Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Free Dope from your Brain

This post is about aerobics, but I think I feel a writing-related metaphor coming on.

Last night I took a "multi-step" aerobics class at the gym I have paid far more money to than I've gotten fair use out of. I decided that I need structure if I am to stay a healthy person whose muscles do not drip and wave off my body like webbing. Swimming is fantastic, but as I learned last night, if I thought I was getting exercise, I was sorely, sorely mistaken.

The last time I took step classes in earnest, I was 19, in college. I took a lot of classes. I had that crazy teenage energy where I could do five classes a week and rollerblade to work and go running on the weekends (it might have helped that i was not a big partier). It was nuts! I truly had buns of steel.

Aerobics classes, let's face it, are for pansies like me. Those of us who simply will not push beyond the burn; who give up right when it gets hard; who would rather watch episodes of something good they rented from HBO than take a hike. I'm borderline lazy when it comes to phyiscal activity though I do it because I should, and because it tends to feel good later. So for me, this class, in which you actually use four steps, around you in a circle, not just the nice handy one in front of you, was pure masochism.

Aerobics instructors, I'm quite sure, are Devil spawn. And since the devil always takes a deceptively attractive form, the instructor was Suzi, who is good-looking and well-muscled, incredibly high-energy and never stops smiling, even as she is on the ground doing push-ups faster than I can breathe. She reminds me of a girlfriend my father had as a kid--also an aerobics instructor--who also wound up putting her foot through the plate glass door of our house after a fight. There is such a thing as TOO much energy.

I caught on to all routines but one, which not only involved lifting my legs in a diagonal position, first one, then the other, but moving side to side and crawling up and over the step. I just stood there, laughing at myself. I simply couldn't get my brain to understand it.

Twice I thought I was going to puke.
I drank 40 oz of water in the hour's time.
My face was the only beet red one at the end, and that counts the very overweight woman who did a better job than I did.

But in the end, despite that my ass was kicked, I had ENERGY and what's better? Endorphins!!. Last night and today I feel great. I had forgotten why people push themselves to the point of throwing up and muscle spasms: free dope from your brain!

And I gotta say, like any sado-masochistic enterprise, a part of me wants never to return, but I'm also sort of hooked. I think I want to get me more of that action.

And here's where I link it to writing: The true rewards of anything do seem to come after you go beyond what you want to do and think you need to do. The revisions I've done for my agent on The Night Oracle have taken me to places I couldn't have seen were possible months ago. Each revision also opens up new avenues. It takes me deeper (and darker) and with that comes this tremendous sense of satisfaction. But it's work too, and there's always a moment of panic for me where I look at what needs to be changed and I think: Can I?

Yes, I can.

So there.


At 3:14 PM, Blogger L-ementary said...

I like it! Since I've decided to turn 20 instead of 30 in October, I'm also planning to sign up for some kind of exercise class at college. The last step class I did at a gym made me feel like I was going to pass out, so I had to stop. In college, though, I rocked Step class!

At 6:14 PM, Blogger Patry Francis said...

So true--both about the aerobics and the writing. I have to push myself to do both.

At 6:54 AM, Blogger Samus said...

Is it any wonder that Carlo has to lift and kickbox and fight? When he doesn't, his art gets stagnant and he says he gets "physically depressed." It's all about getting out of his skull, I think!

However, I think you could do worse than consistently swimming. Swimming is sweet on the joints, good for the heart, and will keep you fit on its own. You can always work harder in the pool.

I guess I only mention that because aerobics is only fun until that first injury or four-day sore. Have fun with it, whatever you do! Nothing like those people who grimace their way through the hour.

At 11:33 AM, Blogger Jordan E. Rosenfeld said...

Samus, yeah, I think you're right in theory. Problem is that swimming is contributing to a new phenomena--eczema...but I'm thinking on keeping it going.



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