I walk the dog. Sometimes I bounce while doing this, which I like to characterize as jogging.
I get to yoga a couple times a week.
That's about it.
I have a friend who is not a writer. She is a busy, dynamic woman with the energy of a human being who hasn't yet had children. She knows things about computers. Her house is always clean. And, she exercises a lot. Nearly every day, in fact. Yesterday, I made the grave error of agreeing to join her for her morning workout.
I must have missed the part where she said she does Crossfit. Maybe I thought she said something about being fit. Or cross. Words I use often, just not together. Saturday morning I pulled my car into an industrial row of buildings and groaned a little when I saw the sign. Bold, masculine letters, hinting at the testosterone filled environment I was about to enter. Inside the foyer hung a National Guard banner with inspirational sayings demanding No Man Left Behind! and NEVER Give up! Things you might hear in boot camp; a definite portent that I was entering the tenth circle of hell. I should have sloshed some of my chai tea on my tank top and hoofed it back to the car. But I didn't. Besides, that would have flown in the face of the other signs insisting Don't Give up When You're Tired. Give up When You're Done and Lift Like a Monster.
As an introverted writer who is particularly sensitive to sounds and smells and too much sensory stimuli I was immediately appreciative of my yoga class. Why?
1. Yoga is quiet. There is no talking, unless you count the hushed, dulcet tones of the yogi. The foyer has a small fountain that burbles over an urn filled with round pebbles inscribed with namaste and other gentle affirmations.
2. The lighting is soft. On Sunday nights there is candlelight yoga. Soothing - and bonus: everyone looks ten years younger.
3. Savasana. Savasana is Sanskrit for "corpse pose." In my regular yoga class, we start with this pose, use it throughout the class to reset our bodies after some hard work, and end with it. Basically, you get to lay down. You can't move. You are supposed to meditate and clear your mind. You get to lay down.
4. There is no pressure to compete - only to honor where your "body is at" and try your best. The yogi is supportive and brings my inflexible body blocks and straps and soft blankets upon which my knees can rest while attempting camel pose.
5. My circulation isn't what it used to be, and I usually attend a warm vinyasa flow or hot yoga class. It's like stretching in a sauna and is perfect for someone who hates being cold.
Saturday morning I walked into a warehouse with ceilings as high as a Costco. I was immediately assaulted on every sensory front. Enormously-muscled people were lifting dumbbells with weights the size of car tires and letting them clang to the ground in a jarring cacophony of steel against floor. Eminem blared from the speakers ...Tear this motherfucking roof off like two dogs caged...
There were no candles or Himalayan sea salt lamps. Instead, the ceiling buzzed with row after row of high-definition fluorescent tubes. It smelled like a car parts store; rubber and steel and maybe a slight top note of stale coffee and sports drinks.
The workout was a circuit class replete with medicine balls, straps, chin-up bars, kettle balls, and large metal rods intended to carry enormous weighted disks heavier than all five of my children combined. Thankfully, as a newbie, I was given a hollow PVC tube to practice my "form." This of course, came with the assumption that I would be using this form in the near future to hoist a heavy bar up to my collar bone, crack my chin open, and fall back into a heap of shame before being hustled away on a gurney for my broken spine. Practicing with a hollow plastic tube has rendered my thighs and rear-end useless for things like helping me walk, or getting into a standing position. Crossfit places a lot of emphasis on doing most things from a squatting position. Weight in your heels! Get that ass lower! LOWER. Knees together. Now bring the bar up to your chin and flip your elbows out at a 90 degree angle to your body. Tighten that ass. This, coupled with the three-pound tube, and I am no longer mobile.
At the sit-up station, I attempted the fast, jerky motion required for Crossfit sit-ups in an effort to get as many reps in as short of a time as possible. The shadow of a trainer darkened my quivering body. "Come on! You got this! Tighten your core as you go up."
When out of my comfort zone, I tend to default to self-deprecating humor. I like to think this gets people on my side. "Hah!" I squeaked out. "I don't really have much of a core. I've had five kids, and with the last pregnancy and that poly-hydramnios syndrome..." my over-explanation was cut off. She squatted down in front of me. I noticed her weight was on her heels, her perfectly toned abs dancing and flexing as she spoke, "Stop. First, I don't see five kids as a weakness," she stood back up, revealing a vertical pectoral line above her tiny workout top. "I see it as a strength." She gave me a steely look. "Do you see what I did there? I turned that around for you. Now use your strength and keep going!" She walked away, her backside as taut and round as two bowling balls.
I fumed (as best one can fume when unable to breathe). She really needed to know that my abdominal wall had permanently torn in two with my fifth pregnancy. She should tell me to take it easy, and offer a nice aromatherapy bath salt to take home so I could clear my head of the clutter that comes from forgetting to mindfully meditate. And not once did I hear anyone say Namaste. I assumed - rightly - that there was no gift shop with soy candles in the back.
But, I did finish. If only to avoid further admonishment. If my hands hadn't been numb (can you get a stroke from Crossfit? I'm going to say yes) I would have texted my yoga studio and told them how much I loved them.
My friend messaged me today, asking me to go with her again in the morning. Correction, middle of the night (5 AM for God's sake). I demurred, and she responded with a picture of a woman in yoga pants with a firm backside. It said, "Women who look great in yoga pants do more lifting than yoga."
Forgive me, fair yogis. I quickly messaged back, "Fucker." See what I did there? I left off the Namaste.