I sat at the end of a bench. The temperature was edging toward the 100 degree mark and it was not even noon. Sweat rolled down into my eyes and off the tip of my nose into the grass between my feet. My legs were shaking to badly for me to stand up. My stomach turned and threatened to empty its sparse contents at any moment. My head was tucked down between my knees as I sucked in lung full after lung full of hot summer air. A few feet away I could hear the strained grunts and utterances of frustration from the women I was with. A wave of dizziness passed over me and I had to squeeze my eyes shut and try and talk myself down.
I did this to myself. We all chose to do this. We chose to place ourselves in this painful position for our own good; and it is good.
Twice a week my best friend, the mighty B, hosts what she refers to as her Junkyard Gym sessions. She has amassed a good deal of exercise equipment and general knowledge through her own personal journey of fitness and athleticism and has decided to share all of this with her people. She is one of the top ranked amateur Womans Highland Gamers in the country and has been working to improve her body for years now. There are not many other women in my life that I would trust to help me with anything physical.
Each day as we walk into her garage she has set up the white board with a list of activities we are going to be doing. We have a chance to ask questions if a particular exercise is foreign to us, or if we still need help on correct form. After that we scatter. Everyone finds a station in the rotation they want to start with, and we are off.
There are no rules on how many reps you do, just get through three circuits. We try and go in order but sometimes we forget and switch things up a little. Everyone is there to help if someone needs their feet held or a spot. Sometimes the exercise in rotation is just not something one of us can physically do due to injuries and limitations, but B always has a substitute ready to go.
The only real rule is not to be negative. There are always a slew of negative and foul words coming out of someones mouth as they struggle through a particularly tough exercise. I swear the things we all say while planking would make a sailor blush, but we never stop. They are just words we need to make us finish.
Our own words also go mostly unheard as everyone else there is ready to lend you support. We congratulate one another on something difficult, reassure each other that we are doing a good job, and anything else we can say to make it through. This is a group effort.
I find myself flipping giant tractor tires, dragging a 90 pound sled like a plow horse through the alley, swinging kettle-bells around, passing medicine balls, slinging huge ropes, planking, doing all manner of things with a myriad of different hand weights, squats, jumping rope, and anything else B thinks of that day to keep thing fresh and challenge us. I never thought I would ever do even half of these things. I am not a physical person.
Still I find myself going back time after time because I know I should. It is a safe place to do the work I need to do and not feel selfconscious about it. These women, and men as well, are all my friends, and none of them are judging me. None of us are in the same place physically, we all have varying limitations, and we all do things in different manners. We all care about each other though, and all we want is for everyone to be healthy and happy.
I sit here now, sore in places I wasn't expecting to be sore in, and even more sore in places I knew would hurt. I feel the dull ache of working out and doing it well. I know tomorrow will probably be worse, but by Wednesday I will be fine. That will be just in time to go and do it again.
I am doing this to myself. It is my choice. While I might not really enjoy it, or always want to do it, I am very happy I am. I am happy that I have my B, and all the other sweat angels, to help me through.