I’ve missed a lot of workout classes in the last couple of weeks. Sometimes life “happens” and fitness takes a necessary back seat, and before you know it, well, spandex is no longer an option. But I heard through the grapevine that these have been good workouts to miss. Coach Stacy, all fired up over core fitness, has rather sadistically been testing some of her ideas on human subjects. I thought I’d dodged a bullet but it turns out I was somewhat premature in my celebratory relief.
Last night, Coach phoned. “Come over to my house – I have a surprise for you.”
“Can’t tonight,” I said. “I’ve got a gazillion emails to attend to.”
No response. “Coach? Coach, are you there?”
The line was dead. I could have called her back and argued my premise. But I knew that in the long run I’d still wind up over at the Fowlers’ house. Coach typically doesn’t take “no” for an answer, so why waste my breath?
Upon arriving, I was immediately led up to the Fowler loft, where prominently situated in the middle of the room were a brand new elliptical machine and…….something else, which was hiding menacingly beneath a sheet. Suddenly sensing grave danger, I muttered, “Nice elliptical,” and turned to leave.
“Freeze!” Coach barked. “I want to show you my new toy.” With a quick flip of the wrist, Coach snapped up the sheet. “Ta-da!” she announced with outstretched arms à la Vanna White revealing the completed phrase.
“What…….what is it?” I stuttered.
The contraption was hideous, like something from a medieval torture chamber. It seemed to be part table, part trampoline, with a ghastly array of stirrups and pulleys, springs and runners.
Evidently my instincts for self-preservation are not particularly advanced because I stood there paralyzed, staring mutely at the contraption, rather like a deer in headlights.
“Take your shoes off, Ridge. Time to work your core,” Coach ordered.
One minute later I was lying face up on Coach’s Aero Pilates Performer machine, arms locked in the stirrups, performing a variety of pulley exercises such as Arm Circles and Bicep Curls. Coach had coined clever names for some of the drills, like “Hug a Tree,” and “Salute.” Of course, I had a salute in mind, but not necessarily appropriate for general audiences.
After the arm circuit, Coach started me off on the leg routine – Leg Circles, Leg Extensions, and the like. Coach had just demonstrated the “Nordic Walk,” when her phone rang and she disappeared rather abruptly to answer it. Unfortunately, I’m prone to mishaps when working out unsupervised, and sure enough, while “walking Nordicly,” my foot slipped through the stirrup and I wound up a bit cockeyed on the table. Trying to right myself, my other foot slipped and before I knew it, I was hanging upside down off the table, legs knotted in the stirrups and arms flailing wildly like the unwitting safarier dangling from a snare in a Tarzan movie.
“Ridge, stop messing around,” Coach chastised upon her return. “Now let’s start on your stomach.”
For the next twenty minutes I grunted through a series of exercises that increased in difficulty with each maneuver. I remember thinking at one point, Good Lord, this thing is from the Middle Ages. I am being tortured on a rack. Finally, I completed the entire Pilates circuit and Coach helped me up off the table. I was lacing my tennies back up and preparing to leave when Coach said, “Now it’s time for planks.”
Before I could escape, Coach had me on a floor mat, performing every type of plank known to human kind:
Front planks – “Ridge, get that butt down. Don’t you want your abs to look like Jillian Michaels’?”
Side planks – “I found this in my Shape magazine. Pretty cool, huh?” Note to self — cancel Coach’s Shape subscription…..
Seated planks – “Lift higher, Ridge.” I might as well have had the anchor to the Titanic tied to my rear…..
Walking planks – “Get those arms up, Ridge.” Really? Surely, walking the plank into shark infested waters would have been more merciful.
On and on it went. Bird-dog planks, fire hydrant planks, marching planks, mountain climber planks. I learned recently that 29 different muscles are activated when one is working out one’s core. By the time we were finished, I felt as though 129 muscles were screaming in concerted agony – muscles I never knew I had.
At various times during her workouts Coach has this annoying habit of asking her clients, “Where are you on a scale of 1 to 10?” It’s just her subtle way of knowing how close she is to finishing you off. It’s a trick question, really. If you answer “6” or “7,” she concludes you’re being cocky and proceeds to try to beat you up a little more. If you answer “11,” Coach tells you to “Cowboy Up” and it’s off to the rodeo.
“Where are you Ridge, scale of 1 to 10?” Coach asked.
Gasping for breath, my core feeling like jello, I panted, “Like….around….a million.”
Five minutes later I was heading out the Fowlers’ front door. “Good job,” Coach said encouragingly. “Jillian would be proud. Tomorrow I’ll show you some cool moves for your hips and rear.”
“Jillian can bite me,” I muttered.
But not until I was buckled safely in my car, and well out of Coach’s earshot. Perhaps my survival instincts are more developed than I previously thought…….