Like Riding A Bike

Part of the cliché of being 43 and divorced is reinvention. I am currently reinventing myself as a healthy person who occasionally has a whole loaf of garlic bread for dinner and skips runs when she is too tired. It’s a unique persona to be sure. To this end, I was recently lured into a gym with promises of low rates and a six-day free trial. We shall henceforth call this gym Eternity Fitness. My friend Tabatha offered to take a class with me, and we chose a spin-type class. Tabatha is great, and she’s been there through my divorce alternately holding my hand and kicking my butt. But, mark my words, she will be the reason I die in some fitness mishap.

If you are unfamiliar with the concept of a spin class, it is a class where a room full of people ride stationary bikes while the instructor yells helpful mottos like, “You are a warrior!” from his or her own stationary bike at the front of the room.

When we arrived I was ready to fitness. I love fitness. I am fitness. Also, I can ride a bike, so I was sure this would work out better than pilates which is an exercise for people who know where all their core muscles are and can engage them at will and for sustained periods of time. I have core muscles, but we are not at a point in our relationship where we can get engaged.

Luckily, we arrived early, so we had the chance to get a good spot and make sure I could indeed still ride a bike. I was alarmed at the sheer number of towels placed on each bike as my friend had already advised me to grab one before we got in the room. I can make it through a run with one shirt used as a towel. What did 5 or 6 towels mean? I went with it. Doesn’t sweating mean your body is efficiently working and in good shape? Wow, this class would totally make me fitness.

Our next task was to adjust the height of the seat and the distance away from the command panel. It was weird; no amount of adjustment made the seat comfortable. See I learned to ride a bike on a sweet pink Huffy with a puffy bread-loaf-shaped seat. It was like biking on clouds. This spin-class seat was like biking on marbles.

In my day we rode our bikes to school. Uphill both ways while being chased by rabid dogs.

In my day we rode our bikes to school, uphill both ways while being chased by rabid dogs.

I was feeling okay about my chances of survival in this class. I mean, 30 minutes? I could probably do something physically difficult for that long.

When the instructor arrived, he focused on me right away because I must have been giving off a helpless aura. He told me I needed cages for the pedals. Of course, Cages. I was totally about to do that. After first trying to use two left cages, I was all set with cages on my pedals to keep my lame non-biking sneakers in place during class. I just needed to actually get my feet in them while on the bike seat. This required help from the instructor and Tabatha and Jesus.

The class wasn’t too full, and no one was really close to me except Tab, so if I accidentally cussed, it would be okay. The instructor, let’s call him Brad because of reasons, got on his bike, cranked some music, and turned down the lights. Alright Brad, this was totally my jam. Pretending I’m dancing at a nightclub? Yes please.

The music was unfamiliar to me but laid enough base for me to follow the rhythm. Except I was already behind. Brad was up front talking about heart rates and zones and levels on the bike which could be adjusted. I tried to make sense of it all, but honestly I was just spinning the little dial at the front of my bike when everyone else did. I think I was supposed to be in a certain range with those numbers depending on what Brad told us to do with the dial. Maybe the dial thingy adjusted tension in the spinny thing in the wheel? Hard to say. I decided that since it was my first time I would just focus on being in motion the whole time. It wouldn’t matter how fast I went or what level my bike was set at.

I was happy at first. Duh, riding a bike right? Then we were told to raise up out of the seat. I’ve seen enough commercials for Eternity Gym to know what was expected of me. Ass in the air, feet spinning like crazy, and warrior face on. But I was unable to perform this maneuver. I’m not saying it was hard to sustain, or I couldn’t raise very high; I’m saying my butt was glued to the seat for the first three times Brad called for it. When I finally did get out of the saddle, the wheels either stopped or I wobbled half out of my stirrups. I guess these bikes don’t work like normal bikes or maybe I lost my balance in the divorce.

I didn’t give up though. Momma didn’t raise a quitter. Plus I was unable to get fully disentangled from the foot cages and was therefore stuck. I kept at it and eventually got my body and the bike to work together so that my rear was in the air a tiny bit. At this point I was light-headed but super fitnessing.

Then I got fancy. I tried to get my foot more comfortable in the cage. And then I got hurt. I can’t say exactly what happened, but let’s just say I had to pretend I was purposely getting of the bike for a restroom break. Tab told me where it was, and I escaped into the brightly lit free weight section of the gym. It was too bright, and my leg was throbbing right at the achilles tendon area along with a burning sensation radiating up my calf. Casually checking for blood in the mirror, I thought I saw the bathroom on the other side of the gym. I decided I’d go in there and tend to my wounds.

