It is always a little intimidating walking into a new workout facility. It’s as if you have “newbie” tattooed on your forehead. And right out of the gates, I committed several faux pas. I was cheerfully greeted by Felicity, who would be my instructor that day. The studio was impeccable and shiny. In my earnestness I marched on in, only to be scolded immediately. “No, no, no, we don’t wear our shoes past this line.” I looked down to see a white line painted on the floor, which I had crossed. “Please take your shoes off, and deposit your neatly folded clothing in one of the cubicles, provided at no extra charge.” I was relieved to have the authorized equipment; no-slip socks and logoed leak-proof water bottle. Mercifully, they were included in the auction package.
I filled out the necessary paperwork. In case of emergency contact my beloved husband. Yes, I have insurance. Yes, I have a medical directive authored by a reputable attorney, signed by me, and notarized. No, please don’t let my beloved husband pull the plug. No I don’t carry my own defibrillator. With that taken care of, I entered the studio.
I was instructed to grab a small mat and towel (this equipment was also complimentary). The towel was to be placed upon the mat, so that no part of my skin or clothing came into contact with the mat at any time during the workout. As the studio began to fill, I wished the auction package had included a gift certificate for Lululemon. I hadn’t realized how much workout clothing had changed in the ten years since I had last purchased eight pairs of yoga pants, jog bras and tank tops at Target. Unlike my workout bras and tops designed specifically to smash everything down with force, the new tops, pushed everything up, and in, and included varying degrees of padding. I had to be careful not to stare in bright-eyed admiration. Not only were these women stylishly outfitted, but they all looked like they had come straight from the salon. Everyone’s hair was down, highlighted, and cascading in beautiful long curls and waves that appeared to be straight off the red carpet. I marveled at the Coppertone tans they all sported during the dregs of winter in Seattle. And as they blinked, I felt the air begin to move, generated by the fans attached to their eyelids, giving them all a decidedly “My Little Pony” look. I wondered if their makeup was going to run once we all began to sweat.
I needn’t worry. This workout was designed to lift your bum and tone every inch of your body without ever breaking a sweat. It consisted of really tight jerking movements and gesticulations. For the entire hour we were yelled at to squeeze our nether regions. I had a hard time figuring out how to breathe without relaxing my lungs and nasal passages, which was strictly forbidden.
I felt horribly guilty that the instructor had to spend an inordinate amount of time continuously adjusting and readjusting my posture, pulling my shoulders back, and then punching me in the belly to get me to “suck it in”. I wondered if I had internal bleeding, and I tried to explain to her that “I was sucking it in. That was as far as my belly could suck, and that Spanks were invented for a reason”. Talking back was a really poor decision, as her wrath reigned down upon me. I felt like I was Richard Gere in “An Officer and a Gentleman”, being berated and humiliated by Louis Gossett, Jr. I wondered if my instructor was trying to win an Academy Award, as I began looking for the hidden cameras. Luckily she did find time to pile on some lavish praise to her star students. A few were in training to become instructors, so they too could join the “Cult of Perfection”. If I wanted to continue coming to this class, it was going to take a substantial investment in hair, makeup, workout gear, and plastic surgery.
I admit, the workout was fatiguing, but being of the old school, it’s just not a workout unless I sweat profusely. I was curious what these women did to supplement this workout, so at the end of class, I asked Felicity, “What do you gals do for cardio?” Felicity looked at me with a mixture of sympathy and disdain, and like a trained flamenco dancer, made a sweeping gesture with her arm from the top of her perfectly coiffed head to her tiny waist. “Oh no! Only barre! Absolutely only barre! How do you think we get these bodies?”