In My Next Life

There are two things I would not like to be in my next life (there are more than two, but these are on the top of the list): truck driver and fitness instructor.

First about the truck driver. I include bus drivers in this category as well.  We have all observed truck drivers when they have turned corners in Cleveland. Some of us have been at traffic lights and seen these semis turning toward us. We have had to back up to accommodate them.  We have seen them backing into loading docks, squeezing under bridges, and struggling up hills on the interstates. If I drove a truck or bus, the world would be in danger.  I would be running over curbs, taking out bicycles, scrapping car doors or worse. It is all too painful to think about.

Then there is the fitness instructor. I truly don’t like to exercise in any gym no matter how wonderful it is. Being in a class with other sufferers helps. Having someone push me is the best of all. Well, if I had my own personal trainer, that would probably be ideal, but I can’t afford that.

Readers know that I go to the nearby Cleveland State Rec Center. I’ve settled on two classes: water aerobics and spinning. Mainly I like the mid day classes because I am too unmotivated to get up early in the morning and too hungry to wait until 5pm for a class.

So the unlucky instructor that gets to teach me at noon 3-4 times a week is Missy Backflip.  I cannot tell you what someone would have to pay me to teach 7 classes of spinning a week. It certainly wouldn’t be money. I would be so cranky, sore, and resentful, that my students would not only drop out by droves, but would probably bring assault and battery charges against me.

Now Missy does not do this. She, like all other instructors, encourages us to go at our own pace and work at our “perceived exertion” whatever that means. Some days just standing in the water is exertion enough, but it is the instructor’s job to get me to move.

In addition to doing this, Ms Backflip, and others of her unfortunate ilk, must get us to perform plenty of difficult, unpleasant and even painful things. This means we must sprint or lift or stretch or flex in frankly kinky and unnatural positions. At least they have been unnatural to my body for a long time.

There are times when it becomes necessary to say mean things to the instructor like “I hate you, Missy.”  Instructors are trained to deal with these types of students.  Most instructors keep saying things like “Good job” or “You can do it!” These little motivational tidbits are all bullshit and we all know it, but the gasping, aching students grasp onto any little bit of encouragement.

People do not smile like this in Spin Class

Over the months, I’ve gotten to know Missy and we’ve done some things outside the gym. Mainly this involves some type of eating. We are both good at this. Missy, using up 9000 calories a day riding her bike to work, then exercising at work, then riding her bike home for work, then gardening, then doing the whole thing over again later in the day, can eat her weight in food every day and stay slim.  On the other hand, I use about 12 calories to walk to the gym, 60 calories working out, and 12 calories walking home. Plus, all I really want to eat is dessert. Judy, to be honest, would rather have a beer or wine than a chocolate turtle sundae.  I think this is un-American and pity her for her healthy eating habits.  I eat the same amount as Missy and often help her out by tasting her food. Thus the weight difference.

Now back to the fitness instructor. Knowing your instructor as I do has its pros and cons. First of all, Missy knows my abilities. She won’t let me coast. Other students truly do just stand in the water (almost) and do little else. If I tried to do this, my instructor would start calling me names like “Cheaty Pants.”  Of course, that name-calling goes both ways. As when she nearly killed me riding on the towpath. She had a bike malfunction and ran into my bike. I landed in the grass. You can imagine an old woman like me lying pathetically in the grass. There is all that fear of broken bones, dementia, and pee leakage. But did Judy care? NOOOOO. She was over there fussing with her bike.

She knows now, that at any moment in class, the embarrassing truth will come out. If she is pushing just the least bit too hard, I might shout out “Killer” or some other imprecation. Then I would get to explain to her other adoring students THE TRUTH about their wonderful instructor.

Luckily, I have been in a good mood, not been tossed out of class, or wounded by my instructor.

Now I think you can see why I picked fitness instructor as one of two jobs I’d dread to have: I might have me in the class.