I circled that area like three times before I realized I was never going to find the bathroom. I womaned up and went back to the spin class. Lights were still off and Brad was still empowering us. I had secretly hoped I’d been gone long enough for it to be over. It was at about minute 39, and it hit me that this was a fucking one-hour class. Death to Tabatha.

So I continued my version of spinning until the end of class. Tab kept asking me how I was doing, and I said fine and thought I smiled. Hard to say though because I was concentrating on doing 30 things at once including, but not limited to, not falling again.

And then it was over. Brad turned off his mic and the music. Lights came back on. Without the pressure to keep the wheels moving it was a bit easier to get the cages off my shoes. I stood on firm ground ready to get the hell out of there. But walking was not pleasant. In fact, I would have preferred to be left on the floor to die. My legs were a strange combination of jelly and brick with my lady bits complaining about the damage done by not getting myself out of the seat enough. I was hurt. Badly. In a way running around my neighborhood never left me.

Needless to say the thought of ever looking at a spin bike again was horrifying, and I did not join the gym. But I did do one good thing that day. When I saw Brad leaving the gym, I did not run him over with my car. You’re welcome Brad.

Do These Pants Make Me Look Like a Man?

Did I ever tell you about the rather embarrassing bikini incident?  Well, pull up a chair my friend; it’s time to listen to your old pal Steph tattle on herself again.

Our apartment in Poland is by the beach. To be honest, I never knew Poland had beaches until I saw them with my own eyes. The one we live near also has a fabulous playground complete with pirate ship and bongos, so that rocks. The weather here is never too hot, so going to the beach is actually pleasant.

One thing I noticed right away though was that I was the only woman in a tankini. I am not exaggerating. Women of all sizes, shapes, and ages wear bikinis here. Some even just wear a bra as if they stumbled upon the beach and decided, the hell with it, I’m enjoying this because tomorrow it may be gone.

Yep, bikinis are for everyone!

I have never really worn a bikini. I think I’ve owned maybe two, but I’ve never liked them. I’ve also never loved one-pieces because I am way too long in the body for them to be comfortable. Tankinis are nice, but, if we’re being honest here, as I approach 40, I do not want to advertise my age even though every thing about my appearance screams, over 30 and possibly on the wrong side of 40. Also? My stomach has seen some things, man. Bad things. It looks like this:

That is not Photoshopped. My emergency abdominal surgery 2 summers ago resulted in a Salvidor Dali-shaped belly button and righteous scar. Please note extreme white color and stretch marks.

Just to give you a better view of the shape. A shape a pregnant woman would own nicely. Also? Belts do not help muffin-top.

Anyway….that was awkward….

Point of the story….I decided to go crazy and get Euro and buy a bikini. Whee! I even figured out a way to make it less revealing by using my cute little swim skirt, (Yep, I convinced myself THAT clothing item doesn’t scream out my age.) and I looked for a bikini top to start with. That was super fun because I do not know my bra size in centildecaliters or whatever crazy measuring system they have here.

At some point I stumbled across a shop that sells swim separates. The shop had no customers, which is a scenario I hate. I like to blend in. I do not like the Polish-speaking salesladies to ask me if I need help. (I do, in fact, need help, but they are vastly unqualified in the areas of my neuroses.) I was getting desperate though as time ticked by, and it got closer to the time the boys needed to be picked up at school, so I went into the shop where two young ladies (Yes, I’m almost 40; I cannot hide it any more.) idly leaned against the counter hating wrinkles and boring hair.

I was now flustered by time constraints, lack of coolness, and ignorance. I fumbled through some tops and then spotted some briefs that looked like they provided some decent butt coverage. This should have been a huge red flag. From what I understand, most women who buy bikinis do not want coverage. But, I was excited by the prospect of maybe finding a top and bottoms that might make me feel confident.

I grabbed my selected tops (No strings of any kind, just decent straps for goodness sakes.) and two sizes of black briefs and headed into the dressing room. The clerks were speechless at how I awesome I seemed to be at shopping. I was fast and decisive. I assured them I did not really need help. I assured them about three times before I just closed the curtain to shut them up.

