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Humiliation has a new face, and it looks just like mine.

I made reference in this post to the painful fact that John and I have joined a gym. In case anyone has ever wondered, let me clarify: John and I are not Gym People. We are like the opposite of Gym People. We are more like Chair People, really. But we're also sick of feeling exhausted and overwhelmed all the time, and of walking from room to room of our chaotic house and having our eyes glaze over in fatigue and incapacitation: even if we start to make this place more presentable and organized, we'll never maintain it, so let's just go back to our respective chairs and plan on addressing all of these piles "tomorrow," when we'll surely feel less stressed. It seems illogical to bring more physical demands into any mix involving exhaustion, but there was a time when we regularly exercised and ate mindfully, and I don't remember feeling fatigued and overwhelmed despite the fact that we had just as many stress-inducers in our lives (well, okay, maybe a few less, now that I think about it). We both know enough about health that we don't have to be convinced that exercise and diet are critical: we just have to make ourselves DO IT, and that's where our weakness as Chair People comes in and screws everything up for us.

Our new gym is big on personal trainers; John and I each have one. John had his first session earlier this week, when I was still recovering from Operation Don't Kill Your Kids Because of Desitin and thus avoiding any activity more strenuous than lifting something about the size, shape, and weight of, say, a bottle of wine. Or four. He called me at work after his session telling me how his trainer almost killed him, or some such nonsense.

Me: *Yawn.* Oh, so it was a hard workout?
John: Are you hearing me? Medicine ball. Over my head. While balancing on an unstable apparatus.
Me: You know, I have to go - I need to run by the vending machine before my meeting.
John: Heh heh. Just wait. JUST. YOU. WAIT.
Me: Should I get chips or candy? I just don't know!

Last night was my first session. Not only was it my first session, it was the first time I'd exerted myself in about six days. In addition to being an ardent Chair Person, or maybe because of that sad fact, I am EXTREMELY uncoordinated. I never dance or do anything that would look remotely graceful because I always feel like my limbs are flailing about, almost out of my control. No, scratch that: definitely out of my control. What evil puppet master controls my clumsy movements? Whoever it is got together with my trainer and had a great laugh last night, I'll tell you that.

Trainer: We're going to start with flexibility, put your hand on this ball palm out and stretch your back.
Me: Like this?
Trainer: Palm OUT.
Me: Like this?
Trainer (physically moving my hand): Palm OUT. There, like that. No! Keep it RIGHT there.
Me: Oh, palm OUT. Why didn't you say so?

And that was just the pre-workout stretch. Next came the hard parts. There were pieces of equipment that looked more like torture devices, and there were pieces of equipment that looked simple and inviting, like big, squishy balls and really fun wobble boards. A "wobble board" must be fun, right?

Trainer: Just stand there and balance.
Me (feet on board): Okay! Balance!
Me (board slams to the right): Whoah.
Me (board slams to the left): Uh.
Me (board slams to the right): So, how?
Trainer: Just stand with your feet evenly positioned and try to balance your body on the board.
Me (furrowing brow, sweating, board slamming back and forth wildly): That's what I'm trying to - crap! - do.
Trainer: Now do squats while you're trying to balance.
Me (glaring at him, bending knees, arms out in front, board still slamming around under me): Whoah, it's shaking even more.
Trainer (laughing): That happens to everyone, keep going.
Me (board shaking so hard my face is jiggling): I-i-iiiiitttt-tt-tt ddd-ddd-d-ddddooesssss-s-s?

Each exercise became more and more of a humiliation extravaganza, the pinnacle of which involved a simple request for me to jump rope. Breathless, my face bright, BRIGHT red with effort that probably wouldn't have elicited a single drop of sweat from my trainer, my glasses fogging up, my limp, dirty hair hanging in my eyes, I said shakily when he handed me the rope, "Heh. It's been a long time." He looked concerned by now, like he was wondering if this next step was really a wise one. "We're going to do 75 jumps," he said. I swung the rope over my head and discovered that it was actually a three pound cable, which landed - THUMP! - in front of my feet, which were apparently refusing to move off of the floor after the balancing, jumping, and running I'd already done. I tried again halfheartedly, and this time made it over, then swung the rope around for my second jump - but no, just another THUMP! at my feet. I started again, this time utilizing the "skip jump" to really dig that humiliation knife in as deep as it could possibly go. There's just nothing quite like skip-jumproping and tripping every five jumps (literally) in a bright room with lots of mirrors - unless, of course, you add being watched by dozens of muscular, well-postured, clean-cut people who can jump rope the grown-up way with both feet coming off the ground even if they aren't concentrating, which, believe me, I WAS.

Trainer: Both feet off the ground, Kristen.
Trainer (looking at clock): Tell you what. I'll let you do one foot at a time. Just don't stop anymore.
Me: Blink. Blink blink.

Poor guy thought I was stopping on purpose! Bless his innocent heart, thinking I was just lazy and tired, and not understanding that I am actually, in addition to being lazy and tired, just INCAPABLE of jumping rope. That innocence might be an endearing quality to me if I didn't want to kill him. Unfortunately, I think he's going to kill me first. If not through physical pain and humiliation, then through good old-fashioned homicide. "Don't worry," he told me as we moved to the final balancing exercise, "you're doing fine. I've seen a lot worse, believe me." Oh, goodie. Now I feel so much better. And not at all like a lumpy, uncoordinated puppet.