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Every morning for the last eight weeks I have awakened with some sort of pain – knee pain, hip pain, arm pain, back pain.

It is, I assume, a by-product from a personal training class I signed up for in late summer when I realized my winter clothes didn’t fit. Desperation set in: Buy new clothes or lose the weight.

Because the program promised to “transform” my body and help me get a handle on my love handles, I signed up. Never mind that the thing takes place at 6 a.m. three days a week. A desperate person is willing to get up at a desperate hour.

The first day we had a test of our abilities. None of mine were remotely impressive. I could barely do a plank, felt like my back was going to give out in a wall sit and got ankle pains when I started to run. (If these terms are alien, join the club. I don’t think anyone actually sits against a wall in real life, but there you go.)

The first “real” day of class involved running and various forms of exercise I shunned in school. I realized a note from my parents wouldn’t do any good with this bunch, so I gutted it out and was as exhausted as I was wringing wet. (I threw the T-shirt. No amount of Tide was going to get the stink out of that.)

Day Two brought its share of fun, too, but because the trainer mixed things up I didn’t feel like I was on the treadmill of death, just waiting for the quick stop to take me.

At the end of two weeks, I had lost four pounds. At the end of three, I had gained one. Realizing 20 pounds in eight weeks was not a realistic goal (come on, I can dream, can’t I?), I focused on other things – like getting up each morning, having something to eat and getting to class in time for the hypnotic “warm-up” on a treadmill.

I still felt sleep-deprived but I came to view this as an important time of day. If I got the exercise out of the way before I even started my day, I was ahead of the game. At 5:30 a.m., traffic is non-existent, stoplights seem synced and no one cares how truly awful you look with bedhead and a wrinkled T-shirt.

At the gym, there are people who look like contestants in “American Ninja Warrior.” They’re fit and they know how to wear Spandex.  I assume they must live in constant pain all the time.

Now when I look at someone who is buff, I realize a look like that doesn’t come without at least a couple of bottles of Advil. And I’m fine with it.

My jaunts may not have transformed my body into something that would make it on the cover of Men’s Health magazine (think of the agony those guys must be in), but they have made their tight winter pants fit and  eliminated the “I’m too busy to work out” excuse I’ve used for more than two years.

As much as I’d love six-pack abs, I know I’m not even going to get growler-sized ones. I’m fine with that, as long as my gut doesn’t stick out so I can’t see the numbers on the scale.

Like those maddening scales at the doctor’s office, ones at the gym are designed to frustrate. They weigh heavy, too, and no matter how many surfaces you try, they still tell you to cling to the more complimentary one you use at home.

Exercise, I’ve learned, can’t be routine. Once you start getting into a rut (“I’ll get on the treadmill for an hour”), your body rebels and won’t react favorably. You’ve got to mix things up, working different muscles each time you make the attempt. If you spend all of your time on an elliptical (notice the facility with which I reference the machines), you’re not going to get results. You’ve got to do those things you hate (and Burpees, I’m looking at you) in order to shake up your body.

While I’m not planning on entering the “Wall Sit” competition in the 2018 Olympics, I do think there’s merit to the exercise.

If you’re perched against a wall – with no chair to hold you – there’s no way anyone can see your stomach.

They're probably too busy calculating how many Advil tablets you’re going to need after the two minutes are up.



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