I’m going down-ward facing dog

I like the East. More specifically, the Far East.

I generally like things that come from that direction. Yoga, sushi, incense, pad thai, smart people, pho, sandals, cows, Buddha, egg rolls. I like Taekwondo in theory, but not practice. Much like the way I feel about Tai Chi.

Yesterday, in my relentless pursuit to try all things Oriental-yet-terribly-sabotaged-by-the-West, I attended the most interesting yoga class of my entire life. Now, when I say yoga class, I should clarify that, yes, the “curriculum” taught was yoga in nature, but the “classroom” setting was an aerobics studio inside a gym. I don’t consider yoga classes offered between Zumba and Cardio Crazy Pump Level 2 to be real yoga classes. I don’t care how Asian the instructor.

My instructor was not Asian or Indian or Far Easterneese. Although, due to a series of cosmetic enhancements that magically pulled her cheeks back to her ears, her eyes were slightly slanted. But that’s as Asian as it got. Her hair was dyed the exact same shade as a Sanford Major Accent Highlighting Marker and she was…how can I put this…fat. Well. That’s harsh. She was fat for an instructor. Morbidly obese by Hollywood standards. During certain poses her belly would flop over the elastic band of her flowy yoga pants. But, I’m getting ahead of myself.

As I laid my mat down at the back of studio, a student asked the instructor why she missed last class.

“Well, earlier that day I had an allergic reaction to a mosquito bite and then my sister was held hostage,” she answered.

I looked up from my mat in disbelief. Kicking myself for not bringing a notepad, I made a conscious effort to memorize every word.

Between the gasps and the murmurs of the students she spoke again, “So, I had double the reason to not come to class.”

Class began with a meditation. The background music was relaxing, but not loud enough to drown out the grunts and bangs from the free weight room directly behind the back wall. We collectively sent Mother Earth positive energy with a green light from our eyebrows. Luckily, I had just had mine trimmed, so I felt my light was especially potent.

You’re welcome planet.

Once practice started, I noticed that the instructor did not remove her shoes. Her Vibram FiveFingers stayed securely fastened. Maybe she was concealing ugly toes. Maybe she suffers from chronic foot sweat. Maybe her feet smell. I don’t know. I can’t be sure. But, what I do know is that her shoes prevented her from executing a lot of the positions.

Maybe it wasn’t the shoes. Maybe she really couldn’t do the poses. She would try, though. She would really give it a shot. And then, she’d get up and try and help the students with encouraging words like, “Oh, come on, you can do this.”

When it came time for handstands I stayed put, on my mat. First, I was wearing a weak sports bra and didn’t want to suffocate myself with my own boobs. And, second, I wanted to watch because, as I suspected, nothing good could come out of a room full of menopause led by botox.

Not thirty seconds into the handstand exercise, one student slams full force into the mirror, as she kicked up her legs with too much force. Her elbows buckled and slid down the mirror like a tree being chopped down. She took two other students with her. Like dominoes.

Three women tangled on the floor. I couldn’t tell if they were laughing or crying. I was doing both.

During the cool down she kept asking me to relax my face, which I found very hypocritical, considering her face was permanently stressed. She sprayed me down with “aroma therapy,” to help, but it made it worse, as I was convinced she used that same spray bottle to spritz down her possibly putrid feet.

Were the mosquito bites on her toes?


Sure, I’ve written about the perils of working out in previous entries (see Pain, pain go away and Kiss, kiss), but a recent incident has inspired me to once again write about the space where men and women go sweat away the whipped cream from the skinny Frappuccinos they secretly gulped minutes before entering the doors of — THE GYM (echoing sound effect).

The gym is an intimidating place filled with potentially obnoxious people. I like to compare it to the Palmetto Expressway between the 36th Street and 74th Street exits. Particularly how we merge onto the highway as fast as possible, while not making eye contact with any of the other drivers and certainly not entertaining conversations from trucks. Instead, we blast our music and drive forward. This is exactly how I gym.

However, during a recent visit to the workout emporium, I was left with no choice but to speak directly to a patron. I wouldn’t have noticed the older gentleman with excessively white sneakers and matching tube socks that extended midway up his calves, but he was on my leg press machine. Now, I say my leg press machine because this machine is my favorite machine in the whole sweat lodge. First, hardly anyone uses it, so I’ve convinced myself it’s cleaner than the other machines. And, second, I have a specific routine that I’ve somewhat invented which makes me feel more accomplished than Jillian Michaels.

