As my recent foray into Paleo eating suggests, I’ve tried (and triumphantly failed) to be healthier. A big component of that failure isn’t just that I like eating things made primarily of butter – it has to do with my woeful attempts at exercise. I regularly take classes that, had I known what I was signing up for, I never would have agreed to while sober.
Part of the blame lies with me – I tune out the instructors because I’m trying to figure out how, in a room lined with mirrors, I can pick the wedgie my workout pants give me without anyone noticing. Whenever the music starts, unsure of what to do, I flail around like my sports bra is on fire.
But the gyms and studios I frequent should also be held accountable, because the descriptions on their website are woefully vague: “energizing,” “fast-paced,” and “emphasizing strength and form” mean absolutely nothing. I’ve had naps and bowel movements that met all those criteria. But I think gyms rarely use more accurate descriptions, like “vomit in front of strangers” and “question if that’s sweat or urine on your pants,” because these might deter a more discerning customer.
To spare others from a similar fate, I’ve created new descriptions for some of these classes.
Based on the premise that if you can keep your heart operating at maximum capacity for long enough, it will eventually explode, burning, like, a shitload of calories. You will find yourself repeating the mantra – “Just one more set, and then you get to barf.” (Note: in the 80s, this exercise was called “cocaine.”)
Medieval torture to the tune of $35 an hour. If you can’t do the exercises (and unless you are in Cirque Du Soleil, you can’t), don’t worry – you’ll just fall through the machine on to the concrete below. Your face will absorb most of the impact.
Scenes from an actual class:
Thirty seconds in, and I started thinking that my patronus was the decaying body of a beached whale. I’m pretty sure every single other Lululemon-clad woman in class was a former ballet dancer who quit to become a bellybutton model. The instructor kept telling us to “Contort yourself into a position that is profoundly uncomfortable and inaccessible to most humans. Now, PULSE!” (I might be paraphrasing.) At one point we had to interact with a rubber ball in a capacity that, in certain cultures, would constitute marriage.
High-speed interval aerobics that make you feel like your little sister was selected as tribute in The Hunger Games and you had to take her place. Often taught by a lean, tattooed gazelle of a human who bounds around class like it’s a fucking meadow. Fear him. He’s from District 1.
Just save yourself the middle man and take a hammer to your knees. Alternatively called: “Now I know why hamsters eat their young.”
Because sometimes you want to lie on your back, with your legs spread at weird angles, writhing in pain. Most of the exercises seem like grotesque attempts at simulating childbirth. At some point, I may have blacked out.
This is one of the worst things I’ve experienced as a consenting adult. Great preparations are taken to replicate the conditions you’d find if you were to practice yoga inside a human body cavity for 90 godforsaken minutes. Perfect for those that enjoy passing out onto carpet that smells like a yeast infection. (Shit that the instructor actually said during class: “Take only tiny sips of water during class, and not too often. Think of it as a treat.” She described something that is ESSENTIAL TO ALL LIFE ON EARTH AS. A. FUCKING. TREAT.)
Even though the word “pump” has never been used in reference to the human body in any pleasurable way, ever, I took this class. There I learned that you don’t need proper form or supervision while weight-training when you can just herniate a disc while listening to Katy Perry. Note: You will make noises that sound like you are trying to seduce a whale.
It’s sort of like being a marionette, if the person controlling your strings was being electrocuted. By the time you figure out how to do the actual workout without strangling yourself, everyone will have moved on to another exercise that you will also suck at.
Pelvic thrusts in public, for those who wish to eliminate whatever shreds of dignity they may have left after Pilates. On the plus side, you get to relive the humiliation and peer rejection of a middle school dance as an adult.
Tracy Anderson – Arms
(Note: Tracy is the fitness sadomasochist to the stars. She has tortured Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Lopez, and Madonna.)
A series of arm exercises that, were they replicated in water, would conveniently signal to a lifeguard that you are drowning. Starts off fairly tame, and works into a crescendo of trying to dislocate your shoulder while praying that a well-intentioned neighbor doesn’t see you and call a paramedic.
Tracey Anderson – Legs
Do you remember that fairy tale about the girl who puts on a pair of enchanted shoes, and then she can’t take them off and has to dance until she dies? (Also, WTF were kids allowed to watch in the 80s?) Anyway, this workout is basically that. You hold your leg aloft and kick, ideally while crying. Complete one million repetitions, and you disappear in a puff of lavender-scented smoke and are reborn as Gwyneth Paltrow.
And this, dear friends, is why in high school I lettered in Debate, Academics, and Drama.