Sunday, June 26, 2011

Confessions of a Boot Camp Noob

Boot Camp. These are words that should instill a certain amount of fear in your heart. Think drill sergeants screaming at the top of their lungs as people drop like flies around you, indistinguishable streams of tears and sweat dripping down their faces. But I wasn’t scared of that. Maybe it was because the classes at Fuel Theory are only a half hour long. I can do anything for a half hour, I thought to myself. It can’t be that bad. Besides, if 80 year olds can do it (according to the website), then I, a spry young thing, should be able to kick ass and take names, all the while perspiring just enough to give my complexion an attractive dewy quality.
            I showed up to my first boot camp class on a sprinkly late Friday afternoon at the bleachers at Green Lake Park. After a few minutes of chatting among the instructor and other victims classmates, Kailyn declared that it was now 5:00 and our first task would be to run up and down the bleachers five times, at which point I turned around and noticed for the first time that the bleachers, which looked fairly innocuous from a distance (and in fact welcoming when I’m running around the lake and the bleachers behind which I’ve parked my car finally come into view), actually had two-foot high steps and a four-foot platform to hoist myself up at the bottom. Each time. I’m fairly certain the last time I hoisted myself up onto anything, it was the deck of a swimming pool and I can’t have been older than 12. Those bleacher runs played out like a crazy version of the stages of grief in my head:

1.     Whew, this is a little tough. But it’s not that bad.
2.     “I’ve made a huge mistake.”
3.     We have to have killed at least 10 minutes by now, right?!
4.     I’m going to die up here.
5.     Only one more. I can do it! My shins are bleeding and my legs feel like overcooked noodles in Jell-O sauce, but I’m almost done! (Note to self: next time you plan to scale a concrete wall, wear long pants)

Of course, the great prize at the end of the bleacher runs was a set of pushups alternated with held plank position. There must be some sort of wormhole in front of those bleachers. I mean, how else can a year and a half of pushups fit into a half hour class? Not to mention two decades of lunges, and another four centuries of those leg lift thingies that make your abs want to get up and walk out saying, “eff that.”
When Kailyn finally decided we had suffered enough ended the class, everyone got up and walked away. Not me though. I sat on my yoga mat and waited until I was sure that when I stood I wouldn’t throw up all over the dock. I had a contemplative few moments in which I pondered my life, my choices, and where would be the better place to vomit if I couldn’t make it to the ladies’ room. Ultimately though, I decided to hold it in. Surely I can’t be so wimpy as to throw up after a workout. When I was finally on my feet, I dragged my linguini legs slowly to my car across the street. This was a precarious matter in itself, since I knew that if a car came careening around the bend and didn’t see me, I wouldn’t stand a chance. My Gumby gams simply wouldn’t be able to carry me to safety.
Before today did I consider myself out of shape? Yes. Lazy? Most definitely. But weak? No. I’ve always been pretty strong (except for upper body strength: I’ve never been able to do a real pushup, but I’ve accepted it), and I prided myself on being able to power through, even if I was tired. But the 1800 seconds I spent at Green Lake today were enough to shake that belief. But ask me if I’m tenacious. I will tell you yes, because I will be back next week. It’s not called boot camp because you skip and hold hands and maybe do a couple of lunges. It’s boot camp because it’s tough as hell and you want to either cry, vomit, or die by the end; at the time it doesn’t even matter which. There are 37 steps from the garage up to my second floor apartment. Each of them was a struggle after the class. Even peeling a banana took Herculean effort. But I feel stronger because of it and I look forward to the day when I won’t taste bile at the back of my mouth after class, or wish that an elevator had miraculously been installed in my building in the last hour. This brings us back to the concept of boot camp. It’s conditioning not only for your body, but also for your mind and your sense of discipline. Which I could definitely use.

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