I need to give you some background. There was a time when I was an in-shape, stud-athlete, in-her-prime physical specimen. I played any sport with ease. Well, except maybe soccer. Soccer was hard. But, any other sport came naturally, and I was uber competitive, so I was driven to be the best. Even if I wasn't the best, it certainly would not have been for lack of trying. I played softball and baseball for 31 years. In super -competitive A/B leagues in Houston, TX, for crying-out-loud. I would show up to ballparks and reps from other teams waited to see if they could get me to play for them that night to fill in for other players. Three or four games a night, two to three nights a week was not uncommon.
In college, I was the girl the guys called when they were one guy short for whatever pick-up game they were playing.....volleyball, football, basketball, baseball. I played softball on a men's league team.
So, when I tell you I know what it is to be athletic and in-shape, I know where-of I speak.
Fast forward to when I got married. I decided to hang up my glove. I moved across Texas and took a desk job. It is amazing how fast your body can fall apart under such circumstances.
I decided recently that I had had enough. I know what it is to feel good....and I ain't feeling it. Unfortunately, I know myself. While I will run all day after a ball, or to prevent someone else from getting a ball, I HATE a standard workout. Running for no purpose? ANATHEMA. Push-ups, sit-ups? BORING. I need something that engages the competitor in me.
Little Sunshine has been taking Karate, and she looked like she was having so much fun, and it didn't look like something I would be bored with, and I would get to hit things - BONUS. I talked to the instructor at the dojo and asked if they had (and I quote) "an old fat lady class?" He said, come one evening in workout wear, he thought I would enjoy it, they had people of all ages and fitness levels. He'd even let me try it for free.
Ok, great. But, then just as I had my head in the right place, came all the roadblocks. I had a scare from the doctor and had to have some ultrasounds and other tests. Finally, the doctor decided I was ok. Then, I showed up one night and chickened out. I saw all the other people and they were not of "all ages" and "all fitness levels". Then, I got sick with my annual sinus issues (thank you cotton harvest.) Then I got a cold and was a mucus-generating machine.
Finally, today I decided was the day.
I planned. Truly planned. I lay out my workout pants and shirt so that when I got home I couldn't claim I couldn't find them.
I spent all day saying positive reinforcement like, you can do this, Brenda. You know how to be an athlete. Just do it. And then I would follow it up with negative threats. (Which mostly involved self-deprecating name-calling that I shall spare you.) And then positive encouragement.
I had dinner planned, fixed and consumed early. Taco Tuesday, if you are curious. I took my cold medicine to hopefully keep my coughing in check.
I changed, gathered up my bag and told Little Sunshine to get in the car.
I watched her lesson and at the very last possible moment, I took a deep breath, and I went up to the counter and asked for the release form to try the workout session. Little Sunshine came out and said, "You are really going to do it this time?" (Thanks, kid.) I handed her my purse and my phone and said, "Yep. Hold my purse."
I strode confidently down the hallway to the door of the gym floor. I took my place in line and lifted my chin with confidence. (I have always felt that you should fake it 'till you make it.)
The instructor told us to run laps. Ok, no problem. I ran laps. The floor is covered with cushioned mats. So, running was not too bad. No knee or hip-shock issues. This may be doable!
Next came pushups and sit ups. As I have admitted, not a fan. But I did them.
Then squats. I've always been supernaturally strong in the legs, courtesy of my genetics. (My poor Irish ancestors couldn't afford a mule to pull the plow, so it would appear they used the kids. Never Indian leg wrestle with a member of my family.) I was breathing fairly hard at this point, but still hanging in there.
Then the masochistic son of Satan decided we needed more pushups. But not normal ones. hands in triangle, nose to floor, offset hands (both sides), hands wide, hands below shoulders. Ten of each of about 5000 styles. I'm pretty sure I am forgetting some. I am also pretty sure that I lost the ability to count due to the lack of oxygen I was experiencing. There is no way I did all of them.
Then, we had to pair up. The partner stood directly over you with their feet under your armpits, facing your feet. You had to lift your legs up and they would push them down. So, I had a great view of some guy's butt that i did not know. I have a thing about personal space....and there is no reason someone I do not know should be that up in my business. Even worse, when we had to switch and I had to stand over him, I spent half the time praying that I wouldn't cough and pee in his face. (I have had two children, this is a reality most women can relate to.)
