Once a month, the usual frustrations that I have with my body (flabby post-baby belly, thighs two inches bigger than they've ever been, loose skin on my underarms--you know how it goes) become absolutely unbearable. At this time of the month (you know what time I'm talking about), I literally crawl in my skin. I am disgusted with my lack of willpower. I am angry that I am not stronger and fitter. And this feeling extends beyond my own body, too--it radiates out to my life (not where I expected it to be by the time I was 30), my job (too many papers to grade, emails to return, administrators who need to be told how to do their jobs, colleagues complaining about everything I've just listed here), my financial situation (not where I expected it to be by the time I was 30), my house (not as clean as I ever want it to be), and everything else I can think of. Dinner? Doesn't taste the way I expected. Grocery store? Too crowded. Commute? Too long, too slow, and too many insane drivers.
Luckily, this all passes in less than a few days, and everything is back to Pleasantville. Everything, that is, except my intensely sore muscles that continue to ache no less than a week after I put them through Hell. By this, I mean a fitness class.
Yes, it's true: I belong to a gym. Not just any gym, but The Fitness Edge, which is an interesting place to work out. Half of the people I see there look like I do--straight from work, hair thrown up, random t-shirt and shorts pulled on at the last minute while running out of the locker room to get a good spot in class, and the other half of the people in the gym loiter about for what feels like hours, showing off their new weight-lifting gloves, perfectly coiffed hair, and overdone make-up.
But, I digress. Despite the mix of clientele and the scary-buff personal trainers who emulate Jillian Michaels and Billy Blanks, the fitness instructors are refreshingly real and down-to-earth. Usually, the classes I take are a great workout, but are easy to "cheat," meaning, if I really wanted to slack off, I could. I could stand up halfway through a squat set and "shake it out," or cop out during a shoulder set and stretch. That is, until I stepped into a Flex class (sort of a free-for-all weight/cardio combo class) on Monday evening.
Now, every teacher has a bad day--or two--or three--or month. But on this day, our instructor decided that our class was an episode of The Biggest Loser and that she was Jillian Michaels. Right after we had grabbed our weights, warmed up, and just when we were about to get started on the first set, she asked the class "Do you want to go outside?" Without waiting for an answer, she herded all thirty of us out to the parking lot and lined us up for walking lunges. Halfway out, my butt started cramping. "Keep going!" the instructor barked. Halfway back, my legs started giving out. I kept lunging. When she ordered the group to set up our mats in the parking lot, I hustled. When she told us to start squatting, I squatted. Which means, there was no stopping, no shaking, no stretching in the middle of a set. This woman actually made the class stop mid-set and start over because we weren't doing burpees in sync.
I remember thinking at the time, this is awful--and this is great--and this teacher should pretend to be Jillian Michaels ALL the time--but now, two days later, as I hobble from class and class, get in and out of my chair like a geriatric person, and wince every time I bend my leg, I am wishing I either made it to a class more than once a month, or that I'd gone easier on myself this week. Hopefully, next time I feel disgusted with myself, my life, or my house...I will give the house the beating it deserves, and save myself some pain.