Thursday, September 10, 2009

Boot Camp

So a friend of mine is teaching a monthlong “boot camp” exercise class this month right down the street from my work. It’s her first time to do it, and she recruited people to join on facebook. So I thought, “Why not?” It’s close-by, I know the teacher so she can’t kill me, and I’ve been looking for that perfect jump-start to my weight loss (I’ve been using the “baby weight” excuse for far too long, as you know). A real no-brainer, right?

My friend, a former coworker, is someone who I would consider a “true” athlete. She doesn’t just hit the gym three days a week or walk in the neighborhood with the girls every now and then, she really gets down and dirty: triathlons, marathons, long-distance bike rides, you name it. She’s that adorable lady every woman wants to be: She eats perfectly, drinks her water, has zero body fat, is bubbly and always smiling, and actually loves working out. She is the woman all women want to be but very few have the drive to become. Give up sodas and cheese and bread and red meat and wine and actually have to eat our broccoli and squash? No way! For the past two years, I have been the “No Way!” woman: unwilling to give up the things I loved and seemed to depend upon to get through they day. Despite that, I figured I was ready to go. Who needs to build up to it? I was ready! So I signed up.

Did I know what I was getting into? I thought so. Did I realistically think I could do it? Why not, I’m an athlete (or used to be). Would I stick to it this time and not bug out? Of course. Am I ready to give up many of the things I love so that I can become that “perfect woman” who eats right, loves exercise, and is the picture of health? Yes? OK, yes.

My first class was this past Monday, and a group of us met on a tennis court in a local park. I scanned the group and immediately realized that I was not the only one who needed to get into shape. (Initially, I was worried everyone in the class would be world-class athletes just trying to fit in some extra workouts during training for whatever major race they had coming up.) We all have our own issues, and we’re all there to get healthy no matter what our shape. So I felt pretty good about it.

First, we began to warm up. To me, warming up means sitting on the ground stretching, maybe taking a short walk around the park chatting with the group and getting to know one another. In this class, warming up was more like the calisthenics you see in football training. Ten, then 20, then 30, then 40, then 50 jumping jacks was our warm-up. Then on to the workout: bicep lifting (two eight-pounders, not the normal 2.5- to five-pounders) followed by football feet as fast as you can followed by triceps lifting (again, eight-pounders) followed by left-right lunge plies followed by up-down, up-down, right knee, left knee, followed by . . . well, you get the drift. It was nonstop! (Only one person threw up.) The premise of this training (what my friend kept reminding us as she also reminded us how much we were “loving it!”) is that you can do anything for two minutes. Yeah, but two minutes followed by two minutes followed by two minutes followed by two minutes and on and on and on for more than an hour! Needless to say, I survived the first class.

The next day, I wasn’t too sore when I got up, and I was pumped! But as the day wore on, the pain crept up on me, and in places I didn’t realize I even had muscles! Walking stairs was next to impossible. Getting up and down out of my office chair required a grunt and then a sigh. Lifting my one-liter water bottle in an attempt to get in the half-body-weight amount of water required before class drew a sharp pain in my shoulder. But I made it through the day and headed to Class No. 2 pretty positive.

Ahhhh, Class No. 2. What can I say about Class No. 2? I have never, and I mean never, worked that hard in my entire life! Growing up I danced and played softball, and I played ball in leagues during college and later in life, as well. I once trained for a marathon but got pneumonia and wasn't able to do it. And, for the most part, I have always been an active person. So I really thought I might have a leg up in this “boot camp.” Oh how deluded one can be. Did I mention that this was only Class No. 2? We sprinted and did frog leaps and lunged and ran backward and ran with a bungee cord around our waists with a partner providing resistance and did push-ups and diamond push-ups and triceps dips and Pilate’s abs and rope-pulling abs and, well, some other “challenges.” I have never been so tired and sore in my life!

So, did I really know what I was getting into? Absolutely not. Am I glad I made this decision? Absolutely (I think). I just hope at 6 o’clock I’m able to get up from my desk (period, just get up from my desk), change my clothes without my coworkers hearing me scream in pain, walk down to my car without my legs collapsing, steer my car a mile down the road without my biceps twitching in pain, and get out of the car without bursting into tears at the thought of what lies ahead in Class No. 3.

It’s going to be a long month.