There comes a time in your life when you just want to eat cereal for breakfast, lunch and dinner and inhaling biscuits just becomes a necessary part of your daily routine to the point where you don’t even bother to brush the crumbs off your pyjamas anymore. For me, working from home and snacking my way through the day was definitely a response to dealing with the existential crisis that occurs post-graduation, intensified by my recent move to deep suburbia in the U.S. Shortly following this time comes a moment when you jokingly ask your dad to hide the packet of hobnobs, and he actually does. For a man with three daughters, this was the closest to intervention he was going to get without being demonized as a misogynistic body shamer.
I was running out of clothes that actually fit and/or cereal so I joined a new gym and signed up to a 30 day fitness challenge because I am sucker for a quick-fix and those dramatic before/after photos. This 30 day challenge involved a strict meal plan and high intensity training and dangled the hopes of losing 15lbs in just 30 days! So it was with great excitement that I dragged myself out of bed on my 24th birthday to attend the welcome meeting, ready to be my best self.
At the welcome meeting, I was joined by a group of women significantly older than myself. In hindsight, this next part should have been a little uncomfortable but I was so hyped on the promise of finally getting myself some shiny new abs in time for Christmas that I was oblivious. Each of us were asked to stand up and talk about why we were ready to start the challenge. Every single woman was battling either serious health issues, going through menopause, or had had multiple children. For some, it was all three. They each recounted their rocky relationship with dieting and hectic schedules. Then there was me. I had no kids, no arthritis, no 30+ pounds to lose. But hi everyone, it’s my birthday and I just want a body that doesn’t quit. In the good way because at that point I had a body that wouldn’t quit…storing fat if I even as so much looked at a slice of bread. Oh and I also wanted to be fit and healthy and cleanse myself of all the toxins of the modern world etc.
Emotional pep talks aside, a key part of the challenge involves attending 60 minute bootcamps. The bootcamps involve high intensity 45 second stations which sounds bearable except for the fact that they don’t let you breathe between them I swear to god.
I would like to tell you more about my very first class, maybe set the scene and tell you about the music they played, and the other people in the class (just kidding, I don’t talk to strangers). However, in reality, most of my senses shut down because I was purely focused on my survival. Most of my thoughts fluctuated between considering:
(1)Whether it was morally okay to fake being asthmatic
(2) Whether the pain I was feeling was something serious or, if I was lucky, just a piece of fat finally surrendering.
I also hurled a lot of internal abuse at the trainer who was making me do exercises that required muscles that I clearly did not possess. I have a hazy memory of him standing over me, inevitably with a stunning ariel view of my chins but I was in too much pain to fully contemplate exactly how embarrassed I should have been.
If there is anyone who thinks they can look remotely attractive in one of these classes…you’re wrong. You will inevitably end up breathing like you are delivering a child, inhaling and exhaling obnoxiously just to get the air in. I’ll admit, I still powdered in my eyebrows beforehand, in complete denial that they would sweat down my face during the warm up. That’s rookie error #2. Rookie error #1? Not taking the time to locate my nearest emergency exit.
I would like to tell you that I left feeling motivated and energised. I didn’t. I left feeling dizzy and I left feeling broken, literally. I am still undecided on whether the extra pounds are better than never having to do a burpee again.