Finally, about the time I thought I was going to die, he decided we were warmed up. I was told to go with the Krav Maga group. (If I understood correctly, this is a form of Israeli martial arts.)
I thought, Ok, if I can catch my breath, now maybe we will get to the fun part.
He paired us up, and I was odd woman out. He decided he would be my partner. This is not good....it's kind of like taking a class where the instructor wrote the book. Sigh.
He grabs a big pad and explains that he wants everyone to punch the bag their partner was holding, and when he said drop, we were to drop all the way to the floor and then pop back up. He looks at me and says, just throw some punches and then I'll work with you on technique.
I am the daughter of a boxer. I know how to throw a punch. I was, however, worried a bit about my ability to "drop and pop back up". I mean, I could utilize gravity for the drop part, but gravity was going to be my enemy on the popping back up part. We began, and he (rightfully so) had assessed my fitness level and decided he did not need to worry about bracing for my punches. He was wrong. While my fitness level stinks, and I was in sore need of an oxygen mask at this point, I am still strong as a horse. After my first couple punches set him back on his heels, he put his shoulder into it. Then he said, "Drop".
There is no "Drop" in my body. Ergo, there is no "pop back up" in my body. I think he may have rolled his eyes. I was tempted to punch him in the face and tell him to respect his elders.
Next he put us in threes. I was teamed with a couple young ladies (at least 10-15 years my junior), who were obviously at a better fitness level than I. The objective here was that one person had to hold the bag, while the other two had to fight to see who could punch it more. Losers had to do pushups.
Now we were talking. 1. I operate best with a clear target/objective. 2. I was very motivated to NOT do any more pushups. This is exactly what I am born to do. I threw my elbows, shoved, hip-checked and punched like my life depended on it. In the midst of battle I gave no thought to the fact that my heart was about to burst, and my lungs were on fire. I had been given an objective, my mission was clear, they were the enemy. I AM WOMAN, HEAR ME ROAR. After both those girls picked themselves up off the floor, somewhat ashamed that a woman of my age and obviously bad fitness level had laid them flat, I found myself bent over, unable to breathe and with the room spinning at an alarming rate.
For the first time since my old coaches in high school ran us until we dropped, I felt nauseous from working out. I told the instructor, gotta go! I wobbled (my legs were very iffy at this point) to the ladies bathroom. Dizzy, cold-sweats, racing heart, inability to catch my breath, I determined that it was quite possible that I was going to die on the bathroom floor of a dojo. Not how I had envisioned the end. I hear a knock on the door, and a timid, "Mama? Are you alright?"
Oh yeah. I had forgotten that Little Sunshine was there and witnessing her mother's demise. "Yes," I said, "Just give me a minute."
I finally managed to open the door and let her in. The poor thing held my glasses while my dinner reappeared. She patted my back and said, "Maybe we should leave now, and when we get home you lay down and I will bring you anything you need."
Thank you, my sweet child. I'll double your portion of my will.
Finally, I get to the point that I think I might be able to drive, and we leave. I motion to the instructor that I was leaving. Little Sunshine carried my purse, got out my keys, and I admit at one point I considered letting her drive. But, she can't reach the pedals. Note to self, bring Number One Son next time. He can reach the pedals.
I just sit in the car for a moment, not turning it on. Just pondering the levels to which I have allowed myself to sink physically, and Little Sunshine reaches over and pats my shoulder again. "Maybe you should not do this, mama. Maybe we'll start slow at home and see if someday you can work up to this."
Thanks for the wisdom, girl-child, (and the vote of confidence) but couldn't you have told me that before I put myself through such a humiliating experience.
So, tomorrow will be interesting. I have already found that my legs are so wobbly, I can only walk with locked-knees. My fingers move now, but I can tell my shoulders and arms will be weak from the excessive push-ups. I am not sure I'll be able to feed myself, so that may be a bonus. I know I definitely won't want tacos.
It's almost three hours later and my heart still has not returned to its normal resting rate. I may have to delay my plans of obtaining my blackbelt. Perhaps I should follow Little Sunshine's advice and start with a more realistic goal more appropriate for a middle-aged woman of my fitness level. Something that does not involve pushups.