Archive for the 'exercise' category

February 24th, 2012

» glutton

In school, I always hated gym. A self-conscious kid to begin with, gym class focused all the unease, the fear, the shame that roiled in my young, chubby heart. I was awkward and desperately afraid of failing, so I wouldn’t try. I would hang back, hook up with the kid with asthma or a broken leg. It was torture, feeling on display. Now Presenting: The girl who can’t do a chin-up! The slowest to run the mile! Shy girl takes a soccer ball to the face!

It’s strange, then, that I now find myself spending Friday evenings at a gym. I still haven’t quite shaken my dread of them; every time I walk in there the uncomfortable preteen inside of me cringes. But I go — and, more than that, I like it.

It feels good, to push myself. To be exhausted and wobbly at the end of an hour. It’s a drop-in class, and everyone who drops in is incredibly nice and supportive and fun, and the personal trainer doesn’t mind when I talk about setting the weight sleds on fire. So it’s nice that I’m doing something nice for myself. Unicorns and rainbows, tralala. It has a lovely way of turning a bad day around. But, if I’m being honest, what’s really doing the trick about it on those bad days is the chance to be mean to myself.

I push until I burn, and then I dig in. I think about being fat and wimpy and sad, and I push harder. It feels good, gritting through the pain. Grinding out another rep. Staying, just barely, on my feet. It feels like a weird sort of justice. Like something I deserve as much as something I’m earning.

I’m not sure what the point is, really. I feel like I should be sad about it, should try to disown the impulse to beat myself up. But I’m not. I’m glad to have the ability to push through. I’m still proud that I can go and do, that I can go to a gym and set aside the worry about being judged. Some days I’m mean about it, but ultimately I’m doing something nice for myself, and in the end that’s what I’m going to count.

June 23rd, 2011

» no joke

Last fall I bought a hula hoop from a woman at my barn. I never hooped as a kid — I remember not being able to, but I have to confess I don’t have a memory of ever having tried. It’s entirely possible I just decided it wasn’t going to work and never touched one. Anyhow, this hoop I got is sized and weighted for adults. The bigger and heavier a hoop is, the easier it is to keep it going. (Well, to a point, obviously.) So, I got an adult hoop, and I learned to use it. And then I got another one: a little smaller and heavier, with water in it, strictly for “ab blasting”. I used both of them a little (a very little) over the winter, standing in the one place in the middle of my living room where I could hoop without destroying anything, but that was it.

About a month ago, a friend and I went for a Sunday stroll around Lake Harriet, and ran into a hooping meet-up. Just a bunch of folks who’d claimed some green space by the bandshell and were hooping it out in some of our first spring sunshine. So we grabbed spare hoops and joined in, laughing and making idiots of ourselves. I got hooked again.

The hoop group meets every week; they call it Hoopla. Two weeks ago I dragged a couple friends, and this past Tuesday I overcame all my co-dependent tendencies and went all by my very own self. There was a tornado watch and the sky looked a little ominous, but we were treated to patches of sunshine, the most refreshing misty rain, and a big old rainbow. The people were awesome and welcoming, and I learned a lot. I tried some things I didn’t think I’d be able to do; some of them I could and some of them I couldn’t (yet). Number one project right now: knee hooping. It looks so easy when other people do it, but damn, knee hooping is no joke:

knee hooping, day after

So I’m sidelined for a few days (at least until my hands heal a little). I think I’ll spend the time hunting for good instructional videos on YouTube. I WILL get this knee thing down, dammit…

June 19th, 2011

» meet cute

I don’t believe in love at first sight, but first moments often stick in my mind. I love them: the possibility; the unknown; the dream of remembering them in a month, a year, ten years; actually remembering them later, looking back at when you were strangers. The man stepping into the coffee shop, the sweep of his lifting eyes and the little smile blooming. Knowing nothing, then, about the way morning light looks caught in the curve of his ear. Another turning from the marina, phone in one hand, the other fingers lifting in a wave; his whole body tilting a little, smiling. And me, having never pressed my face into the comfort of his neck. A mop of tangled hair. A body on the dancefloor. A slightly tip-toed step. A faint blush over a bookcase.

People fade off into the past; they change, they grow, they slip away. It’s the present I like best lately. Being in the place where the future is a distant, half-dreamed, unrolling promise. No pressing concern, no gaping black nothing.

“Now” seems easiest to find when I’m moving. So I keep moving, pushing. I walk, I hoop, I ride. When I dance it is for hours: I wring sweat from my hair and move, trancelike, all variations on the same motions, the music spooling through, playing me from inside my bones. This afternoon I pulled my bike out for the first time this season. I was a little apprehensive, worrying I’d've forgotten everything, but it was back in moments: the sweetness of the wind, the easy spin of the pedals, tires singing. A leisurely Sunday ride, slower than I used to go; I was surprised to discover, later, that we covered over 10 miles, quite by accident.

