Here is what I know about myself and exercise: I am perhaps the world’s lousiest self-motivator. Tell me to get my ass out of bed and meet you for a workout at 6:30? I’m there. Promise myself I’ll get right up at 6:30 and hop on my elliptical trainer? I hit snooze. (Repeatedly.) Enroll me in an actual class of some sort? I won’t miss a one. Pledge to get moving even on a day when my partner has to cancel? I’ll move… right to the cabinet that the oreos are in.
It’s not that I don’t enjoy exercise. It’s that I hate exercise. With a deep and firey hatred that burns ever hotter whenever I CONTEMPLATE making my lazy self get off the couch.
When I actually DO get moving? It’s great. Invigorating! Feels wonderful! But not wonderful enough to make me do it again voluntarily! Usually!
Long ago and far away, I took kundalini yoga for several years. Classes, with other people; thereby meeting the strict Mir-approved framework for exercise which I will continue. I forget exactly how it was that I stopped taking classes, but I did. Thus ended my brief brush with regular exercise.
Now I’m in training for a long walk, and the best way to get ready for it is to–wait for it–walk. So, yes, I’m doing a lot of walking. Walking is fine and good. But I need to do OTHER types of exercise as well. It’s called cross-training, which is another word for torture.
Current circumstances dictate that my cross-training endeavors be 1) cheap, 2) time-flexible and 3) at least slightly enticing. This rules out paying to take a class or even participating with a group of some sort because most of those meet in the evenings when I need to be here with the kids. SO. I did the logical thing, and scoured the internet for workout DVDs I thought I might not hate.
My frugal eye spotted a deal on a bundle of yoga DVDs, and my conversation with myself proceeded thusly: “Self, you like yoga! Yoga is good exercise and something you don’t hate! Plus these are cheap! Buy them!” I didn’t even argue with myself. It all seemed so logical.
The thing about yoga is that saying you “do yoga” is like saying you “do exercise.” The yoga umbrella reaches far and wide, and encompasses everything from ultra-power-cardio workouts down to laying on your mat while meditating. I didn’t really know what sort of yoga I was getting. (Hint: Not kundalini, which is what I used to do.)
I popped in a DVD this morning because today was not a walking day, and I wanted to keep up the energy! Keep going with the good habits! Keep exercising! This morning’s DVD was called power yoga something-or-other. I was ready!
Well, I WAS ready. Then there were 4 ads for other workout DVDs which I wasn’t able to skip. My first clue about this routine should’ve been how the discs being hawked were all named things like “The Firm’s Power Cardio Endurance Strengthening Sculpting Orgy.” But I was sort of sleepy and not really paying all that much attention, except to note that the people in the commercial had some pretty ferocious abs.
Finally the workout I’d selected began. (I chose lower body strengthening, as if it matters.) There was a studio, an instructor, and about 8 students. The men were shirtless, and the women wore sports bras and bike shorts. It was an extremely naked bunch. Well, maybe that’s how Real Yoga People tend to work out. Okay. It’s not like they could see me in my sweats.
The instructor called out the first stance–a modified lunge–and interspersed directions for the movements with the sort of patter that makes me crazy. “Breathe deeply, breathe with your WHOLE BODY!” Yes, here I’d only been breathing with my lungs, like a fool. Thank you for showing me the error of my ways. Nevertheless, I was able to move through the stations of this mini-routine until he urged everyone to convert from the already precarious position with one leg straight out in back and arms outstretched to tipping torso and arms downward while stretching the backwards leg up to the sky. I used my whole body to breathe right before I tipped over and crashed into the coffee table.
At that point I decided to (wisely) modify the positioning and do a similar stretch on the floor, where gravity wouldn’t make me its bitch. This had the added advantage of allowing me to really focus on the television, as opposed to the sneaking glances I’d been limited to while doing my stork impression, earlier.
One of the women in the front row had a little problem. Actually, the first thing that struck me about her was that her hair was longish and down; I am suspicious of any woman with long hair who doesn’t put it up to exercise. (Likewise, if I see you jogging and you’re wearing make-up, I reserve the right to call you a vain poser in my mind. Sorry.) But while I was wondering if she knew that her sweaty hair was sticking to her neck, I noticed that she had a crotch sweat problem of impressive proportions. Niiiice. That’s what I want to see, when I’m trying to get motivated. The instructor most often moved to her to lay on a hand, while he called out the routine, too. Perhaps he was trying to let her know that if she couldn’t hold it, she should take a potty break.
The other women in the front row looked like serious yoga types. This, of course, means that two of them had long hippie hair in a single braid, and the remaining woman had very short hair. Also? They didn’t sweat. They glistened, but only slightly. Perhaps because they were feeling their inner power, as directed.
In the back row there were 3 men and one woman. I never really got a good view of the woman. In the back left corner was the Token Black Man, looking buff and beautiful and a bit bored. In the back right corner was a Very Pretty Man who modified every pose because he wasn’t very flexible. In other words, I suspect he’d never taken yoga before in his life. Next to the VPM was a man who clearly took a lot of yoga (was quite flexible), but had a bit of a belly hanging over his spandex shorts. Did you catch that? Man. Spandex. Shorts. *shudder*
While surveying this group I realized that it was, collectively, the smoothest assembly of mostly-naked people I’d ever seen. There was nary a chest hair to be found. TBM and VPM had hairless armpits in addition to bare chests. Only the guy with the bit of belly had hairy pits, and really, if not for the spandex shorts they would sort have been a welcome sight. My stretching forgotten, I stared at the screen. Are these men who wax their bodies on a regular basis? Was it a requirement for being on the DVD? Were there auditions, with groups of people being led through a workout, and the bizarre and earnest instructor wove his way amongst them urging them onward with ever-increasing intensity: “That’s it… keep reaching… go a bit further… really BREATHING up from within. Find your center and your strength… now one big anchoring inhale and SUCK THE HAIR BACK IN THROUGH THE FOLLICLES… yes… good… and arch backwards to greet the sun and start tanning… excellent.”
It really started freaking me out. So I turned it off and had a snack.
Later, in the shower, I skipped shaving my legs. In protest.