A few weeks before Christmas, I reserved a DVD at the library. Or so I thought. It turned out not to be a DVD as much as a book with a DVD.
Without meaning to, I’d saddled myself with Tracy Anderson’s 30-Day Method, when I’d only wanted a little exercise DVD I could occasionally pop into my laptop and do my uncoordinated best to follow along, for one or three times before returning it to the library. Forever.
But now I had a book. And for reasons I’ll never understand – maybe because she is, after all, the woman credited with Gwyneth Paltrow’s ‘physical transformation’ – I decided to attempt the 30 Day Method.
Exercise and me, we’ve had a rocky history. To paraphrase Gloria Steinem, ‘I do not like to exercise, I like to have exercised.’ I’ve just never, and I do mean never, been able to muster any excitement at the thought of an elevated heart rate accompanied by perspiration and a beet-red face. So I go through periods of inactivity and then succumb to feelings of guilt about said inactivity and then I try to exercise. A little.
According to my dailymile.com ‘annual report’, I ran 29 miles. In 2012. No need to do the math on that.
The professor and I used to live across the street from two older exercise enthusiasts. He was a triathlete, the color of terra cotta most of the year because of the amount of time he spent outdoors, and she was a dedicated, daily walker and bike rider. I remember one summer day, she’d just had back surgery, and her group of friends pulled up in the driveway and led her out the door and up and down the street for a walk.
That’s when I really knew I was lazy.
So now that I’m tipping the scales on the 30-39 age scale, I decided it’s perhaps time, once and for all, to conquer my personal Everest; to become, if not one of those crazy exercise-aholics, then at least a person who exercises…..on a regular basis. Throughout the whole year [ish], instead of just the two warm months of the year.
So here I am. With twelve days of ‘Muscle Design’ and ‘Cardio’ behind me. Twelve days of staring at [and mocking] Tracy wearing a silk culottes and halter top ensemble whilst pouting. Glaring. Pouting. Glaring and spewing forth scoff-inducing phrases like ‘the cross-vectors of force’ and nonsensical instructions to bend my leg behind me ‘at an attitude’ or swing it out to the side at a 90 degree angle.
Dear Tracy: Perhaps, if I’d trained to be a dancer, I might be able to swing my leg out at a 90 degree angle. But I didn’t, I trained to sit on a piano bench. [Which, you'll be pleased to know, I'm pretty good at - straight spine and all of that.] So the whole 90 degree thing? Not really happening. At all.
I’ve avoided the ‘book’ as much as possible, because it reads much like a bad-news letter. I skimmed and thought I understood the gist: do at least 40 reps of these 16 exercises every day for ten days and then move on to the next set of 16 exercises, rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat. Arrive at magical transformation into a dark-haired, less-glam version of Gwyneth Paltrow.
But there was more. You were also supposed to do the cardio. So I did one of the two cardio workouts, thinking she’d included two so you could do a different one each day – ‘mix it up’ and all that. And then I read the book. She doesn’t want you to do 1 workout a day. Or even 2. She wants you to do both workouts, twice. Every day. For thirty days.
Which means this runner of 29 miles in 12 months now spends an hour and 45 minutes exercising. Every night.
And then of course there’s her eating plan. But that’s where I drew the line. I’m already leading a mostly gluten and dairyless existence, I’m really not going to bother treating myself to ‘cucumber relish’ and choco-chestnut pudding. I’ll just keep repeating her sage advice: ‘Until you can do forty to forty-five minutes of cardio a day, dripping with sweat, you really can’t eat what you want,’ and then maybe I won’t eat 12 Lindt Snowman Truffles in one sitting.
I wish I could say I enjoyed this foray into the world of fitness and that I don’t spend every waking hour dreading the arrival of my early-evening date with sweaty, leg-bending hell. [That I enjoy being upside down on a chair doing my best to lift my bent leg in the air more than......twice.]
But I can’t, not yet. Maybe in 18 days, I will.