards that shot straight up our cracks, with bike shorts underneath. Then I got distracted by marriage and pregnancy, and slowly but surely the bad of my assness turned into the fat of my assness. At some moment of blind optimism, I procured a step of my own and a bunch of newer videos that promised to transform my various jiggly bits into steel. But then I had another baby and I just stayed jiggly, and happy with my babies and my snacks and my beer.

Right around the time that my youngest turned two, the wife of a local morning radio talk show host that I listen to dropped dead of a heart attack. They had two young kids. She was 39.

I went back to the gym.

Many things had changed during my hiatus, but many more had stayed the same. The fashion, thankfully, had become more about comfort and function than asscrack. I got back into Step, and it was a great way to improve my health and get out of the house for a couple of hours at a time. I kept up with my champion skill at snacking and beer drinking, so I stayed jiggly. I was jiggly-fit, though, damn it.

I maintained the status quo for several years before finding the motivation to lose weight. I’ve been significantly smaller for a couple of years now. Although I do have a pretty little gut roll that really likes me, and comes back to visit quite regularly. In fact, I’m pretty sure the little cutie is planning to stow away inside my pants for the upcoming visit to Connecticut.

But I digress. What has NOT changed at the gym is the weird subculture of the people. There’s the guy who struts around the front of the room talking loudly, greeting people by name, and just oozing cool confidence. I once saw him stocking the shelves at Albertson’s, and there was an audible thump as my worlds collided. There’s also the issue of territory in the Group X room, and the politics of saving steps, and maintaining the proper distance between your step and your neighbor’s. I’ve recently added kickboxing to my gym repertoire, and the space issue there is even more intense without the step itself to mark your real estate. And people are kicking and punching in there!

And there is the issue of how to deal with newbies. We’ve all been there at one time, obviously, but we regulars block those memories out as soon as we get the hang of whatever class we are learning. We go to our spot and we do our thing, we watch ourselves in the mirror and steal glances at the beautiful or hideous bodies around us. We are conspicuous in our horrified chagrin when someone passes gas, so everyone will know that we would never do that. We send silent supportive vibes to the newbies so as not to attract attention to them. As long as they stay out of our way, we will pretend to ignore them while laughing at them deep down inside, where it counts. If we don’t make eye contact, they can’t be certain that we see them. Just like the story my parents love to tell about how Ellie once walked across the room during their cocktail party with her hands over her eyes so no one would see her. Awwwwww! They all catch on eventually, just like Ellie must have.


Anonymous said...

LOL, Littlest. You're hilarious, you know that? And you have it going on, with your bad-ass, fit little bod, gut roll or not.

And I gotta tell you what. That cocktail party trick? It still works.

Anonymous said...

Jiggly-fit -- that, my friend, is a great new word. You're just plain fit though.

I so wish Aline was still a San Diego bad ass. Sigh.

Anonymous said...

Okay, Ellie, what is the "cocktail party trick"?

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I know! See Jacquie's last paragraph, please.

Anonymous said...

I so am NOT a skimmer. I'm just a dumb ass sometimes. (Never a bad ass though.)

Anonymous said...

Aw, honey. Always a bad ass. Always a bad ass.

Tess said...

Ahhh. I love a good gym post. I am TREMBLING over your $14 24-Hour Membership. I mean, WHAT? Don't worry, I won't tell The Man.

I was a total Step Rat back in the day. It's still one of my favorite things to do.

Madness said...

Lets get physical, physical .. I wanna get physical .. let me hear your body talk.. your body talk.
I came here through a comment left on my blog, by Ellie.. and it just so happens that I have the same reaction here that she had there .."Great, thanks" .. and what a small strange world it is.. you see.. MY blog put an Olivia Newton John song in Ellies brain and YOUR blog has now put one in MINE. But it SUCKS because the song I had originally stuck in my head was a GOOD one .. this one SUCKS.
Oh well.. its worth on account of I found a KICK ASS BLOG .. nice work ladies!

Anonymous said...

When I started at the gym in my FIFTIES, I fell in love with the foot press/leg lift. I started out at 70 pounds and didn't believe that the weights had to be moved DOWN from 190!!! (Someone HAD to be doing that on purpose as a joke!)

Three months later, and I was moving the weights up from a newbi's SEVENTY POUNDS (snork) UP to MY 190 pounds!!

Ah the JOY. I still had the fat, but it was so damn firm that I felt as solid as the punching bag!!

(why did I quit?!!!!) Waaaaaaa!

Anonymous said...

P.S. On Saturday, July 12, I will have a post that contains a link to this site.

KG said...

That legging with thong leotard on top was hawt, man. Especially when combined with the Olivia Newton John music video . . .