I love working out.
My kind of working out, that is.
Just to be clear, I’m not talking about running, or yoga, or doing one of those Jillian Andrews torture you skinny videos.
I’m talking about going to the gym, at a prescheduled time, and engaging in a group fitness class of my choosing. The musical kind. Like Zumba and other Zumba-like classes.
I find them motivating (the other people encourage me to keep going), challenging (not like I might die, but like I really worked up a sweat), and fun. I can’t work out if it’s not fun.
I hate sweating and I don’t like pain. I require good music, funky dance moves, and an uplifting group to help me endure the basic elements of a good workout. I can’t be bothered to get all sweaty and gross, and have my arms be achy and my legs heavy otherwise.
But to achieve this ideal situation, I have to subject myself to one teeny bit of torture: the full wall of mirrors.
Those things are like a gift and a curse. Sure, they can help you improve your form, but they are also spectacular at reminding you why you haven’t worn anything other than a baggy t-shirt you dug out of your husband’s drawer and sweatpants for the past six months.
As per usual, I’m going to blame motherhood. Specifically, multiple acts of human creation. That is what has led to the development of what I now call my body.
Let’s be clear here, I am a strong lady. I have good musculature. I’m not as overweight as I once was. I spend enough time in the gym to know that my physical fitness is above average. Like I can take you in a dance fight and run fast enough to get away if you try to actually punch me. But, no matter how fit I am, this post-multiple-babies body is just not the same.
It hangs differently, it sags more, the skin of it has stretches and bends and divots and curls I never even imagined were possible. I was wholly unprepared for the effect that pregnancy combined with age would have on my body.
I’m not saying I hate it (fine, some days I do, I hate it), but it does become visually apparent every time I step into the gym and find my place in front of that mirror.
So thank you, mirror. The lessons you teach are impactful in so many ways. Lessons like these…
1. You will need a real sports bra. Real talk, quit playing games with that bra cami. That thing is a joke, and I’m authentically fearful that one of your stray lady bits is going to reach around and slap me in the face while we’re salsaing. I can’t survive that. You can’t make me. Buy yourself a real bra and wear it to every class.
2. Everything wiggles. Everything. Like your belly and your arms and your thighs — of course, everyone knows that. But what do you know about having a wiggly back? I can feel the aftershocks of it when I come to rest, and it is very disconcerting. Also, it eats my shirts. I’ve discovered these form-fitted, sweat-wicking workout camis that seem to prevent it from devouring my clothing. Like workout Spanx, but they don’t cut off your circulation or make you feel like you might pass out. Note: if you have boobs, wearing this does not exempt you from also wearing a sports bra. Double bra-ing will need to occur.
3. You may pee a little. I suggest you go before you leave your house and then again when you arrive. Jumping jacks will be your downfall, and no amount of post partum Kegels are going to make it not so. Pro tip: casually remark to bystanders about how sweaty you get in class. They won’t suspect a thing.
4. Some of the dance moves you used to do with no difficulty will nearly incapacitate you now. Take twerking for example. There was a time when I spent many nights a week in LA clubs shaking what my mama gave me to bass beats, no problem. Mid-’90s I was on that. We called it what it was: booty dancing. Fast forward 10 — 15 — holy crap, 20 years, and they call it twerking, but it’s essentially the same thing. Now, after just an hour working on my technique for J.Lo’s Booty, I couldn’t get out of my chair smoothly for a week. In fact, I fell out of my car in front of Wegmans in part because of my twerk-injury (also because I’m clumsy, and it was raining, and that slippery little part on my car, with my sandals, recipe for disaster, let me tell you). Try explaining that one to the chiropractor. Well, I was twerking and…
5. You won’t care what everyone else thinks about your groove. Once you get into it and let that music poor out of you, that 20-year-old silently judging you won’t mean a thing. Neither will the one standing behind you in class. Might even teach her a few things about maturity and what it means to love your peeing, falling, back aching, belly wiggling, old self not only in spite of, but actually because of the battle scars your beautiful life has left on you. Work it girl.
Related post: 13 Ways Working Out Is Different After Having Kids