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Once a person reaches a certain age milestone in her life, “going to the gym” means something entirely different than it did a mere decade before.

In my twenties, when my metabolism was working as biologically intended, a swift walk upstairs would be enough to burn off 9000 calories and go into negative numbers in pant sizes at Benetton. At that time, “working out” was an aerobics class once a month that would be sufficient to justify the membership and the Olivia Newton John leg warmers.

Today, not in my twenties or thirties, it’s a little different.

First off, there is no way on earth I’m spending any sort of money on clothing designed to hurt me. Spandex only looks good on the after photos of the gym experience, not the before or during. If I wanted to be wrapped in synthetic fabric that made me sweat, I’d hug an IRS agent.

Clad in my ill-fitting T-shirts and yoga pants, I’d have been happy just to spend the mornings of my Golden Years on the treadmill, endlessly cycling through segments of Live with Kelly and Michael subtitled, but my friend workout partner convinced me we need to step things up and attend a “body sculpt” class. I failed to mention aloud that although I am indeed in the beginning stages of osteoporosis, I don’t think human bone is sculpt-able material, but I acquiesced and prepared to be molded.

In body sculpting, chisels are about the only tools not used. The first ten minutes of the class are spent on a scavenger hunt through the YMCA to find all of the various items needed for people over 35 to lose 16 ounces. There is the mat, the step, giant inflatable balls, half giant inflatable balls, weights--both light and heavy depending on the sadism of the instructor--and finally, the bands.

The bands.

And although they resemble jump ropes, the bands are entirely different as there is no jumping; only the bandaging of the hyper-extended limbs that occur on every single exercise.

It’s curious that they feel the need to utilize all of these various and sundry apparatuses as with the exercise floor so crowded, someone is sure to trip and break a hip. And no one would even hear their cries of pain over the overly-loud Motown music from the 60’s on 6 satellite radio channel.

This was all going through my mind as I stumbled awkwardly through the first few refrains of “What’s going on,” wondering the same exact thing. The instructor then barked out a series of instructions that ended with the band being precariously wrapped around our feet, arms and necks resembling a room filled with human slingshots. Very unsteady slingshots. Made from brittle limbs from a tree with Dutch Elm disease. And readers.

It wasn’t exactly the body sculpture I had imagined.

I resisted both the temptation and gravity not to launch myself toward the instructor, and from the bit lips and tenuous arthritic grips on the handles around the room, I was not alone. But we all somehow managed to make it through the class without impaling ourselves on a ballet bar. Ensure smoothies at Urban Juicer awaited.

I can’t say it got any easier in the following classes, but my definition of “success” has mellowed as have I.

And certainly the definition of “sculpt” has as well.

So for now, I think I’ll skip the bands and weights, keep the Band Aids and waiting for the treadmill.

We Dutch Elms look better whittled anyway.

©2013 Tracey Henry

Well said Tracey!
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