But, there was this old guy. Balding. With glasses. Awkward. Hovering over my machine. Pretending to do reps (I counted 4 presses and then he’d get up). During his rests, he would pull out a BlackBerry from his pocket and fiddle with it. What was he doing? And, really, whose email was he waiting for that was so important? But, most importantly, when is he going to be done with my machine?

And then I caught his sight line and that of his BlackBerry. He was checking out and photographing a woman on the ab machine.

This angered me so much – not so much that he was a perv, but more so because he was using my machine as a guise for his grossness – that I walked over to him. I pulled the ear buds from my ears and barked out a deep and curt, “Excuse me.” The perv’s baby blue eyes were now on me, but his look was one of a frail and scared little man.

I almost felt bad for him. I almost understood that at his age, this is the closest he can come to attractive women. I almost accepted that he was conditioned to not think that women were more than just sex objects. Almost. But he was on my machine and I needed him to move.

So, I said:

“How many more photos, I mean reps do you have left?”

And the perv lowered his head and said he was done.

Wait loss

Queen, the greatest band ever, released Fat Bottomed Girls the year I was born. The actual year I was born! Can you imagine? What vision and foresight.

I didn’t really understand what I had until the late 80’s/early 90’s gave birth to Miami’s very own 2 Live Crew, once again glorifying shapely (and slutty) women. It was then that I realized that I was sitting on a hot piece of real estate. My booty shaking was almost a replica of that of the video models that starred in Pop that Coochie.

Perhaps it was all that dancing that kept me on the slimmer side of the Weight Watchers scale. But, even at my thinnest, my ass was always two sizes ahead in the double digits. And, for a long time, that was okay.

It wasn’t until Sisqo’s Thong Song that things started to take a turn for the worse. Thongs. Sure. I had them in all colors. But a few years into the millenium, I became happily settled, which is code for weight gain. One day, when disrobing to Dirty Vegas, I noticed that my ass had actually eaten my thong.

This wasn’t new, the week prior, my belly actually ate my navel ring. That and the tattoo of the sun strategically located near my pelvis now enveloped my entire vagina.

I spent a small fortune on gym memberships and personal trainers. I joined Weight Watchers and nearly starved myself for a week, only to lose zero pounds at weigh-in. That’s zero with a capital nothing. I had healthy gourmet food delivered to my door, only to end up never wanting to so much as look at a baby carrot again. Nothing I did changed the shape or size of my ass or body for that matter. Nothing.  

But, really, it wasn’t a big deal. I had convinced myself that I had Madonna’s arms. And that, I thought, was all I needed to prove that I was somewhat in shape. Until, well, until the unfortunate misfortune of being illuminated with the wrong lighting, while walking across the dance floor, while wearing a sleeveless dress, while being photographed from the back.

“Is that me?” I thought. “Why does my arm look like the surface of the moon?”

Naturally, I panicked. I quickly decided that I would put myself on some sort of strange regiment. One that would help me lose my Freshman 15, the happily married 20 and the extra 30 from quitting smoking. One that would restore my celestial tattoo and help locate my purple thong – which I loved. 

But, in order for me to do this, I need a song. Just like Fat Bottom Girls predisposed me to voluptuousness, I need a new song to inspire me to put this Snickers bar down and get to the gym.

Like Rocky’s Eye of the Tiger or Space Jam’s I believe I can fly, I need my very own song that plays when I reach the top of the stairs and vomit my tall cafe vanilla frapuccino with whip.

So, after much research, focus group testing and deliberation, I’ve decided on Heavy D & The Boyz’s hip-hop classic, Now that we found love. Among the reasons, Heavy D is clearly, well, heavy. He and his dancers wear saran-wrap to get rid of that water weight, probably to fit into their skinny jeans later that night. And, the lyrics include gems like: 

So what’s it gonna be/Me or the TV  Doesn’t that scream, “hey, get off your butt, your big, excruciatingly large, butt”?

How about: Shake me, Shake me/Baby baby bake me (baked, not fried)

And, my personal favorite line of: (Now) I dig the way you wiggle/You don’t jiggle/Once you jiggle/So hand over your love/Cause it’s heavier

See you at the gym. I’ll be the fat bottom girl working out my arms in the lime-green rain coat.