said that Phys. Ed. is a lot of fizz and not much ed. In high school I finagled a note from my
doctor to release me from P.E., but then discovered a California law that
requires that you attend a class for the kids with broken legs and such, where
you can at least wiggle your fingers for an hour. Bored out of my wits, I then
learned that if you don’t dress for gym, you get sent to (horrors!) the
library. Does “Oh, please don’t throw me
into that briar patch!” sound familiar?
I quickly learned how to dodge exercising altogether, and spend the hour
with my beloved books.
I did learn to snow ski and ride
horses, but ball sports were out of the question. Part of this was due to nearsightedness and a
lack of hand-to-eye coordination. And,
yes, part of it was due to an overwhelming lack of interest. Even when I was in news broadcasting I
couldn’t understand why sports became a segment in a newscast about, well, news.
I carefully arranged my college schedule to include no Phys. Ed.
whatsoever, and except for a couple of disastrous tennis and golf dates, I was
in the clear.
After marrying St. Bob, he twice gave me a gym membership
(one of the worst things you can give your wife, and which nearly cost him the
Saint status), but those were short-lived attempts at pleasing a man who thinks
training is fun. We have agreed to
disagree on this, as I hope my workout-loving readers will understand.
Well, today the guillotine fell and my doctor told me to join
a gym. Aha—you’re thinking it’s to lose
weight, aren’t you? Wrong. It’s to strengthen my joints, and get my
muscles to do the job my ligaments will not. This is akin to your doctor telling you that
the best thing for your health would be to stand on a bed of nails, in a
solitary confinement box, for 3 hours every day. Sharp nails.
And while you’re standing there your work is piling up, you’re so bored
you could scream, and you’re surrounded by people who do this all the time and
think you’re a big baby for not wanting to join in. And those people were
earlier dripping with gross, sticky sweat and getting it all over the nail bed.
Four wrist and elbow injections of
cortisone led to this dreadful verdict, a hideous fate I have suspected since I
was diagnosed 30 years ago with hypermobility.
What’s that, you say? It’s an
incurable, inherited syndrome which means I started out life as one of those
double-jointed little kids who could put her ankle behind her neck, bend her
fingers backwards, the whole limber deal.
You can probably think of people you know, this very minute, who can do
Tell them to stop! We are freaks of nature whose tendons are too
long, we sprain easily (even sleeping), and we are in for a boat load of
misery. Think of those little plastic
stick-figure dolls on a round base where you press the button and the doll
collapses, then you let go of the button and it springs back up again. This is us.
Our arms fall out of their sockets, our feet go flat when we stand on
them. In short, we are barely strung
together and by the time we’re 40 most of us have a collection of splints and
braces for every joint. Pregnancy makes it worse because the body produces the
hormone elastin, to make the pelvis loose for birth. Trouble is it makes all the joints even
looser and we hobble around in agony, our knees and hips slipping just from
People with this condition are to
avoid contact sports, running, stretching, and yoga, all of which could lead to
injury. Ultimately we get various kinds
of tendonitis, including tennis elbow for which no tennis was ever played. But I guess that’s better than calling it Laundry Elbow. Or Heavy Purse Elbow.
They recommend two ways to cope. One is
to stand up every 30 minutes, if you happen to be sitting, so your legs don’t try
to disconnect. Can’t you just see
this? I’m to leap to my feet every half
hour in movies and meetings, regardless of those around me. I will become known as “that crazy lady who
jumps up every 30 minutes.” Worse than a
cuckoo clock. The other remedy is what
my doctor suggested: Lift weights and strengthen every joint in the body, a
task I estimate to take a good hour or two every day. And this, in a giant building filled with
people who liked P.E. and have no problem taking several hours away from their
work each week, to get “ripped.” It’s
going to take every shred of restraint I have, to resist trying to enlighten
them, and convince them to engage in productive, profitable desk work. None of them will agree and I will become
known as “that crazy lady who never wears workout clothes.” Please.
It’s going to cost me enough time to drive there and lift weights; I
cannot also include outfit-changing time.
Lucky my nose isn’t out of joint.
Oh, wait; it is.
St. Bob, of course, is trying not to
grin and relish the thought of sharing loud, clanging equipment and telling me
when to inhale and exhale. My ADD will
kick in and I will not remember how many repetitions or sets I have done, thus
I will quit. It will be painful and I
will cry. Ultimately I will go next door
for a milkshake and a Philly Steak sandwich.
There I will meet people from the East Coast who—be still my heart—could
be fellow workaholics, and we will commiserate about what a monumental waste of
time it is to go to a gym. We will form
a Board of Directors of a software and marketing corporation that will make
billions of dollars and I can hire a personal trainer to come to my home. And I will bake her some brownies and read
her my plays and she will laugh her butt off (see?) and all will be well again.
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