Body of Work: The side-effects of exercise

I expected a bolt from the blue, a major revelation, some kind of spectacular come-to-Jesus, hallelujah kind of moment would proceed my starting to get up early, making me a protein shake, and heading on over to the gym to perform some kind of exercising/flailing maneuver, and yet, there has been no falling to my knees and clutching my head, no seizing of my heart, no visions or moments of self-discovery. Just me, getting up in the morning and thinking I am going to go on over to the gym and swim some laps, I think.

And that's what I did. I put on my only swimsuit, which is not a sleek and Olympic-caliber swimsuit that makes me smooth and glossy and slippery like a fish but instead is a plaid halter number from Target with matching boy shorts, dug out my dusty accoutrements--the rubber hat, the goggles that I feel make me look inquisitive and somewhat developmentally disabled, the nose clip, the ear plugs--and I biked on over to the gym. The pool was, to my surprise, filled with tiny old ladies who were bouncing up and down looking bored and chatting with each other in front of a young instructor looking frustrated and on the verge of beating everyone to death with a kickboard.

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I hesitated a moment over by the hooks on the wall, about to pull off my T-shirt dress in front of a room full of people, to be exposed there in all my weird, wrinkly glory, and then I realized I didn't care very much. I was at the gym, preparing to be strong and awesome, and if you don't like my thighs, you can go look at your own thighs. There are many mirrors for you to do exactly that.

The class cleared out, and I swam, up and down the pool, veering around small old ladies wondering where the ladder was and young swim team hopefuls slapping the water with their outsized adolescent paws like it had done them wrong, and I swam. I was getting very tired, and my arms were aching, and I thought I must have been swimming for hours and laps and laps and hours, and it turned out it was less than five minutes. My endurance might be a little low. My arms might be a little noodly.

I stuck it out for a while longer, pushing myself until I felt like I was going to sink right to the bottom of the pool, and then I staggered out and into the locker room, and then came back out for my towel, and then came back out again for my bag. And that was my return to swimming. For a whole 15 minutes that felt like three hours. Maybe, I thought, I really need some exercise. I went home, and was useless for the entire rest of the day, because I am pathetic. Except I was pretty awesome, yeah?

I decided to cross-train, I looked up the yoga classes at the gym (because the idea of Bikram is still weirdly terrifying and intimidating) and I bravely crawled out of a warm bed filled with warm boy to bike home and make myself a protein shake before I wound my way over to the gym. I was the first one there, and wondered if I was in the wrong place, but then a tiny blonde lady bounced through the doors, turned on some soothing music and started doing things like lifting her entire body up off the floor, balanced on a single pinky. She offered modifications, and that was nice.

We balanced on our pinkies for a full hour, dropping from pose to pose to pose, and it was remarkably aerobic. I only almost fell over twice, and I think I have finally figured out Downward Facing Dog (which is really harder than you'd think a pose where you just sort of...face downward ought to be). I felt wiped out at the end. The teacher, who is adorable and has very strong pinkies introduced herself at the end, told me I did a great job and I wandered out, feeling vaguely out of it and tired but really lovely and not at all flexible and strong. That would come with time, I promised myself.

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And then I went home, and have been useless all day. Though I have to cop to a psychological effect--I worked so hard! I think. I am going to let myself slack off for a little, as a reward! And then it madly gets out of hand and it is 5:30 in the afternoon and the only thing I have accomplished is a shower. I brushed my teeth! Unfortunately, I cannot invoice for that.

That's going to stop, right? I'm going to build up endurance and power and strength and feel all energized after exercise pretty soon and get over my rationalizations, right? Because as much as I love it and as good as exercise feels, I really cannot spend the rest of my life lying on the couch and putting off doing anything more strenuous than sipping water and patting the cat after working out, no matter how like a magical Viking yoga and swimming and tomorrow, Body Pump, make me.

I assume I have to just not wait for a bolt from the blue, and just do what I have to do, as one does. Class is at 5:30 tomorrow morning. By noon, I will have cured cancer.

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