Posted by: jevcat | March 24, 2010


Spring is here and we are being bludgeoned with ads reminding us that swimsuit season is near.  As if we hadn’t already heard it breathing down our necks without them.  Ours is a culture of fitness.  In theory, I go along with this:  Fitness is a good thing, a healthy thing.  In practice, I’d rather read a book.  Reading has been my physique’s downfall.  As a young child, I never had weight problems until I was six, and the law of the land mandated I learn how to read.  Ever since, my spare time – such little as is left in adult years – has been spent with the printed word.  And I’ve been chubby since first grade.  It’s all Uncle Sam’s fault.

There was never a point in life that I was really thin but there was a point when I was reasonably fit.  Twenty years ago, at the advanced age of 35, I found myself working for a women’s magazine that offered staff a reduced rate on exercise classes on premises  It was too good an offer to resist.  So twice weekly I would find myself in a room with several other women of similar age and shape, jumping up and down and trying to follow the directions of our fearless leader:  right foot, two three four; left foot, two three four; now right foot, left foot – or was it left foot, right foot?  A Phi Beta Kappa key – which I have – doesn’t, I’ve discovered, confer the ability to tell right from left.  If only I could remember the beginning of a particular combination of steps, I might be lucky enough to have the beginning come round again and be able to try once more to get back in sync.  I did learn that if I kept at it, I would learn the steps – a month after everyone else and just in time for the teacher to replace it with a new combination.  I have similar problems with exercise tapes at home, although at least those don’t keep changing.  Is there such a thing as Remedial Gym? 

The magazine job ended, as did the classes, though for a while I kept at the workouts and the running I’d done on non-class days.  Then for years I didn’t do much of anything, but I’d keep coming back to it and, for the last few years, I’ve tried to work out for half an hour at home four mornings a week, take steps instead of escalators on my commute (this works better at the beginning of the week than the end), and walk some every day.  It’s cheaper and less embarrassing than the gym.  I’ll get very dedicated and regular about it for months and then go weeks feeling guilty about hitting the snooze alarm instead. 

The story is similar with most of my friends, and it amuses me that those of us who cut our creative teeth fabricating reasons why we had to sit out of school gym classes now pay for the privilege of sweating to learn combinations of steps and sequences of exercises we maybe could do if only we could remember them – or to walk indoors on a treadmill watching CNN or whatever when we could be outside walking and watching people. 

 So here’s to spring, here’s to people watching, and here’s to getting out there and moving (tomorrow).



  1. If you’re ever free on Friday morning at 11:00, come to my ballet class. True fundamentals for over-50s, with no assumptions that anyone knows anything (including right from left). I know you’re a balletomane who never got to study as a child, and my class is free…
    If you really want to give me something in exchange, perhaps you can teach manual dexterity-challenged me to knit. (Others have tried and failed.)

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