First, let me explain that I am not “in shape”, unless you count Twinkie as a shape. Very round and spongy, with a soft middle. That’s me. So I made an appointment with the trainer at the local Cross Fit gym for the personal training session in order to get started. The minute I walked in, I knew I was in big trouble. The room was filled with weights and barbells and Things to Lift. Heavy things. People were grunting and lifting, rowing and squatting. Nobody was a fat chick like me. Uh oh.
Standing there feeling like Shamu the Friendly Whale, I contemplated turning around and leaving. I’d work out at home. There were plenty of places to look up these exercises online, right? Then nobody would see me embarrass myself in front of the gaggle of sorority girls that wandered in right before I started my session. (I wanted to lean over and whisper to them that I WAS one of them 15 years ago. I could be their warning image. Girls, THIS is what happens when you have four kids and live off Papa Johns and Burger King for 13 years. Beware!) Just as I was about to slip out and pretend it never happened, the cutest little guy bounded up to me.
“Shanon? Hi, I’m Neal! Ready to get started?”
He was adorable. Probably in his early twenties, lean and mean, and peppy as a cheerleader on game day. Looks are so deceiving. He walked me through six different types of squats. Then he handed me a barbell and we did it again. Then a kettle bell. Then a medicine ball. I pulled my lard ass up on rings, lifted weights, attempted push ups and sit ups, and nearly passed out doing box jumps. He patiently showed me the proper techniques for each move, assessed and corrected, and cheered when I got it right. Dripping sweat and gasping like a fish out of water, I finished up and went to get a drink. I thought I’d done pretty well for a big ol’ girl. Then he said, “You ready for a workout now?” WHAT?!! What the hell have we been doing? At that moment I understood. Neal is a nickname for Satan. The Devil himself has gotten a hold of me, and I’m going to die right here and now on this rubber-floored gym.
He put me through a 20 minute workout. Halfway through, I didn’t give a crap if those cute little pony-tailed girls were watching or not. Big Mama was working it. At the end, my legs felt like spaghetti and I seriously questioned how I was going to drive myself home. The next day, I couldn’t walk. Sitting down and standing up without assistance was out of the question. This made going to the bathroom an interesting event. For three days, I hobbled and whimpered. I stretched and walked and took hot baths. Finally, I got back to normal. So I did the dumbest thing I could think of. I went back to Cross Fit.
Satan met me at the door again, tail wagging and ready to go. Torn between being excited to try again and dreading the torture, I gave a half-hearted nod. Once again, Neal made this soft girl, whose most strenuous activity is carrying a ream of paper to the copy machine, work muscles I thought had shriveled up and died years ago. Again, my knees went weak, and not in the way Hugh Jackman makes them wobble. But I improved. Satan pushed me to the point of failure, but I didn’t quit. When we finished this time, he told me I was ready to begin regular classes. I had done each movement correctly, and it was time to move up. My goal is to go two to three times a week, so I asked him which classes had the fewest sorority girls in attendance. He laughed. I wasn’t kidding.
Satan is awfully cute.