I started with the bottoms. They sure were comfy. They were roomy. It’s possible I needed a different size though. They seemed to bunch in the middle and seemed to have too much room there. They weren’t really boy-cut like I was used to. Something was…..off….

Dear God. They were men’s swim briefs. Yep. Right off the GIANT rack of men’s items. You know, with more men’s items like underpants? Hmm, did not notice that.

Needless to say, my work there was done. I did not need to try on any of the tops as I would be exiting the premises in the next 30 seconds and would not have the time nor dignity for a purchase.

I gathered myself, grabbed the items I had chosen, and opened the curtain. I handed the mixed-gender items to the still speechless girls and held my head up high.

Then I ran from the area.

What will I spill next time? God only knows.

Do These Pants Make Me Look Like a Man?

Did I ever tell you about the rather embarrassing bikini incident?  Well, pull up a chair my friend; it’s time to listen to your old pal Steph tattle on herself again.

Our apartment in Poland is by the beach. To be honest, I never knew Poland had beaches until I saw them with my own eyes. The one we live near also has a fabulous playground complete with pirate ship and bongos, so that rocks. The weather here is never too hot, so going to the beach is actually pleasant.

One thing I noticed right away though was that I was the only woman in a tankini. I am not exaggerating. Women of all sizes, shapes, and ages wear bikinis here. Some even just wear a bra as if they stumbled upon the beach and decided, the hell with it, I’m enjoying this because tomorrow it may be gone.

Yep, bikinis are for everyone!

I have never really worn a bikini. I think I’ve owned maybe two, but I’ve never liked them. I’ve also never loved one-pieces because I am way too long in the body for them to be comfortable. Tankinis are nice, but, if we’re being honest here, as I approach 40, I do not want to advertise my age even though every thing about my appearance screams, over 30 and possibly on the wrong side of 40. Also? My stomach has seen some things, man. Bad things. It looks like this:

That is not Photoshopped. My emergency abdominal surgery 2 summers ago resulted in a Salvidor Dali-shaped belly button and righteous scar. Please note extreme white color and stretch marks.

Just to give you a better view of the shape. A shape a pregnant woman would own nicely. Also? Belts do not help muffin-top.

Anyway….that was awkward….

Point of the story….I decided to go crazy and get Euro and buy a bikini. Whee! I even figured out a way to make it less revealing by using my cute little swim skirt, (Yep, I convinced myself THAT clothing item doesn’t scream out my age.) and I looked for a bikini top to start with. That was super fun because I do not know my bra size in centildecaliters or whatever crazy measuring system they have here.

At some point I stumbled across a shop that sells swim separates. The shop had no customers, which is a scenario I hate. I like to blend in. I do not like the Polish-speaking salesladies to ask me if I need help. (I do, in fact, need help, but they are vastly unqualified in the areas of my neuroses.) I was getting desperate though as time ticked by, and it got closer to the time the boys needed to be picked up at school, so I went into the shop where two young ladies (Yes, I’m almost 40; I cannot hide it any more.) idly leaned against the counter hating wrinkles and boring hair.

I was now flustered by time constraints, lack of coolness, and ignorance. I fumbled through some tops and then spotted some briefs that looked like they provided some decent butt coverage. This should have been a huge red flag. From what I understand, most women who buy bikinis do not want coverage. But, I was excited by the prospect of maybe finding a top and bottoms that might make me feel confident.

I grabbed my selected tops (No strings of any kind, just decent straps for goodness sakes.) and two sizes of black briefs and headed into the dressing room. The clerks were speechless at how I awesome I seemed to be at shopping. I was fast and decisive. I assured them I did not really need help. I assured them about three times before I just closed the curtain to shut them up.

I started with the bottoms. They sure were comfy. They were roomy. It’s possible I needed a different size though. They seemed to bunch in the middle and seemed to have too much room there. They weren’t really boy-cut like I was used to. Something was…..off….

Dear God. They were men’s swim briefs. Yep. Right off the GIANT rack of men’s items. You know, with more men’s items like underpants? Hmm, did not notice that.

Needless to say, my work there was done. I did not need to try on any of the tops as I would be exiting the premises in the next 30 seconds and would not have the time nor dignity for a purchase.

I gathered myself, grabbed the items I had chosen, and opened the curtain. I handed the mixed-gender items to the still speechless girls and held my head up high.

Then I ran from the area.

What will I spill next time? God only knows.