Worked Up


I work out most days, six or seven times a week, mostly at home. But there is a gym in my friend's apartment building with nautilus machines and this really cool mirrored room that has a TV/VCR combo hanging from the ceiling and a bunch of work out steps. So I go over there once or twice a week with her. She does the machines, and I usually slip a tape in and jack one of the steps up to medium and sort of half-ass around and hop about while TammiLee Webb is all perky and encouraging on the tube.


I love TammiLee Webb. She's so happy. Her step routines are like songs, in that you learn a bunch of moves that lead you back to a chorus of moves every time, and then you do another verse. Learning the verse parts keep me from getting too bored and the chorus is comforting in its routine sameness. And every time the chorus come up, TammiLee says, "GUESS WHAT! THAT?S RIGHT! Over the TOP!" I love the part where she says "GUESS WHAT!" I have to admit, though, that I'm not serious about it. I'm not earnest. I don't concentrate. I never get the arm moves matched up correctly with the leg moves and I don't care.


What I care about
Can I still pull off a purple mini-skirt?
Can I fit in my favorite jeans?
Can I eat this huge piece of cheesecake without feeling like Satan?


What I don't care about
Could I be a guest buffette on Baywatch?
Can I crack a walnut with my thighs?
Will I make it to the Olympics?


Tonight all that changed. Tonight I met Nikki. When I got over to the gym, Nikki was on the treadmill. Nikki was running on the treadmill. Nikki was running on the treadmill in a spandex halter top, revealing a belly you could try to bounce a quarter off of, except the poor quarter would shatter on impact. Nikki was full tilt zoom running on the treadmill, and she said to me, WHILE FULL TILT TEAR-ASS RUNNING, "Oh! You brought a tape! Are you going to do aerobics?" And I said, "Yep." And she said, not puffing or even breathing heavy as she joyously sprinted along, "Can I do it with you? I?ve only got another half a mile to go here."


So I stretched out and waited two minutes for Nikki, so she could finish her, I kid you not, THREE MILE WARM UP RUN which she does before she does step which is before she hits the machines which is before she does her floor exercises. She had a tape with her, too. It was TammiLee Webb. So we bonded over, "Oh Isn?t TammiLee DARLING," and then headed in to set up our steps.


I got one step-extender and put it under my step, making it about as high as a regular step on a staircase. Nikki got three, and made a small building. We start the tape, and I'm flailing happily along, waiting for the part when TammiLee says, "Guess WHAT! OVER THE TOP!" and I look in the mirror at Nikki. She has all the arm movements exactly right. And she's doing every move "with power" as TammiLee would say. And high impact. And I'm just sort of flolloping along beside her.


Suddenly, I start to really, really care. That terrible must-win-or-die girl competition gene kicks in. It's as if an invisible herd of men have come into the room, and I have to be the best, brightest, shiniest one. So I really hurl myself into it. I even do the stupid arm circles which I always change into curls because I think the circles look girly-girl and sissy. But Nikki is doing them, right? So now I have to do them perfectly with ballerina hands.


And I am making all these angry-sincere vows to myself. I will not skip the weight machines. I will do four hundred sit-ups after the step. I will start jogging, too, and I will throw my car keys into the ocean and only jog everywhere, I will jog to the grocery store, and not even to the CLOSE grocery store, and then I will hang all my full grocery bags from my various limbs and jog home, and I will work and work until I can break Nikki in HALF, and then, DAMMIT THEN I AM GOING TO THE OLYMPICS.


So I'm smiling at nice Nikki when we finish, thinking, "I am going to destroy you, yea unto the seventh generation," and agreeing to meet her tomorrow night to do it again because, GUESS WHAT, it's so much more FUN to do it WITH someone, isn't it, and I'm plotting about the little workout outfit I am going to buy between now and then, and how high I can reasonably jack my step without causing my heart to explode, and...and...I realize this is completely stupid. And I actually like Nikki. And she, I have to admit, is pretty darn motivating. And, quite frankly, I don't want to spend four hours a day working on my stupid abs. I want to spend four hours a day playing with my kids, and half an hour, maybe forty-five minutes tops on my stupid abs.


So I go home, tired and happy, and put on my new purple mini. And you know what? It looks just fine.