Today I ache a little: a hike yesterday, a long night of dancing, the afternoon bike ride, a little hooping. It feels good, this hurt. It feels like a new beginning.

February 18th, 2011

» all downhill from here

Apart from some time in Missouri and England during college, I’ve lived in Minnesota my whole life. Minnesotans are stereotypically nice, polite folks who love their outdoor sports. We even find ways to do them during our long (long, long) winters to keep from going batty (though a lot of them are a bit batty themselves: ice skating, broomball, that tidy teapot sweeping one whose name now escapes me…ah, curling!). Pretty much everyone I know outside of my immediate family skis, or has at least gone skiing at some point in the past. Me? Never. Not even cross-country.

Admission: The thought of skiing kind of scared the crap out of me. I’m not super athletic or coordinated, I’m easily embarrassed, and I really hate falling down. Not that I fall down a lot, but I have a real fear of it. So, a few years ago I put skiing on my bucket list. Every so often I — it’s not exactly right to say I choose it because it’s not such a studied, conscious thing, but — every so often I find myself having decided to do something that scares me. It just feels right; it feels like I need to push that envelope a little bit. Leap out of that airplane or scuba dive or take Everett over the bathtub jump. The past three winters have started with me declaring my One Winter Goal: Go Skiing. And the past three winters I have not come anywhere close to going skiing. So this winter? I said I am not going skiing! I’m going tubing. So, of course I haven’t gone tubing or sledding at all — but yesterday? Totally went skiing.

* * *

And wow, I started writing this post on Monday, and here it is Friday. I meant to talk all about skiing, about how weird and hard it is, about lying in bed that night feeling like my feet were still sliding (similar to how I felt that time I went to Valley Fair and rode the Wild Thing a dozen times in a row, and couldn’t sleep that night because every time I closed my eyes I felt like I was falling, and so I laid there for hours worrying I’d given myself some weird permanent case of roller coaster vertigo). I wanted to talk about falling down again and again, about just lying there laughing helplessly with my legs all twisted up, about not getting it at all but trying anyway, about getting up again, and again, and again. I can’t ski, not at all; my legs were shaking after the first thirty minutes, but I kept cheerfully, doggedly trying for hours. I felt at a complete loss the entire time. I’m glad I went. I kind of want to try it again.

(By contrast, last night I could not for the life of me get a leg yield that was prompt, correctly flexed, square, and forward — I was always losing one of those things. Poe never really felt soft enough. I felt like an utter failure and left the lesson near tears. So, being cheerful about being terrible is a work in progress, I guess.)

My body has been re-living Sunday since then. I was so sore early in the week that it was waking me up in the middle of the night whenever I turned over, my muscles aching and my back popping like bubble wrap. I feel old. And good. I’m moving in about a week (ugh, the packing), and my new apartment has a pretty awesome work-out facility, plus I will have NO neighbors beneath me (Yay!). I’m really looking forward to getting back into an outside-of-riding exercise routine. Hopefully being fitter next year will help me not suck so much.

August 12th, 2010


I really need to write a Poe update but I know once I start it’s going to just ramble on for ages, and the thought is a bit exhausting.

Last month, on a bit of a whim, I bought a Groupon thing for a month of unlimited yoga classes. (I had a vague idea of what Groupon was all about but hadn’t checked it out before Jocey sent me one last month. We bought coupons [groupons I guess?] to a new yummy-sounding falafely place nearby — which has now of course closed. So much for that. [We did automatically get the Groupon refunded. Still, I'd've rather had falafel.]) Last night I finally went to sign up and give it a whirl — I got out of work a little early, so had just enough time to ride and make it to the intro class at 7. I’d called ahead of time to find out what I should bring, and the woman on the phone mentioned a towel. Towel? I thought. No, I don’t need that. I’ve done yoga at home before and yeah I sweat, but not like I need a towel-off in the middle of it. They do have some hot yoga at this studio but the intro class said specifically that it wasn’t hot.

Yeah, wish I’d brought a towel. I think I was dripping from my kneecaps. I didn’t even know my kneecaps could sweat. It was great, though, and I’m really looking forward to going back. I even have a new favorite pose: Gorilla. You put your feet on your hands, toes just nudged up against your wrists, and straighten your legs to your comfort level. I hold an unbelievable amount of tension around my shoulderblades and this pose stretched at all of that. I could’ve stayed in it for hours. (Well, probably not. But it felt amazing.) One of my other favorite things about yoga is your first downward-facing dog versus your last. I love what a difference you can see after an hour.

The part I did not like was the moment of silence after the instructor invited us to dedicate our practice that evening. I’ve been really missing my grandma lately; I’m not at all okay to be thinking about it in public, and once I’ve started it’s hard to stop. So there’s that.

And now, work.