The warm weather and thoughts of mornings at Pensacola Beach and evenings on the porch at Landry’s led to the online impulse-buy of a new summer dress. Putting on shorts brought me to the unfortunate realization that my thighs didn’t look so great; in fact, they looked like they should never see the light of day at all. If I was going to actually wear that dress, I needed to do something.

So, while walking around T.J. in the mornings, I decided to do a few sprints to rev up my routine and burn off some of that extra stuff that swimsuits and short skirts reveal, and I pulled that muscle in my foot. You know the one: the one that gives you heel pain.

WebMD says when this happens, you cannot walk or run until it is healed, and that may take 3 months or more.

So I had to find another way to get my cardio. I was thinking I would find a gym and ride a bike for a while, until my foot is better. I hate riding a stationary bike, but what else can I do, if I can’t walk?

So I looked in Facebook (the business directory here) and found a gym near my neighborhood. Their page says you can pay by the week, every two weeks, or by the month. Awesome. I shot them a message and they said, Sure, come on.

When I got there,  I told the young man behind the window who I was and that we had spoken in Facebook.  I said I was going to try it for a week. The young man (let’s call him Ricky) wrote my name down and took my money. The subject of age and health history never came up. I asked if he needed my ID, and he said, No, it was ok; he was going to introduce me to the coach.

The Facebook page had mentioned that with your membership, a trainer came at no extra cost.

So I went in, and Ricky introduced me to Todd.

Good Lord.

Okay, so his name isn’t really Todd, but since all names are being changed to protect the innocent (me), that’s what we’re gonna say it is. He’s a young god over six feet tall with shoulders as big as my refrigerator.

Ricky asked if I speak Spanish, and I answered “un poquito” but I guess he thought that would be enough because, after he told Todd about my foot injury and Todd had asked if my knees are okay, I was turned over to my coach.

Did I mention that I hadn’t been inside a gym for almost a year?

I hadn’t even brought a water bottle.

Todd took me through two upper-body exercises with weights (four sets of twelve reps each) and then started me on the third. I told him that I had not eaten any carbs all day, and I wasn’t up for a whole workout, but he said it didn’t matter because we were working the muscles.

At least, that’s what I thought he said.

He also said that we wouldn’t do the whole-body workout today, only upper body; we would do lower body tomorrow.

I was relieved to hear it.

After the fourth unit of exercise, I went to get some water. The bottle wobbled as I raised it to my mouth. I sat down on a bench.

In a minute, Todd came to find me. He asked if I was dizzy. I said, no, I’m fine. He then led me to the bike. I climbed up and he said, “Thirty minutes.”

He said it in English, so there was no mistaking it.

I said, “I don’t think I can do thirty minutes.”

He asked didn’t I have time, did I need to be somewhere? I said no, I just didn’t think my body had thirty minutes of bike riding in it.

He gave me the lecture about the way cardio burns fat and how it’s necessary to sustain the target heart rate for a minimum amount of time (which I will argue with him about later, but in that moment I had neither the vocabulary nor the strength). I said I could do twenty, with slow/fast intervals. He said, “Twenty-five.”

I just said okay and let him set the timer.

The last stationary bike I was on had a nice big seat. This one had an ordinary little bike seat.


I did my warm-up at a fair pace.  After that, watching the clock, every two minutes or so I kicked up the speed and gave it all I had for 30-45 seconds.  Soon, jabs from my sciatic nerves had me wiggling around on the pointy little seat. I leaned forward, then straightened up. I gripped the handles to check my heart rate; this took my attention temporarily off the big needles that were stabbing me in the ass. I considered the  possibility that I might not be able to walk out of the place.

After the third interval, I slowed my pace and pedaled until my heart rate was back down below 100.

When twenty minutes had passed, I got off the bike. My glutes felt like something that had been tied into big knots. I looked around for a place to do some stretches but I didn’t see a stretch-friendly spot so I just tottered out onto the street and fell into a taxi.

By the time I got home, I had mostly recovered my breath and the stabbing pains in my butt had subsided.

I wondered what Todd would have for me the next day.

I did want to wear that dress.


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