Wonder Woman in Progress
My reconnection with Pilates and newfound appreciation for workout leggings
I’m about to die. I can’t go on. I just can’t. It’s too much. Oh God, why, oh why, am I doing this? I could stop, but for some reason I keep going. Is it pride? Stupidity? Or have I lost all cognitive function and all I know is this — jumping, over and over again. To the left, to the right, legs parallel, legs scissoring, legs doing the frog, legs attempting to go over my head.
Sweet savior, please bring me some divine intervention or at the very least a natural disaster — not a big one, just a tiny one, like maybe a gas leak. Wait, is a gas leak a natural disaster? Whatever. How about if there’s just the smell of gas creating a mild panic so I can stop jumping while lying down?
Yes, you read that right. I’m plunked down flat on my back and yet I’m killing it with cardio. I know you’re thinking, “How is that possible?” Trust me, it is. But it’s kind of long story, so settle in.
It all started on a fine November morning. There was a hint of chill in the air, which meant one thing: almond horn and a hot tea from Whole Foods. To be honest, the tea is just a distraction for the almond horn. I feel badly when I go into Whole Foods for a cookie. It seems so against the healthy mantra. At the very least, a woman my age should be buying lentil beans in bulk and fair trade radicchio, not a delicious, sugary treat.
But on that day, I really needed my almond horn. My mother-in-law was on week three — or was it four? — of an extended visit, and I felt self-medicating with sugar was an appropriate prescription for a much-needed mood elevation. As I was walking to my car, with my almond horn already consumed in three bites, I noticed a Pilates studio.
Way back in the day — I’m talking I still had a toddler — I had done Pilates and liked it. Maybe, just maybe, I should give it another shot. And bonus! Less time spent at home with the MIL.
I walked in and asked if they had a class level for people with remedial coordination and the flexibility of the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz. Surprisingly, I was not shown the door or even given the slightest of side eyes. Instead, I was warmly encouraged to give it a try. I signed up for a class later that day and went home with thoughts of fitness grandeur overlaid with abject fear. I’m not a group exercise enthusiast. My body doesn’t participate well with others. I have what has been diagnosed as a “vocal colon,” and I was not gifted with any athletic acumen beyond walking upright. If you’re a kind soul thinking, “Oh my, it can’t be that bad,” please note that I have fallen down while putting on my underwear. Yes, the struggle is real.
I started slowly with Pilates. I went to the entry-level classes and learned the wonder of the reformer. The reformer is a central piece of Pilates equipment where you lie on your back and work out with all sorts of ropes, pulleys and springs. I knew that perhaps I might be sticking with Pilates when I realized I would have to do something I swore I would under no circumstances ever do: buy workout leggings.
Yep, to create a better Pilates experience, my lower half needed to go where it had mercifully not gone before: Lycra infused, skin-tight, stretchy pants. I had tried to avoid this for a month. At first, I wore my comfy, sort of boot cut, extra-large track pants, but the excess material got in the way. Then I segued to a tighter black track pant with an elastic cuff that hit mid-calf. That was kind of working until my son came home from college and started calling me “Johnny Tremain.”
“Why,” I asked him, “are you calling me that?”
“Remember the book I had to read back in elementary school about that kid during the Revolutionary War? Well, it looks like you have on pants from 1776.”
“Are you saying I’m wearing breeches?”
“Yeah. What’s up? Are you trying out for Hamilton?”
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: If you suffer from low self-esteem, don’t have children. And of course, after my son’s unsolicited opinion of my “breeches,” they were dead to me. I couldn’t be going to Pilates and running errands in pants that had a George Washington aesthetic.
This left me no choice but to buy leggings. I will not go into the shopping ordeal that created, but I will share that tears were shed and that the first time my daughter saw me in leggings, she, looking stunned and scared, whispered, “Who are you?”
The humiliation of leggings was worth it because having on the appropriate attire helped my workouts, and slowly I got more confidence. So much so that I decided I could go bravely enter the world of “cardio sculpt.” It was 50 minutes featuring something called the jump board. I was all in. Sort of.
Imagine that you’re lying down, but your feet are on a board and you’re repeatedly jumping off that board doing a myriad of feats. It doesn’t even start off easy. There’s no period where you’re being wooed. It’s full-out jumping, and then before you know it, you’re not just jumping, but you’re adding moves that I’m sure could get you an audition for a Cirque du Soleil show in Vegas.
I’m equal parts exhausted and flabbergasted. How am I doing this, and why am I not stopping? The only answer I have for both of those questions is that the jumping has somehow taken control of my brain, and I’ve become less of a human and more of a turbo Slinky. Finally, we slow down and move to the Pilates chair.
Yippee! Prayers have been answered! We’re going to a chair. Well, it looks more like a padded ottoman than a chair, but nevertheless it’s jump board-free. Up to now, I have never done the Pilates chair. All I have to say is yay for sitting.
But, wait we’re not sitting in the chair. We’re standing on it and pressing down on what you would think is a footrest but instead is some sort of weighted thingamabob that is making me have wistful memories of the jump board.
This goes on and on, from chair to jump board to weights to a piece of equipment that sounds like it’s something from the Stars Wars movies. I valiantly attempt to keep up while hoping the swear words I’m thinking don’t accidently get verbalized. When it’s all over, I’m dazed and amazed. Not even my leggings that have worked their way into a militant wedgie can spoil my feeling of accomplishment.
I did it. I may not have done it well, but I did it. To me, it was the exercise equivalent of parenting teenagers. It starts off fast without a warning and launches into all kinds of crazy. Then, just when you think you’re getting a break, it gets worse. Finally, when it’s over, you’re shocked you survived it, but know you’re a better person because of it.
So, I’m thinking with that analogy I’m kind of a Wonder Woman. I’m double-fisting teenagers and cardio sculpt all while wearing leggings. OK, perhaps Wonder Woman is kind of a stretch, but if I keep this cardio sculpt up maybe, I could totally pull off some sort of star-spangled brief. Yeah, you’re right. That’s so not happening. But what about the Wonder Woman cape? I can definitely work a cape. A cape is so forgiving, and it could be the cardio talking, but I think it would look great with leggings.