Anyone who has ever been to an organized class at a gym will agree that this is not playtime.  This is the time to work harder than you’ve ever worked before so that you can prove to your ego that you are WAY more in shape than the person next to you do something really beautiful for the health of your mind, body and soul.

Today is a particularly interesting challenge because I haven’t been to the gym in well over a month.  Also, the gym is in my home of Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica, a place where the level of humidity will ensure that one will break out into a heavy sweat simply by engaging in a seemingly small amount of exercise…like walking from one side of the house to the other.

Trying to put these unplesant truths outside of my head, I meander into the large open space, behind the multi-centro in downtown PV.  Upon my arrival, I notice that, spaced out around a large circle are various exercise stations at which we are expected to rotate to each one at some point during the class.  Push-up station, burpee station, several ab stations, jumping-over-boxes station…pretty much every horrific exciting and fun activity one could imagine!   The idea is that we spend one minute at each station.  After 2 stations we spend a minute jumping rope as a ´cool down.´  Yes, jumping rope is supposed to be a cool down, so you can imagine the level of difficulty the stations entail.  I would also like to take this opportunity to mention how fascinating this idea of ´time´ is.  The difference between jumping rope for a minute vs. eating an ice cream sundae really does bring up the philisophical discussion around time being simply a perception because I SWEAR that those minutes are entirely different lengths.

Already dripping with perspiration after riding my bike to the gym, I begin on a station where I am expected to jump up, then down to the ground to do a push-up.  Repeat.

OK…wow…this is hard…good thing it’s only a minute.  We must be almost there anyway.  

I await the voice of my savior (the instructor) to say the word ´change,´ indicating that it is time to move onto the next station. My plan is to take my sweet time moving to the next exercise, thereby having a REAL cool down (because that jumping rope line is bullshit).  Alas, no voice comes.  Eventually my mind begins to panic, I imagine much like a passenger on the Titanic upon the realization that the ship is actually sinking.

Seriously…I know it has been a minute.  Hell, it’s been a least two minutes…You asshole instructor!  I trusted you!  I trusted you when you told me it was only going to be a minute.  You have betrayed me.  I feel so abando…

¨Change!¨

And so…for the next century hour, this continuous cycle repeats until I find myself on the floor at one of the ab stations, holding a weight and swaying it from my right side to my left side.  By this time, sweat is literally pouring off my body to the point where I begin to appreciate how much water the human body can store and rather shocked that I haven’t run out yet and simply shriveled up into a pile of bones and skin.  I can barely see, I am so exhausted and I would have probably started crying if my tear ducts weren’t trying to conserve water for perspiration´s sake.

The only moment of sheer joy I experience comes during one of our jumping rope ´cool downs.´  My foot feels funny and I look to down to see that my left shoelace has become untied.  Oh sweet lord…you are good to me!  I stop jumping in order to lean down and tie my shoe.  My heart rate begins to slow to the point where I can’t hear it clammoring in my own ears quite so loud.  I don’t think I’ve been this excited to tie my shoe since I did it for the very first time as a little girl…even then, I don’t think it quite compares to now.

By the end of the class, I can literally wring out my shirt.  The sun has almost set and I mumble a ‘Thank you’ to the instructor.  I climb on my bike and, as I ride home, a nice breeze has grasped hold of the Caribbean and it washes over me like heaven, cooling me down as I let out a big sigh of relief.   Much like new mothers slowly forget the agonizing pain of birth so that nature can ensure she might be willing to further procreate, so goes my experience with the gym.

Hey, that was’t so bad.  I think I’ll go again!