Part four of a series

My Fitness Journey: Suspension ropes, spandex and soy milk


I kept a diary during my Fitness Journey, which chronicles my daily activities, experiences, thoughts, conclusions and evaluations. I hope you enjoy reading my summaries and commentaries as much as I have enjoyed writing them.

Day 22

In my previous articles I told you I wanted  to learn something new and to push beyond y comfort zone. I also told you that many core exercises don’t require specialized equipment. However, when I have become skilled at one exercise, Eddie starts to modify it for me and introduces a new piece of equipment. Initially, I had no intention of approaching the TRX suspension ropes; they seemed too menacing. (TRX is an imperfect acronym for Total body Resistance training eXercise.) Made up of nylon straps that suspend from the wall with a buckle and loops for hands or feet, this unassuming piece of equipment intimidated me. But my hesitation disappeared when Eddie showed me how to use it properly. It’s not nearly as scary as I imagined it to be. 

Some of the J-Fitness members I spoke with really like TRX because they felt it helped them develop more upper body strength while minimizing their chance of injury because it’s gentle on the joints and muscles.

The other important factor in my willingness to try something new is that after three weeks, I have begun to develop a rapport with Eddie, and I trust him. I think we’re both learning from each other.

Day 24

I was in Stop & Shop for only a few items – eggs, lettuce, bananas and milk – cruising the perimeter of the store when I heard someone call my name. 


I turned around to find an acquaintance rounding the corner of the ice cream aisle, her cart filled with frozen entrees, sweetened cereals and prepackaged sundries.

“I’ve read your articles in The Jewish Voice, and I am enjoying your ‘journey,’ ” she said as she loosened her grip on the carriage to indicate air quotes.

I finished tenderly inspecting the last egg in the carton. “Thank you.”

“How much weight have you lost? Did you need to lose weight? You eat pretty healthy,” she said in one breath as she viewed the select items in my basket. 

Before I could speak, she continued on, “And where do you find the time?”

Again, I tried to communicate, but her uninterrupted train of thought persisted. Suddenly, without warning, her words came tumbling forth.

“I just don’t have the time. I. Just. Don’t. Have. The. Time. How do you do it? Aren’t you working full time? Still teaching part time, too? Do you exercise after work? Forget the time, who the heck feeeeeeels like it? I am exhausted at the end of the day. Aren’t you tired? By the end of the day, by the end of the week? You don’t workout on the weekends, do you? Oh, I could never. Never, ever. I just don’t have the time. Don’t have the time.”

Have it be known that I did not get a word in edgewise, and thus I was never able to answer her questions, so let me explain. (No doubt she will be reading this.)

I make the time. And I want to do this. This opportunity came about because I was ready and willing. No, I didn’t need to lose weight; that wasn’t why I took on this challenge. 

Am I tired? Of course, I am tired! I am a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, employee and volunteer. But I have discovered that when I am in fit condition, eat well, move my body and get sufficient sleep, I can do more because I have additional energy. 

Let’s face it, we all find time in our day to surf the web, chit chat on the phone or watch the news – because we’ve made those priorities. Often, while I am watching television, I stretch, bend, lift and move. I do not have to break a sweat. I simply need to choose to make a few small changes in my daily routine and stick with it.

Day 26

Last week I decided I would go shopping for workout wear. I wanted something stylish, modest and comfortable. However, most yoga or workout pants are very form fitting, and certain tops reveal bare midriffs or have cap sleeves. (Do those really look attractive on anyone?) As you may remember, there are certain areas of my body of which I am not particularly fond. At this point in our relationship, I am not afraid to admit that my thighs, hips and buttocks are especially troubling to me. One look at my figure and you’ll notice how “full bodied” they are. This ample shape is highly regarded in Baroque art forms – voluptuous women in paintings by Rubens come to mind – but this silhouette is essentially unattractive in our 21st century culture, and we often go to extremes to prevent it. Be that as it may, I was determined to find a fashionable pair of workout pants and matching oisture-wicking shirt. I finally emerged with a suitable fitness outfit two hours later.

Day 28

I’ve gotten a bit cocky. After four weeks of training, I thought I could handle any physical challenge. Thus, I ventured to take a J-Fit class today. Clearly I did not know what I was getting myself into. In the program guide, the description states that J-Fit is the “umbrella term for aerobic and strength training classes.” The description goes on to explain that the class can vary depending on instructor and that participants will “walk out tired and toned.” (Let it be known that I shuffled out feeling weary and wobbly!)

Let me go into more detail:

Envision a room with eight women – of  arying ages, weights, heights, sizes and shapes – trying to jump, stretch, lunge and scuttle in synchronization with an instructor who makes every move look effortless. 

Before the class began, I sized up the other participants. In my cursory appraisal, I assumed that because I appeared to be the youngest in the class, I would be the most agile and sprightly. That was my first mistake. The other participants had taken this class before and were used to the moves.

My second mistake was to wear the new fitness outfit I purchased. I didn’t feel as attractive or comfortable as I did when I was posing in front of a three-way mirror. When I moved, so too did my pants. Every jump made the spandex shift and sag. Finally, nothing says defeat quicker than getting tangled up in your shirt as you lean over to touch the floor and raise one leg up to the sky.

Nevertheless, my wardrobe malfunction was the least of my worries. The class was a challenge for me. Not impossible, but there were certain positions I could not sustain for the prescribed amount of time. It did give me comfort to see the other ladies were making adjustments or accommodations based on their capabilities, range of motion or limitations.

My balance was admirable, but I had very little endurance when it came to all the bouncing. I was convinced that I had not done a jumping jack since I was in the third grade, thus I was awkward and uncoordinated. When the instructor told us to start running, I wondered if the building was on fire. Some women sprinted around the room, others lightly jogged. Me? I lumbered. The first time around I was confident I could keep up the pace. The third time around I felt like I was moving through bubblegum. My whole body felt sluggish and heavy. 

Then we did more jumping! And I was keenly aware of just how much everything jiggled. My thighs wiggled, and my arm flab waggled. Not only did my legs look like Jell-O, but when the class was over, they felt like it too.

Funny thing is, I’ll probably be back next week to do it all over again.