pump up the volume

It’s called body pump, and that means you stand in a room full of people–a surprising
mix of both women and men, which is totally sexist of me, because why shouldn’t
a man want to lift weights up and down rapidly in time to Kelly Clarkson
instead of grunting in front of a mirror with other greasy, buffed up fellows?–and
you have a barbell, and you listen to a lady who can do pushups on her knuckles yell at you about how this is YOUR time and THE TIME IS NOW and LET’S GO GO GO, WOO! and you lift the weight many times in rapid succession and you put it back
down and you feel like you’re going to die, a little bit, but you don’t because
you are strong and the music is banging and you have never felt like this before. “Like this” is a combination of nausea, horror, exhilaration and a strong and abiding wish for death.

I am so weak! It’s ridiculous how weak I am. Everyone in the class had giant
weights on their barbells. I started off with giant plates, and I thought I was
so cool and tough, strutting back to my mat–check out the size of my weight,
ladies. It is so round, so large, so delicious. It is going to be the death of me, and isn’t that sexy? Watch when I pause, gasp, tremble, and try not to throw up on my gym shoes after a series of
dead lifts. Why are they called dead lifts? Because they want you dead.


I scurried back over to the weight rack, in between songs, to fetch lighter,
tic-tac sized wimpy plates for tragic losers (which required a complicated
centrifugal kind of maneuver to get my arms up and swinging because I could not
actually raise them voluntarily) and scurried back and tried not to notice how
the 85 year old woman was using fifty pounds on each end, while I would have
been so much happier to have just used the bar. But my pride could not handle
that.

So I struggled through the rest of the class with tiny, shrunken weights and I
lunged and lifted and squatted and pushed up and trembled and kept watching the
clock and was in a lot of pain and was suffering terribly but staying so brave
and pushing my way through the hurting, out through the other side where the
sky is plaid and right is wrong and upside is inside out and it is all so nice
because you can’t feel your legs anymore, and who needs legs? Not me.

Our instructor shared the Fun Tidbit that people who are getting chemotherapy
benefit from strength exercises, so if we know anyone who is getting
chemotherapy, we should tell them about this class! The music went on and on.
We lifted. And put down. And lifted. And put down. Finally the hands on the clock
came all the way around and the instructor turned the lights down and talked us
through a series of stretches, and I laid on the mat which was probably
infested with a lifetime of cooties from a lifetime of group exercise classes,
and I felt limp and a little worn out and my arms were missing as well as my
legs, and it felt fucking marvelous. Just way too lovely, far too good, entirely too awesome to be anything
but a terrible, terrible trick.

The endorphins have worn off, now, and unfortunately, I can totally feel my arms
and legs again. And my stomach muscles and my shoulders and places on my body
that I had forgotten about, and I should be dreading Wednesday, which is my
next body pump class, and–well, I absolutely am. I do not want to go. It was hard!
I hated it! I’m going to go again, of course, because you need to ride this
feeling of excitement and good-feeling and exhilaration that happens when you
remember how good it feels to exercise, to take care of yourself, to kick your
own ass and take your own name.

Tomorrow is yoga class, which I am dreading, despite having loved going, last time.
Exercise will always be full of dread for me, because motivation is hard and
getting off the couch sucks and why can’t I just sit here and be pretty? Because it won’t be pretty if I just sit here, is why.

  6 comments for “pump up the volume

  1. Mags
    March 4, 2008 at 11:15 am

    Word.

    Exercise sucks and I hate it but I do it because it makes you “pretty”.

  2. Nicole
    March 4, 2008 at 12:01 pm

    You should really not go on Wed.! I don’t mean that in the “it was awful so don’t repeat sense” I mean that in the, your muscles just took a beating and you should give them a couple days of rest and recovery sense. Any weight lifting or strength training that intense should be followed by atleast a couple days of repair. Do some cardio, take a jog, just don’t kill your muscles all over again.

  3. March 4, 2008 at 12:09 pm

    Oh, the post workout body aches…so much fun. Not. It’s a good thing endorphins are addicting though, isn’t it? I went back to my outdoor not-quite-bootcamp-because-there’s-no-yelling fitness class on Saturday and oof. Did you know there is a muscle that runs from the top of your hipbone down to your thigh? And that there are moves designed to work it out? And that two days after you do those moves your hip will feel like that of an 85 year old woman? I didn’t either, but now I do!

    But the awesome part is that I can’t wait for Monday’s class. And also, I was still able to do my Couch to 5K running last night. Kind of like the awesome part about your story is that you did that crazy class and today you can do yoga! Go you!

  4. Linds
    March 4, 2008 at 12:30 pm

    Oh, how I hate when feeling in my body returns after a rough work out. If I may offer you a piece of advice, from one rookie to another – don’t get hung up on how much weight the others are using. I am a member of the YMCA. They offer a class called Power Sculpt, where the really, really “in shape” people use the 10 lb. weights. I use the 4 lb. weights, and I use them – rather than sitting on my couch catching up on my tivo, eating pretzels and light ranch dip, which is the other option. Kudos to you for going to your class!!! I think we can all agree that working out sucks, but it makes your body healthy and strong, and that’s why we do it. Keep up the good work!

  5. Lesley
    March 4, 2008 at 2:41 pm

    Hey, good for you — you made it! Your body needs a day of rest but you can totally hit Wednesday’s class if you feel up to it.

    I remember my first BodyPump class. It was … a lot like you just described actually. That was four years ago, and I still have the weak, shaky, O-God-no-not-another-squat-I’m-so-close-to-the-ground-why-don’t-I-just-stay-there? feeling sometimes, but I love it. I love the jiggly, jello-y feeling my body has at the end of a class, and I even love the soreness in my muscles the next day.

    And I have just spent the last weekend locked in a ratty gym in San Antonio training to be a BodyPump instructor. We win!

  6. March 4, 2008 at 6:02 pm

    Oh god, I love Body Pump. I’ve been going twice a week for about 4 weeks now, and it’s positively addictive. When I don’t do it, I don’t feel like I’ve even gotten a workout any more. Keep it up, it’s worth it!

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