I’ve been feeling old lately. My body creaks and cracks and aches and just generally pisses me off. And I find myself using the word whippersnapper a lot. I know that “age ain’t nothin’ but a number” and all that but the reality is, things are starting to deteriorate. I need to put a little more effort into taking care of myself. Two years (to the day!) after our kids came home, it’s time to focus a little bit of energy on myself again. Because when I put on a skirt and tights and my confused son says, “Why are you so dressed up?”, launching into a tirade about how fancy I used to be and how I am more than just his mother is…well…not the best approach for anyone. So I’ve been trying. Part of this involves taking care of my achey breaky body.
My new podiatrist (I have a podiatrist! Ug! So old!) made me custom orthotics, told me I need to go to physio (maybe next week), suggested epsom salt baths (don’t mind if I do) and said I need to strengthen my core through yoga, swimming, pilates, etc. This was not what I wanted to hear. But today–yes, a full month after he said it to me–I went to my very first pilates class.
Now, first, let me say, I am wicked strong. I have strong arms and strong legs and can dead lift a horse. If it’s, you’ know, a smallish horse. But I have the core strength of a jellyfish. Actually, I guess a jellyfish pushes itself around the ocean on its own so maybe that’s not even true. I have the core strength of a lasagna noodle. A cooked lasagna noodle, to be clear. It’s truly unbelievable. So, let’s just say, pilates is required.
I showed up at the Y this morning and was one of two students there. The teacher looked to be in her late 50s and I immediately started to judge. Because, at 43, I am still so much younger than someone like her. Then the other students started arriving. I found myself thinking, “Well, what did I expect?” Who has time for pilates at 10 am on a Tuesday? Losers like me, that one woman in her 30s wearing jewelry and just sort of doing her own class while looking at herself in the mirror the whole time, and seniors. I rolled my eyes inside my own head thinking what a waste of time this was going to be. The class started, slow and simple. I thought, “Well, it’s good that I’m here, even if it’s not a challenge for me. I won’t modify the exercises to make them harder today, I’ll just take it easy.”
You can see where this is going, right?
There was this one move where we had to lie on our backs with our feet up in the air and roll up onto our butts. Have I ever told you about my monkey tailbone? I have an abnormally long tailbone. I’ve never had it measured or anything but I can’t do yoga or dance moves that involve sitting up on my tailbone because it’s just too painful. No, really. Me and the other old people were each sitting on two mats! (The woman in her 30s was standing up and stretching.) But the tailbone pain really wasn’t much of an issue because I couldn’t even roll myself up. I could lift my head, I could inch my shoulders up off the floor, but that was as far as this old noodle was going. I heard the teacher say that it took her six months to master the pose and I lay back down. Why rush things? I had six months! I believe fitness should be a series of incremental achievements. Besides, my muscles were shaking uncontrollably so I didn’t really have a choice.
After the class, a man of about 80 smiled at me. “First class?” he asked? I would have slapped him except I couldn’t lift my arm. He was very nice and told me about the other classes available during the week, which teachers were good, how long he’d been doing pilates for.
“You lost me at cyclefit,” I told him. “That’s not a real word.”
He looked at me quizzically. I was too weak to explain.
He told me there is a good class on Saturday mornings at 10 am. I told him I’m usually sleeping at that time. He told me I can sleep when I’m dead. No, really. He said that.
I resisted pointing how much closer he is to dead than me because even I know it’s probably untrue. I told him that, actually, I always want to be sleeping at that time but never can because the kids wake me up. He asked how old my kids are. I told him my son is 10 and my daughter is 14.
“You don’t look old enough to have kids that age,” he said.
And I was young again! So young! Way too young to have two children and to be unable to do a sit up!
“See you next time,” I told him. Then I limped out of the room, hoping no one’s ears were young enough to hear the popping and crackling of my knees.