My kids and I spend every day at the Fox Point pool all summer. ALL DAY. We love it not only because we Olsons are part amphibian, but we take friends, my kids take swim lessons, and there's nothing better than the hot sun on your shoulders and flip-flops on your feet. I would wear chlorine as perfume if it were available. I'm not joshing you.
The pool is where I met Marcela. I'd seen her there all summer, but I was too busy gnawing on Twizzlers, guzzling Diet Coke, diving off the diving board, and rounding up my kids and whatever friends they'd brought along to talk with her. Plus, she was crazy-fit. I mean SERIOUSLY fit. Athletic people scared me and made me all the more aware of how athletic I was not. But one day we started talking about weight loss (I'd recently lost 20 pounds with Weight Watchers), and she asked what I was doing for fitness. I made a joke (that's what I do when I'm nervous) and said I didn't have time.
One evening in late September we were talking, and she invited me to attend one of her Crossfit 100 classes. I said "Sure, sure. Maybe I'll see you there." But later that evening I couldn't get it out of my mind. I made the decision to attend the class the next morning (Callie and Henry would be at school and Abe at preschool, so I couldn't even use my kids as an excuse!!!) and I put it on Facebook that I was trying it. I have way too much pride to have to admit "Well, I didn't try the class; I was really busy drinking diet cokes and eating bagels at the bookstore while Abe was at preschool."
Tuesday morning I was actually nervous. Like, queasy nervous. So I ate a huge breakfast (that's also what I do when I'm nervous).
Marcela and the other students greeted me warmly and immediately made me comfortable (well, as comfortable as I could be while wearing tight yoga pants in public, anyhow). We started with three rounds of some basics: jumping jacks, lunges, etc). I thought Oh. My. Gosh. This is a SERIOUS workout. When the first person completed the rounds Marcela started us stretching, and I thought Oh. This is gonna be a nice cool-down after that hard workout.
BUT THEN WE STARTED THE WORKOUT ITSELF.
I thought What the h*ll is going on here? I thought we were DONE. I can't remember what exactly we did that first day (no two workouts are ever the same), but I remember quite well that I had to sit with my head between my knees a few times, and my legs were so wobbly on the way home that I wasn't sure it was safe to drive. I was so sore the next morning my kids had to get their own rain boots out of the basement because I couldn't walk down the stairs.
You have to remember that I'd NEVER exercised. NEVER. In college I did aerobics with the girls from my dorm, but that was just so we'd be cute for frat parties or whatever. I always comforted myself with Oh, you're a book person, not a workout person. (I also comforted myself with cookies, but whatever). I was someone with NO muscle tone whatsoever (in my defense: I did have three babies in four years), and I jumped head-first into a pretty serious exercise class. Marcela did modify things for beginners and made them more intense for really advanced people, but I had too much pride to wimp out. So I tried my hardest.
I couldn't even do a sit-up during those first weeks. I couldn't jog around the block without walking 3/4 of it. But then a classmate would high-five me and yell "You can do it! Keep going!!" I felt so much warmth, camaraderie and encouragement from everyone, and I kept hearing Marcela in my head telling me: Everybody has to start somewhere. Slowly but surely I gained strength and stamina and was so thrilled I did a little dance of triumph when I moved from the 8-pound weights to the 10-pound weights. I did have to start somewhere, but I started. And I keep going.
So that was October. Now it's mid-March, and I'm very proud to say that I can rock 50 sit-ups holding a 15-pound weight above my head. I can jog around the block without stopping. I have muscles I never knew existed, I feel (and look) better, and I have collarbones (Who knew?). My baby Abraham does wall-walks up and down our hallway. Huggins and Abe drag out my yoga mat and play "exercise class." Callie recently suggested that we do laps when the pool opens this summer (she truly IS my daughter). I cannot imagine skipping class, and if I'm really stressed-out, the first thing I think is I need to see if there's an opening in class today. I NEED to workout.
It's a long and sometimes painful journey (mostly in my quads and glutes), but I'm beginning to suspect that there's an athlete hidden somewhere inside of me, and she's trying really, really hard to get out.