Shaping the New You

Saddle SoreR8

Judy Gruen

Endurance is not just the ability to bear a hard thing, but to turn it into glory.

—William Barclay

The jolly winter holidays led me to ply myself with much comforting food and drink. While I indulged in this munch-a-rama, my entire wardrobe shrank—in some cases, by a whole size. At first, I thought I might have just left the clothes in the dryer for too long. But then someone left the bathroom scale in a place I was sure to see it: in front of the refrigerator. Not the most tactful hint in the world, but unmistakable in its meaning.

After wasting an hour on deep relaxation exercises, I stepped on the scale and discovered that sucking in the gut while being weighed does nothing to reduce the fateful number. Whoever claimed that broken chocolate chip cookies didn't have as many calories as whole cookies was wrong—tragically wrong.

The worst punishment I could imagine was going to a spinning class. The fitness industry doesn't want this to get around, but when torture chambers have been discovered in various nefarious places, alongside the cattle prods and other painful devices, they have found two dozen recumbent bicycles and a whole slew of CDs filled with the techno-rap "music" they play in spinning classes. Heck, anybody would confess to the most heinous crimes imaginable after listening to that stuff long enough. Given the problem of prison overcrowding, why not sentence our most hardened criminals to 15 years in the nearest fitness center, where the only activity would be spinning classes? No college education, no making license plates, no new tattoos, just spinning, all day, every day. I bet you the entire federal deficit that those ne'er-do-wells would finally understand what it means to get tough on crime.

To say that I hate spinning is a huge understatement, but how could I argue with the opportunity to burn a whopping 400 calories in one hour? I hauled my bigger self to the gym and straddled the only bike left unoccupied in the class. Fortunately, this bike was in the back of the room, so that few people would notice, and perhaps pity, the unsightly panty lines showing through my Spandex pants.

The instructor was already shouting instructions: "Give me 30 seconds in a 2 o'clock position!" "Now raise the resistance and give me 60 seconds in a 4 o'clock position!" I didn't quite understand the subtle differences between where our fannies were supposed to be at 2 o'clock versus 4 o'clock. Mine would have much preferred to have been on the couch while I savored an Edith Wharton novel. But this was my penalty to pay, so I kept fiddling with the resistance lever, hovering between full aerobic capacity and cardiac arrest.

Melissa, the instructor, yelled, "Are you all feeling GREAT?" It was a rhetorical question, not allowing for any response, and the class was well trained. They whooped and hollered in response, raising their eco-friendly water bottles for a collective, self-congratulatory swig. Melissa drank from a jug big enough to have filled my minivan's gas tank for a week. Frankly, I suspect the spinners just made those whooping noises because no one was capable of forming actual words.

After 10 minutes, I realized that if the workout didn't kill me, the boredom surely would, so I tried a friendly banter with the woman on the bike next to me. Already blessed with a great figure, she was spinning her little thighs into oblivion. "Do you really like this?" I asked, lowering the resistance lever yet again.

"In a kind of masochistic way, I suppose," she laughed. "Hey, does your back hurt?"

"No. Am I doing something wrong?" I began to worry.

"Maybe. It ought to hurt by tomorrow," she promised.

The seconds trudged forward in agonizing slowness. At one point I thought I heard Melissa order us to "move our ovaries" but I was too embarrassed to ask my neighbor if that was what she really said. Anyway, even if she had issued that command, I couldn't exactly expect mine to oblige just on her say-so.

Although I was not as fast as my spinning comrades, I outlasted the weaklings who pooped out, some as much as 15 minutes early. Of course, if they had paced themselves more carefully and not overexerted, they could have kept on pedaling as long as I did.

As the class eventually spun itself to a merciful conclusion, Melissa offered this helpful safety reminder: "Please do not dismount until your bikes have come to a complete stop. Remember that many body parts may have shifted during class, so be extremely careful during your dismount. We thank you for spinning with Buff Bodies, Inc. and hope that you will spin with us again soon."

At home, I walked in the door like a character in a spaghetti Western, only without the ten-gallon hat. Of course, I must now purge the word "spaghetti" from my vocabulary, except as an adjective describing a kind of shoulder strap that I am unsuited to wear, or the aforementioned type of movie genre.

Today I am walking even funnier than I did yesterday, and many body parts are beginning to ache. The good news is that there is no piece of cake yet invented that could possibly be worth eating if the price is returning to spinning class.

Except, perhaps, for a slice of double chocolate cheesecake.

(923 words)