Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Yoga Broke My Clutch Muscle

I am not averse to trying new types of exercise.

Long ago -- twenty-one years ago, to be precise -- I broke free of my comfort zone for the sake of true love and thoroughly embarrassed myself in front of a room full of strange women by attending my first-ever step aerobic class.

The experience was not unlike running naked outside the glass-walled cafeteria of my college campus at noon. Not that I ever did that, but one of my roommates seemed to make a hobby of it. One day I saw him flash by as I dined with friends near the windows. If he could have overheard the comments people were making, he might have opted to find a new hobby. And it seemed natural that the people surrounding me in that step aerobic class twenty-odd years ago probably were thinking similar things about me. At least I did everyone the favor of keeping my pants on.

As I stepped and grunted and sweated profusely to music I hated, avoiding the judgmental eyes of women who clearly thought the only reason I was attending their exercise class was because I couldn't afford to buy porn, there was no misunderstanding that I was a fish out of water. The next morning drove that point home when every muscle in my body that I ever knew I had, along with dozens of other muscles in places I never expected muscles existed, launched a massive protest. Since then, I have alternately exercised and not exercised depending entirely upon time and desire. Maybe I simply couldn't find room in my schedule to hit the treadmill, let alone walk around the block. Or I might have had the time, but not the inclination. Be honest, sometimes it feels really great to throw fad diets and cautionary medical wisdom to the wind and eat unreasonably satisfying quantities of pizza and chocolate.

But lately, despite a slightly protruding potbelly, I have been dedicated to the whole exercise thing. Four mornings a week at the gym for cycle class, plus one morning on the treadmill, and even though my belt might still strain a bit under the pressure, I feel pretty good about my overall physical condition. Even my doctor agrees, and he almost always finds some vitamin deficiency, hormone imbalance or predisposition to some condition or other to lecture me about.

So, when My Lovely Wife suggested I try yoga, I was all in. She has tried in the past to talk me into trying hot yoga, but I was too smart for that. I break a sweat when I blink too fast. And not a glistening movie star sweat, either. When I sweat I mean it. Sweat pours from my head like water from a ruptured dam, my shirt quickly soaks through (front and back), and my sweaty palms can barely grip the handle bars of the exercycle without risking slippage and a concussion. Hot yoga? Exercising in a room cranked to one-hundred-plus degrees? Ummmmmmmm, no. But regular old yoga in an air-conditioned room with industrial size fans? Why not.

I honestly didn't know what to expect from yoga, other than it would stretch me beyond my limits. Halfway through the class, after getting the hang of downward dog, warrior, flying eagle, and half a dozen other slow-motion disco dance moves, I was sweating and grunting and doing my best to hold position. But when the class ended it all seemed to have gone by rather quickly, leaving me wondering whether or not I had actually worked any muscles at all.

Later that day, however, various muscles around my body began to voice their objection -- upper back, right buttock, thighs, abdomen, arms, left buttock. Driving was an interesting experience, particularly since my car has a manual transmission. I squeaked like a dog's chew toy every time I had to shift gears. Several times it crossed my mind that driving the eight miles from our house to the pool in second gear wouldn't really be an imposition for the cars behind me. Patience is a virtue, right?

But after several days and a return to the routine of early morning cycle class, my body has recovered and I find myself eager to return for another yoga session. Something about the calm pace of the class has me hooked. And how bad can any exercise regimen be when you can do it in bare feet? And when the class ends, you get to lay back on the mat, close your eyes, and fall into a relaxing mini coma.

The only way they could improve on that is to have waitstaff standing by serving pizza and chocolate.

© 2013 Mark Feggeler

Monday, July 15, 2013

Sour Patch Lamaze

The twins have always served to complete the missing parts of each others' personalities. We often joke that, had they been one baby instead of two, they would have been the perfect child. For example:
  • The German is always quiet and reflective. The Italian is always loud and emotional.
  • The German is soft and sedentary. The Italian is sinewy and strong.
  • The German loves peanut butter but hates jelly. The Italian loves jelly but hates peanut butter.
  • The German has excellent hand-eye coordination. He swims like a fish. The Italian does not have excellent hand-eye coordination. He swims like a drowning man being electrocuted while having an epilectic seizure.
Despite their differences, which are endless and register deep down to their inner cores, they desperately need each other. And regardless of the numerous "aw"-inspiring displays of brotherly love this need creates for our amusement, I must admit there are times when the bond does seem a little too tightly fastened. Take the example of the the Sour Patch candies as a case in point.

We were vacationing on Hilton Head Island a few weeks ago and someone with whom we were traveling purchased a bag of sour gummy candies, but several days into the trip had still not opened the bag. One rainy night, as we shopped for contraband candy to sneak into a movie theater for an evening showing of "Despicable Me 2," the German could no longer stand to be denied. For his treat he selected his own bag of sour patch candies. We crept into the theater with eight pounds of sugar in our pockets and left two hours later five pounds of candy -- and several ounces of tooth enamel -- lighter.

On the way back to our rented townhouse, I was groggily attempting to pay attention to the road when I heard My Lovely Wife begin to chuckle. My first thought was that she was recalling some bit of comedy from the movie. That's when she motioned for me to observe the boys.

Turns out the sour candies were so sour that one child alone could not manage the supreme sourness without moral support from the other. As each new morsel was popped into a mouth, the afflicted boy firmly gripped the other's hand. Like coaches in a birthing class, they encouraged each other to squeeze tightly and breathe through the eye-closing, mouth-puckering delight of sour candy pain. I experienced a fleeting flashback to twelve years earlier when I was rubbing My Lovely Wife's lower back and assuring her the epidural was on its way.

At the very least, when it is time for their own children to enter this world, I will be able to advise the boys' future wives they do not need any instruction. They've already experienced sour patch Lamaze.

© 2013 Mark Feggeler