Brenda Battles The Bulge: Get Me(a) to the Gym – Week 3
When the heat of summer is on, I am off. I dislike it up, down, sideways, and in between. It makes me cranky, and the accompanying sweat makes me downright hateful. I take solace in in the cool depths of an ocean or a lake. A pool will work in a pinch, but when I swim in one with the masses, I feel like I’m wading around in chlorinated pee and fecal matter. Plus, my fingers inevitably become entangled with another person’s very long strand of hair randomly floating by (why is it always brown?), and I’m skeeved right out of the pool.
Because of my quest for cooler temperatures during the summer, I have been a member of various gyms for most of my adult life. I’ve never been a “gym rat” because the smell of old socks, sweat, and dirty yoga mats singes my delicate nose hairs (not literally, but I’m not ruling it out as a future possibility). Plus, my mind has difficulty processing the disparity of seeing people furiously working up a sweat on equipment churning with monotony. There are stairs to nowhere. Treadmills to nowhere. Bicycles to nowhere. Group classes are fine, until you identify the best instructors and have to start arriving an hour before their classes just to get a parking space in the same zip code and a tiny tile of floor space to call your own for an hour.
But, as I wrote, I’ve always been a member of one because of the convenience. Sometimes you just have to forgo worrying about the fecal matter and dive into an exercise regimen at whatever place is practical.
Since my son was born in late April, I wasn’t ready to get moving and unload all the weight I put on until summer. I was a stay-at-home mother then and bought workout DVDs with the grand notion of doing them in my living room while my son napped. Turns out, when my son napped, I napped, because when he was up, he cried…a lot (acid reflux is the spawn of all that is evil). We joined the YMCA, which was great, except for the fact that my son’s immune system could not handle the Petri dish of mucus mayhem that permeated the crooks and crevices of child watch. He became sick, often, which in turn found me sequestered inside, often.
Now, eight years later, I find myself once again spending the majority of my time indoors, but this time, it’s for work. As a writer and editor, I sit so much that my well-padded butt actually starts to hurt. Sure, I could take a break and walk around. I tell myself I will–but I don’t.
Now that I’m entrenched in my Battle of the Bulge, I bring my breakfast and lunch to work with me daily, along with clothes to sweat in after work. This past Monday, I donned circulation-inhibiting spandex in anticipation of working out with Lacey, and then headed outside and was instantly slimed by the air. When I got to my car, I sat on the silver part of my seatbelt with my well-padded achy butt, and I seriously just wanted to go home…or to the burn unit of a hospital. But, I pressed on toward Lacey Lee Fitness in Norfolk.
Lacey’s gym is located in an unassuming building on a dead-end street in Ghent. As I parked my car and melted my way toward the front door, I felt like I was being watched, and my spidey sense was spot on. Sitting motionless just inside the front door, staring at me, was my new friend Mea. Mea makes every class and bounds with contagious enthusiasm. She’s such a staple of the gym, that there are even a few pictures of her in Lacey’s office…and I assume her house…and quite possibly her wallet. Mea is Lacey’s canine sidekick, and in her own way, a steward of the brand.
I’ve never been greeted by a dog at a gym. Sure, Mea probably weighs as much as pre-pubescent cat, but her tiny presence fills the space with a sense of community and warmth that it is endearing. Lest you think that a dog might get in the way of working out, know that Mea beats an excited, hasty dash to her tiny bed along the sidelines once we begin, and she is quite content to chill and watch.
If you like larger-sized gyms with amenities like a pool and sauna, you are not going to find that at Lacey Lee Fitness. Lacey’s gym offers more of a specialized, focused experience in a boutique-sized setting. There aren’t rows upon rows of gym equipment, but instead there are various resistance bands hanging from the ceilings and walls, as well other gear around the periphery.
On this day, there were 16 people in the class, so Lacey set up eight stations around the room, with each station able to accommodate two people. She demonstrated the exercises she wanted us to do at each station, and then it was game on. Right when I began to struggle with an exercise, Lacey signaled that it was time to move on to the next station. Once we got through one round at each station, we took a short breather and started on round two.
Lacey does not motivate like a drill sergeant; she motivates through positive reinforcement. The people in the classes also motivate one another, which is empowering. I’ve seen men and women of all different ages and sizes attend class, and somehow, there is always such a sense of comradery and fun in the room that the 45 minutes fly by.
When class ends, Lacey walks up to each person and gives them a solid high five. That’s great and all, but I admit that the part that makes my teeth hurt because of the sweetness is when Mea gets up from her bed and does her congratulatory lap. She prances around from person to person, and you can tell she’s giving everyone her own version of a high five.
When I leave, I am tired and sweaty, yet proud of myself. The heat and humidity don’t even register on my radar anymore. I’m too busy buzzing with endorphins.
It’s all good. Bring the heat. I’m ready.