She’s tried gym classes, Jillian Michaels DVDs. She’s run around the track, jogged over wooded trails studded with stones. She’s done two-a-days, eager teens taking turns running drills, hard stops at the line, lifting barbells in the weight room behind the lunch room behind the theater where they held the high school dances.
She’s bought stretch bands, barbells, balance balls, plastic steps with risers. She found a pull up bar for free on the local mom’s list serve. They buy and sell fancy rain boots and football tickets and ask each other for advice on family-friendly resorts in Zihuatanejo and the best estate planning attorneys and drop-in childcare and ways to get kids involved with climate action and places for Santa photos over the holidays. She fits right in.
She’s taken yoga classes – not hot – that seems unnecessarily suffocating. Spongy mats laid out on the hardwood floor, downward dog and sun salutations with arched backs into flexed toes. Tree pose her favorite: upright and accomplished, easily mastered with her gift of balance and big feet.
She’s taken pre-dawn boot camps, meeting a group of head-lamped women exclaiming encouragement as they huff up dozens of stairs, breath billowing into the chill morning, sweat trapped under layers of workout gear. She liked having others to exercise with, run hills or jump into burpees, but the classes just weren’t sustainable after having her own children. The other demands of the morning, of harried family life took reign.
She’s had an online trainer, focused and encouraging but intimidating with her exposed washboard abs. She’d never dieted but for the first time in her life she paid attention to what she ate, limited her junk food, her evening snacking; stopped eating sweets and bags of chips and salsa and glasses of wine whenever she wanted. She stopped indulging in huge bowls of homemade popcorn, puffed and crunchy, doused in hot butter, sprinkled with salt, handfuls melting unceremoniously in her eager mouth, absently stuffed while watching another Netflix episode of Breaking Bad or The Wire or Game of Thrones. She got enough sleep. Felt strong, empowered.
She’s pushed an unwieldy jogging stroller around the lake, 3.2 miles of sneakers pounding on damp asphalt, muddy gravel, swerving this way and the other to avoid the deep ruts, the many pools of murky water that coalesce after a spring rain. She got to know each curve of the path, each puddle, each turn of season that marked the route like an aging backyard maple, imperceptibly swelling trunk, leaves changing and falling and budding again.
And maybe that’s fitness: fits and starts and seasons and patterns. Lately she’s fallen back into her flesh, into her routine, into her strength and stamina; the muscles build, the mind clears and her body is her own again.