Why do I insist on paying young, fit people large sums of money to physically and emotionally torture me? How much punishment must one inflict on oneself before one is considered a masochist? Evidently, the DSM IV only has a classification for sexual masochism, so unless I intend to make these kickboxing classes a lot more inappropriate, that question will go unanswered. Despite full-body akinesia from my first kickboxing class just 48 hours prior, I, upon the advice of several people more athletic than me (who I now resent), decided to “power through it” and go to my second. The question of whether or not that was a good idea I hope to answer in the proceeding paragraphs.
So, about ten minutes before I had to leave work to make the class, I changed my mind and decided this was lunacy. The similarities to stories of mentally ill people who jump out of windows, break both legs, and continue trying to run are too great. But, after numerous self-asseverations that I would not liquefy into a boneless, muscle-less puddle as a result, I conceded to go. I arrived late. On the way there I went east when I should have gone west; like the pompous, would-be auteur that I am, I was writing in my head the brilliantly cynical and hyperbolic blog post I am now typing and took the wrong exit. I finally arrive, rush in, and jump into my workout clothes à la George Jetson so that by the time I’m ready to go, I’m already out of breath. This does not bode well.
Halfway through and (surprise, surprise) just as before, I’m certain my quadriceps are about to spontaneously inflame, my abdominal wall is about to collapse in on itself like a dying star, and my lungs are about to explode out of my chest and spray innocent bystanders with blood and tissue bits. The woman I’m partnered with this time for sparring is clearly picturing me as some sort of sinister attacker. She has a look of such murderous fury on her face, and she’s punching my gloves so hard that, in combination with my profusely sweating hands, she’s about to punch them off and send them flying across the gym. I’m pretty sure at any moment I’m going to have my ear bitten off. This is possibly what she thinks is happening:
Needless to say, this is a jarring experience for me, for whom tennis is a contact sport. The instructor today has a personal vendetta against my abdomen. Images of me chained to a large boulder doing crunches while a vulture eats my liver race through my head. For those keeping score, when you combine Parts One and Two, I have now made three references to Hades. Not a good sign. In short, things are going pretty much exactly as I expected them to.
When I get home that evening, I’m actually feeling pretty good. I’m feeling energetic, not too sore. This can only mean one thing: yep, by morning, I’m catatonic. Getting out of bed requires this ludicrous swiveling, sliding technique I haven’t employed since I got a violent stomach illness at the age of 12. My joints pop and crackle with each step; I am human bubble wrap.
Evidently, this is still not enough of a sign for me. Clearly dissatisfied with how long it took for paralysis to descend, I then enrolled in my first ever pilates class that weekend, another mere 48 hours after my most recent body-wracking. I needed a haircut, and my salon is right next door to the studio, where I’ve previously taken yoga. So, with the promise of a head massage and a glass of wine immediately after, I once more forced myself to go. It seems my pilates instructor also has an unabashed hatred for my abs. And she is merciless. My abdominals and obliques are broken; my innards have free roam. She’s also cracking jokes and talking about the cheese plates from Wegmans and how good they are with a glass of wine. I could shank her with a sharpened toothbrush right about now. If I thought my kickboxing instructor was vengeful, this woman is some unholy amalgamation of Titus Andronicus, Inigo Montoya, and Lorena Bobbitt. By the next day, a sneeze is now an agonizing ordeal.
That night, something occurred. The most apt analogy I can ascribe to the apogee of my workout week is your grandpa and his dusty, old chair. The upholstery is worn and the wood creaks, but it is still his most cherished companion. Imagine that, without warning, the beloved chair snaps in half as he’s sitting in it, and your grandpa is lying prostrate across it on the floor. As I went to bed that evening, I began to lie back as usual and that was when I was reminded that my whole body is broken, the inevitable result of a fortnight of rigorous exercise regimens, which also included my regular yoga classes. My neck, back, stomach, ass, arms, and legs all give out simultaneously, and I plop violently onto my pillow. It has all happened so suddenly. We, your Grandpa and I, feel confused and embarrassed and confused that we are embarrassed; we did just fall, but it was under such strange circumstances. After all, years of uneventfully leaning back had taught us we could reasonably expect for it to happen again without incident. We feel we should be alarmed or ashamed. Yet we are just so tired and, hell, we’re already lying down. So instead, we just go to sleep, snoring lightly in a heaping pile.
And the final verdict:
First of all, everyone is inexcusably cheerful. It’s almost intolerable. And I don’t understand it. When I feel like my body is being ripped in half, I don’t want to see your smiling face. Or worse yet, have to smile back at you, as was the case in my pilates class. This isn’t a pre-school dance recital. I’m a grown woman (who is one more set from curling into a ball and whimpering like a little girl). Generally, when grown-ups smile for no reason, it’s not a good thing:
Furthermore, I’m not smiling because I’m in pain, and I’m in pain because I’m out of shape although I do thank you for reminding me of that fact. Overall, it’s a level of jocoseness not in tune with my current level of suffering.
Similarly and on a side note, giving exercises and implements cute and catchy names like burpee, teaser, and magic circle is so misleading it’s almost criminally deceptive. A more appropriate name for the burpee might be the barfee, the ralphee, or the evaginatee. The slang definition of a teaser is an enticement to attract attention; do not satisfy this curiosity or you will end up like this and then the joke’s on you! (Ba-dum…tsh!) And ah yes, the Pilates Circle, a device akin to a medieval rack in terms of the pain it can inflict, was a new discovery for me. My instructor kept ironically referring to it as the “Happy Circle”, which kept making me laugh, thanks to my having more than a few vulgar friends enlighten me as to the actual definition. Another new discovery: laughing is inadvisable when one is doing The Hundred. Who knew a small hoop with two padded handles could be such a pernicious little contrivance?
These were my final classes for a bit. I had to take a break from the relentless exercise to plan my 30th birthday party, arguably the impetus for this newfound activity that I’ve tenderly nurtured into a full-blown obsession. And party-planning in my home, when you’re with my OCD Adonis of a Greek, means doing a bunch of work on the house and cleaning it from top to bottom, even the parts guests are highly unlikely to be in- anyone else clean their laundry rooms before a soirée? But I vow to continue the butt-kicking kickboxing because…I think I might love it. I’m beginning to savor the immense regret I feel about two-thirds of the way through when I’m utterly
convinced that this is the time when I won’t make it, and I even enjoy the debilitating pain afterwards…it means it’s working! [Maniacal laughter] But most of all, I like the post-class high. Following such frenetic exercise, it’s a
completely different sensation to yoga. But like yoga, it’s a feeling that you’ve done something incredibly healthy for your body and mind that you actually found, dare I say it, kinda fun. Yes, yes, I just spent the entire post complaining about it, but that’s what the people expect. Would you prefer I had just talked about how awesome it was and how awesome I am for doing it this whole time? Oh, and it is, as you can imagine, an equally great albeit less meditative form of stress relief. As for the bonus pilates class,…meh. To me, it just feels like unhealthy yoga with a lot (A LOT) of props. It just doesn’t give me happy-joy-joy feelings at the prospect of going back.
So, it’s decided; my road to physical fitness shall be traveled via the Asian arts. Or, rather, the Western bastardization of ancient Asian art forms…whatever.