A Hillsborough Community College Student Publication since 1978.
~ Krista Byrd
Meredith was the type of woman who never gave a thought to her personal fitness- she had always been thin and never felt the need to exercise, often scoffing at the commercials for bulky treadmills and wondering what kind of woman would want to do aerobics in her own living room. It wasn’t until she was late for a meeting and walking up three flights of stairs that she discovered that she was extremely winded. Her coworkers bounded up the stairs with ease, and she found herself breaking a sweat, her breath weighed heavily in her chest, her heart threatening to jump out of her ears with every step.
On her drive home, she felt perplexed. Her mind was swimming with thoughts and questions- when did her pants start to feel so tight? Has she ever been so out of breath and embarrassed? Where was that thin lady she used to see in the mirror? While her mind was spinning, so were her tires, one of which decided to burst at this very moment.
Muttering curses to herself she got out of her car and surveyed the damage, and while opening the trunk to pull out the spare tire she looked up and realized that she was right next to the YMCA. It was as if God had sent her a certified letter, and she had to sign for it.
After changing her tire and rushing home, she decided to return to the YMCA, get a membership, and start to work out, if only so that she could feel more productive. Clad in barely worn work-out clothes, she listened as the overly excitable girl described the benefits of joining an exercise class, “It is so good to meet new people who can help push you to be the best you that you can be!” the girl had boasted.
Walking down the narrow hall of classrooms, Meredith began to notice that many of the larger girls were going into one room near the end of the hall. They were all smiling and glowing, and she began to feel that even though the class certainly didn’t produce the skinniest members of the gym, it did leave the women with a beauty that she longed to capture.
Walking into the room, Meredith grabbed a mat as the other ladies had done, finding a comfortable spot in the back of the room. She noticed that a few men had even joined the class and couldn’t help but wish they hadn’t- what if one of them was her future husband and he has to see her get sweaty and winded!
The instructor, a smaller woman no younger than 50 and by no means a fitness guru judging from her physique, floated into the room, clapping her hands and smiling. “Welcome, you all are amazing and beautiful beings, and I am so glad that you all have decided to include me in your journey. We are going to start tonight’s class with some breathing exercises. Remember, in, hold it, and out. In, 1, 2, 3. Out.”
Meredith looked around timidly, the women all had their eyes closed and were focusing on the breathing. The men sat next to many women holding their hands, breathing but less intensely. ‘Maybe this is just a warm up, I am sure that if you can breathe through the pain of exercising you can push yourself further. Yes, this is why were doing this breathing I’m sure of it’ she thought, taking in a big deep breath.
After about fifteen more minutes of breathing exercises, the instructor stood quickly, “Okay ladies, now get with your partners, we are going to practice the power of positive encouragement and soothing touch. Men, sit behind your partners, gently rub their shoulders and back and encourage their breathing.”
Red with embarrassment of not having a partner, Meredith raised her hand. “Excuse me, I wasn’t aware that a partner was required for this.” she said curtly. “Oh dear, it always pains me to see a young woman in your situation. I will act as your partner for this exercise.” the instructor sorrowfully replied.
Now Meredith was really confused, ‘young women in my situation? I didnt know overeating donuts was a situation…’ she thought with anger.
Anger surged through her, stored up energy begged to be released and sitting here breathing and getting a back rub just wasnt cutting it anymore.
Standing with a flourish she gathered her things, the instructor gazing up at her with puppy eyes. “I just think that you all should know, this is no way to burn any calories. Sitting around BREATHING! The ‘Power of Positive Encouragment’, this is all just hippy- voodoo! Its no wonder you people are so relaxed looking, you dont really exercise at all!”
Face red, palms sweaty, the weight of her words began to settle in the air all around her, her feet unable to move under the pressure.
The instructor stood, smiling, “Honey, we’re not trying to burn calories. We’re not even here to exercise. This is a lamaze class.”