Vax 1 and 2 done. I’m restless. I’m ready to rejoin the world and that means a new gym. Virtual classes had gotten really old about November. I’d come fast out of the gate back in April 2020 but after six or seven months I had had it with watching a screen in my bedroom trying to adapt and modify my environment to get the full work-out experience. The work-outs had stopped working out. I was bored, unmotivated and deflated from trying to stay in shape alone.
Are you like me? Do you need a community? Because more than anything I missed being in a community of women-and sometimes men- in a room dedicated to exercise. A room with mirrors and weights and balls and bands. A room with an instructor telling me what to do, counting up, counting down, adjusting and encouraging. Two weeks later I’m there.
‘Hi. I’m Liz. I signed up for the free introductory basic barre class.”
Maggie welcomes me with a smile beneath her mask. She’s young but almost everyone is young to me now. With seven other women of various shapes and ages we begin the class. And just like that I’m hooked again.
I look in the mirror of the first class. Yup, the oldest again but that’s okay. I’ve gotten used to it. But oh wow there have been some new ‘personal’ developments over my past year of -let’s call it for what it was-inertia. The upper arms are flappier than ever. When did my armpits start to sag? I didn’t even know armpits could sag but there it is.
“Down an inch, up an inch. Stay in the tuck.”
My legs shake and boy, does she move fast through the moves. I struggle lifting the three-pound weights but I manage. It’s okay if I can’t press them completely straight over head, I’m almost there. I glance around the room. Good God these girls are fit. Why were exercise, strength and fitness never a priority when I was in my twenties? I lament the missed opportunities of my youth but I celebrate that I’m here. I celebrate my acknowledgement that I need stimulation, I need to look around, I need music and noise and… there’s that word again- a community.
The final segment of the class is abs. I struggle with any floor moves because I cannot get down on the ground. Arthritis has seen to that. But Maggie is not having it. She doesn’t accept what I’ve come to accept: I can’t do that. In a gentle way she suggests I try.
“Here. Hold on to the bar. Lower yourself down. Slowly, yes… look! you did it! “
For the first time in twenty years I am sitting on the ground. And somehow I get through the sit ups, the leg lowerings, the twists to the left and to the right. I suck at them all but I get through it. I feel a surge of.. what? pride? accomplishment? exhaustion? Yes, definitely exhaustion but accomplishment and pride are in there too.
It’s been quite a year folks. I won’t lie, I feel lucky that me and mine have come through pretty unscathed. Physically, financially, emotionally, we’ve remained pretty intact. But dammit I missed the gym and double dammit it’s good to be back.
I look in the mirror again and wonder, am I ready for this? As we go through the warm-up I feel a HELL YEAH I’M READY! What about these armpits though?