Here is my latest essay for Kveller
When my NYC gym closed in March due to Covid-19 I figured the break was a sign to relax. Heck, my grandmother lived to 98 and she never lifted more than a six-pound brisket. After the WHO rudely placed me in the “Older People” category, (at 61!) I sat on the couch surfing Netflix, stress-eating salted caramels and Trader Joe’s peanut butter pretzels. For a couple of weeks I binged on My 600-lb Life which should have scared me into starvation mode but weirdly made me want to eat even more. I had to remind myself that we were aiming to Flatten the Curve, not fatten the curves.
Wearing athleisure 24/7 didn’t motivate me even as my iPhone showed my screen time was up 50 percent and I walked 287 steps that day compared to my usual 7400. I hoped all the cleaning and vacuuming I was doing would count for something.
Then I realized I was more than tired. I was exhausted. My lingering scratchy throat escalated along with debilitating headaches, loss of smell and a cough. I had little energy to do anything more than change the channels with the remote. Instead of a virtual workout, I had a virtual visit with my doctor, who diagnosed “the virus”. As friends were posting their neighborhood strolls on Instagram, I just longed to take a walk other than the one from my bed to the couch without getting breathless. The only sweat I produced was from a fever of 102.
After an anxious week, with a 2-hour trip to the ER followed by the purchase of a pulse-oximeter to help differentiate between levels of panic and oxygen, I recovered. I was eager to get healthy and strong and get my pulse racing for the right reasons. I started with some pre-taped classes, but I burned most of my calories jumping up to move my iPad from the floor to the dresser each time the instructor switched to a standing position. I banged my leg on the footboard and spent too much time fixated on a stain on the carpet.
A younger tech-savvy gym buddy did a spreadsheet of live Zoom classes so we could support our favorite instructors and stay connected. I signed in for a Barre class with Kimber (rhymes with limber). Wearing reading glasses while working out was a challenge, but it helped to see the shrunken image of my instructor and get a better peek into everyone’s personal spaces. I waved to the tiny squares with Ali and her baby in NC, Gail in NYC and Alex, back in London with her toddler and puppy. In preparation for a Yoga class with Mike, I even changed out of the Lululemon leggings I’d been wearing for three straight days. I spread out my sky-blue mat, which had been delivered by Amazon and apparently deemed an essential item. I prayed no one would notice the bra I had hastily flung on the floor while changing and hustling to Venmo my on-screen miniature instructor.
Finally I broke down and hopped on the Peloton planted in the middle of our extra bedroom. I admit that I was peeved when my husband bought it last year and intruded on my esthetics. But as I pedaled, an eight-inch, perfect ten instructor with a six-pack and a playlist shouted at me to get in shape. Now it’s the only way to get my heart rate up besides an episode of Homeland.
With some help from my millennial aged son I figured out how to watch classes with an almost life-size person on some SmartTV apps, however I don’t always get sound. And sometimes that person freezes in the middle of downward dog.
There are plenty of challenges. But I’m making it work. I woke with twinges in my thighs and muscle cramps in my butt yesterday. But this time I wasn’t concerned – I had earned them.