I don’t want to hear about your workout. It will just make me insecure. But I do want you to listen to me talk about my workout. Do you know that I’ve started doing Pilates? This happened because the Yoga studio near my house turned out to be the chanting only kind. The teacher mysteriously wore a turban and many of the women in the class wore headscarves. Except for me, everyone wore white, and at one point in the class we just walked around the room, being in touch with the space. It was like I’d wandered into a temple and been like, when do we do cardio? I like my Yoga meditative. I don’t believe it’s just about burning calories, but this was too much for me.
So I crossed the street to Pilates. This is machine based Pilates where you stand on something menacingly called the “Reformer.” I mean they didn’t even try to find a more friendly, PC term for the machine. Maybe they did and it was originally called the “Rack.” With its series of straps, bungees and actual springs, they do look similar. My first class was taught by a British stick figure who shouted incomprehensibly into her headset microphone. She spent a lot of time next to my “Reformer,” actually moving my legs for me because I stared at her blankly when she told me to do things. I really wish she hadn’t been so focused on my legs because my leg hair was aggressively long. Also, I was wearing my “Pop Physique” socks, a reminder of my last failed attempt at exercise.
Pop Physique is Los Angeles’ own exercise craze that advertises itself in pseudo American Apparel billboards, suggesting all those waifish hipsters might not just be doing coke but also doing bar method. I lasted a couple of months, doing those evil ballerina moves. Always invariably the teacher would come to me during a class and spend some time. One teacher suggested I close my eyes during exercises. My legs were shaking so badly it was cartoonish, and I was starting to laugh, disturbing the other, more in shape pupils. Maybe she could see me getting closer and closer to throwing a tantrum, shouting something about how we sit all day making the money to pay for classes to look like we don’t sit all day, and how it’s just too much, and maybe looking good is only for the 1%! Turns out darkness does have a soothing ability. It was helpful at the time. Unfortunately, closing your eyes while balancing on the “Reformer” is another thing.
After Pilates, when I was near tears, I asked a woman who was LA age (she was middle aged but thanks to Pilates, veganism and Botox she looked part of some other age, neither convincingly young nor old) when she started to enjoy Pilates. She promised me that I would become addicted to it. She said I would see results in just a couple of months. I looked at her fatless body and decided to drink the cool aid.
So it turns out that Pilates and chanting Yoga aren’t that different. Both make promises of self-transformation and have their own fashion accessories – Lululemon and white turbans respectively. I suppose I chose the more aggressive version. The teacher who best fit into my schedule isn’t very aggressive at first glance. She’s in her twenties and also an actress, apparently of the comedic variety, but she’s distinctly un-funny, perhaps because I’m entrusting her with the transformation of my body. But part of her encouragement mid-class includes “No fat on your body!” At least twice a class she fat shames us, and we’re a class of many different body types. Once she announced that she’d heard about a recent study that proves fat is terrible for us, leading to cancer. “I’m not sure if that’s true, but when you think about it, it makes sense.” I thought about it and it didn’t.
Do you know that I’ve started Spinning? It takes 15-20 minutes to get that bike perfectly suited to my body’s measurements, adjusting the seat, handlebars and pedals. My body is that special. I suspect it’s all a stalling tactic on my part, and I want to look like I know what I’m doing. I do not know what I’m doing. During my first class the teacher told us to give it our all, so I did. Rihanna’s “We Found Love” was playing, and I closed my eyes on the bike. Basically I was in the music video, pounding away to the beat.
Afterwards I thought I was going to vomit, and I pushed past the woman in front of me into the bathroom, shouting behind me that I was going to be sick. Later, when no vomit came, but my breathing was still irregular, a scared voice inside of me thought that maybe I needed help. Maybe I was dehydrated and needed a stretcher and or trip to the hospital. I heard my mother urging me to “tell the teacher.” I emerged from the bathroom in search of reassurance.
The teacher, a relaxed, incredibly sexy gay man, didn’t bat an eye. In fact he was all packed up ready to go to his next class. “Are you ok?” He asked bemusedly.
To wipe the smile off his face I shouted “NO!” Then I got polite and explained that I hadn’t eaten enough for breakfast. This was true. I’d had two pieces of Teriyaki Terky Jerky and some Orange Metamucil. I didn’t tell him that.
I went back the next week to prove that I can workout like the rest of them. I did not feel the need to vomit. I only half envied all of the women around me. I felt good. The new Spinning Camille can do whatever she wants!