Lady Exercise / by Vanessa Fiola

**The next 24 days I’ll be posting 500 words a day as part of a creative writing challenge. You can join the fb group here. **


At the beginning of the year I resolved to be less jiggly. Every year our entire company takes an annual trip over a weekend in May. We choose warm, sunny places. This year it’s San Diego. We spend much of the weekend in meetings, but eventually we all meet at the pool. Since it’s not customary to swim in a burka, this year I made a commitment—I will not do that thing where I inch my shorts off while hunched in I-have-to-pee position and then jump in the pool like no one noticed. I resolve to be fit.

Fortunately I have co-workers not only kind enough to encourage me in my resolutions, but also to commit once a week to driving from the Grove all the way to Silverlake just to take 7 a.m. Pilates together. To give context for those outside of LA, that is an act so benevolent it is typically answered in reciprocity by offering one’s first born. Luckily, Laura is twenty-seven and career goals, so she’s cool with just a latte after class instead.

Last week I went for the first time in thirteen years. Thirteen. Pilates was my gateway drug to yoga. After about eighteen months of twice-weekly privates, my gorgeous ballet dancer-turned-Pilates instructor suggested that I try Bikram because “it’s is the only way I can see you changing the shape of your legs.” She told me I had to do it at least five times a week. I left Pilates for yoga and didn’t look back.

Until last Wednesday when I agreed to meet Laura just after sunrise. I had checked out the class schedule the night before on Mind Body but didn’t sign up because I would have had to get out of bed to change my expired credit card, which, no. So I showed up early. The instructor told me that the class was totally booked and why didn’t I just book online, but then she looked at me and I could hear her thinking that people my age don’t understand technology. Meanwhile, I nervously tried to avoid Laura’s death-glare but eventually caved and now I have charred skin on my left shoulder.

Anyway, I ended up getting in.

In Pilates they have exercise machines with puritanical and sexually repressed names like the “reformer,” which pairs with an ostensibly innocuous looking tension band dubiously called the “magic circle.” As you might expect, both cause pain.

But I’m nothing if not marginally committed. I hopped on the reformer, got into pike position, wedged the magic circle in between my ankles and started pulsing away with the rest of the class to Beyonce. I sort of lost control and the magic circle went flying across the room. It was not subtle. The instructor looked up at me and then to the errant magic circle fifteen feet away. “Great job, Vanessa! Way to work to exhaustion!”

Normally I’m a sucker for praise, but we were in warm up.

Somehow, fifty minutes later, I made it. And despite the wave of nausea which cloaked my entire body for the next several hours, I feel hooked. Watch out San Diego, I'm (probably) leaving my burka at home.