| A few weeks ago, I decided it was time to get back in shape.
Because according to my doctor and thousands of fitness experts, "soft pyramid with legs" isn’t the kind
of shape I should be in.
I’ll admit I make this "get back in shape" decision about every year or so. Last year, I bought one
of those exercise machines with a big wheel that you roll across the kitchen floor to tone up your stomach. My
linoleum is a lot flatter now, but I can’t say the same for my stomach. The people in the infomercial ended up
with abs like a washboard. I ended up with abs like a dashboard – soft and padded, with a built-in airbag for
The year before last, I joined a fitness center. For the fourth time. You’d think I’d know better by now. I
just don’t enjoy sweating with strangers. Or having perky young women in Spandex say encouraging things like,
"You’re doing great!" when I know they’re thinking "I’m amazed you lasted this long." I used
my membership card just three times and one of those times was to scrape the ice of my windshield after a snowstorm.
But it was aerobic exercise and I’m counting it!
This year, I decided to try something different. I hired a personal trainer. Personal trainers aren’t just for
movie stars and models -- normal people can afford them. As long as we’re willing to make a few sacrifices. In
my case, I decided to give up ice cream, cable, and professional haircuts. "Who cares what my hair looks
like if the rest of me is buff?," was my thinking.
I hired my personal trainer on the spot over the phone after asking him a few important questions: "Can
you come to my house twice a week and embarrass me into working out? Can you start today? Do you promise not
to laugh?" He passed with flying colors and three days later, there he stood at my door, all six foot five
of him, with shoulders wide enough to land airplanes on and forearms like tree trunks. Not that I noticed. I
am, after all, a married woman.
For the purpose of this article and the sake of my marriage, let’s call my personal trainer, "Doug."
Doug shook my hand and I started to hyperventilate. "See how out of shape I am?," I asked feebly.
He smiled sympathetically. "So, what would you like me to do for you?"
What I wanted to say was "Why don’t you pick me up, throw me across you shoulders, and carry me upstairs,
you big hunk?" Don’t get me wrong! I love my husband and would never break my marriage vows. It’s just
that I’ve just always longed to have someone pick me up like I was as light as a feather. "Uh, I’d like to
work on improving my strength and flexibility," I answered. Doug seemed impressed with my seriousness and
didn’t appear to notice the drooling.
A few minutes later, we hit the streets for a "nice short walk." His words. But since his legs came
up to my shoulders, it took me four steps for his every one. I finally understood how my dachshunds feel. "How
are you doing?," Doug asked every five minutes. "Just fine," I lied as I wrestled the desire to
plop down in the middle of the street and make like a speed bump. Nothing an IV and a gurney wouldn’t fix right
After what seemed like weeks, but Doug claimed was only twenty minutes, we arrived back at my house. I was just
about to ask him if he’d like some cookies and lemonade, when he suggested we stretch out. His exact words were:
"Why don’t you lie down and let me do all the work?" Well, okay, that sounded easy enough. That is,
until half an hour later when every muscle in my body was screaming for oxygen or chocolate (I often get those
This is where the story takes a strange turn. I was still flat on my back, with Doug kneeling above me pushing
my leg up to my ear when my best friend Rhonda dropped by unexpectedly. Through the open front door, she took
one look at Doug and then at me, then back at Doug. "Am I interrupting something?," she asked, her voice
dripping with innuendo. "Yes, yes!," I wanted to shriek out, "Pain and suffering. You’re interrupting
lots of pain and suffering, you sweet woman!"
Doug was scheduled to come by three days later, but he called and said he had a cold. He didn’t sound like he
had a cold. And I think I heard Rhonda whimpering in the background. She can have him. All I really need is
a new haircut.