Yesterday was a Silver Sneakers Day at the gym. Once again I dragged myself to that chamber of horrors and gave my unfit carcass over to the goddess of torture, for an activity which they euphemize as exercise. Heather, the goddess/instructor, whom you can't see if she stands sideways, so she faces front as much as possible, was her usual, perky self! She was smiling and chatting, all friendly, while she handed out her various pain inflicting devices....not so stretchy elastic bands with handles on the ends, fiendish rubber orbs she innocently refers to as balls, and pastel colored dumbbells. (You would think the name would give us a clue as to what's about to transpire!) We line up our chairs in front of her...feigning enthusiasm.....anything less would be regarded with disdain.
Heather turns on the music, which I now know is relied on to camouflage the sounds of popping joints, groans, moans, and desperate gasps for air. The cult members dutifullly start marching in their seats to the strains of some disco number from the seventies with the goddess of torture calling out commands: "Slow step, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, ,2, 1; double time 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2,1; slow step again; double time again. Now bring your arms into it" as she moves her arms, bent at the elbow back and forth in time with the music. "Okay, now step out and back with your left leg 8 times, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1; right leg, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.
Keep your arms moving."
The fact that I have no co-ordination becomes embarrassingly evident when she issues the command to stand, march in place, and now reach up, then down , then out to the side, then out to the front. Okay, I can march, or I can do the arm stuff! They just don't work well together! This is the 3rd torture session for me, and I manage to keep up the pace, just not both sets of limbs simultaneously. Mercifully she tells us to stop and have a sip of water and to look at the chart on the easel and determine where we are. The chart lists about ten levels starting with something like Breathing Normally, to Sweating Profusely, to Seeing Spots, all the way to Cardiac Arrest, the last of which she tells us we really should avoid.
We employ all the pain paraphernalia to achieve various movements and contortions until I'm wondering if I walked into S & M training by mistake! With beads of perspiration dripping into my eyes behind my fogged up glasses, I remind myself to check the sign on the door on my way out...if I make it out!
Now the music switches to another disco number "I Will Survive!" just about the time I'm sure I won't.
Finally the pace slows...the cool down period; our torture goddess calls it. We gradually ease the pace and the difficulty of the "dance" and our breathing begins to regain some semblance of normalcy. Then we are instructed to sit and that evil orb called a ball becomes an instrument of pleasure, inserted between our spines and the chair backs, and we undulate against it's comforting pressure. Following what we've just experienced, it's almost like having a masseuse manipulate those muscles, and euphoria takes over. Your mind knows it's a trick to make you think the next session will be worth it, but your body refuses to listen and succumbs to the pleasure.
Yep, I'll probably be there for the next torture session. I'm such a glutton for punishment!