I am medium fit. Compared to people who don’t exercise at all I am in great shape. Compared to people who take it seriously, I am weak as Lipton tea (we prefer PG Tips). The bulk of my exercise comes from walking dogs. We average a mile and half a day and hike once on the weekends. This doesn’t make me buff or visually interesting but it does allow for beer drinking without too much mid section expansion. A good trade in my mind. I also do precisely one yoga class a week and have for several decades. This keeps neck and back tension at bay and sort of feels like having the correct amount of oil in car, just enough for base line maintenance. Twenty years in and I still can’t put my head on my knees with straight legs. Oh well. Cross that off the bucket list.
Before we get to what happened you need to know I take the easiest class. It’s only an hour and follows the same series of postures every time allowing me to track where we are in the routine and conserve energy so I know I can do it all. I keep a post-it note on my computer with the times of the classes I like. They change the schedule and teachers every week so I use the post-it note method regularly. Working freelance, I never know what day is going to be best.
My stupid post it note said there was a 1:30 class. I rode my bike to the studio, about a mile away. There are two class rooms, the name and time of the class is written on the door so you know which one to enter. I noticed the door said 1:30 but rather than Modo (my class) it said The Workout. I turned back to the young guy filling his water bottle behind me and asked him what kind of class that was. He said, “Their hardest”.
He said something about interval training.
My brain is calculating like crazy. Is this some cross fit level business? How sore and depleted will I be in an hour? Will I be able to ride my bike home?
The room was warm as always, it’s a hot yoga studio after all. There are words written on the mirror. I’ve never seen that. They say things like Death Lunges, Craptastic Curls and Adios Biceps. I don’t know what it said. I can’t remember but here’s what happened.
The teacher comes in and says “Who here thinks this is a yoga class?” I don’t raise my hand. We proceed to do 3 ten minute sets of exercise where you rotate from one awful thing to the next with out stopping for ten minutes. In between there is a tiny amount of slumping on the ground and a lot of one off exercises. The only reason any of this can work at all is because the speakers are loudly pumping out an analogous interval merry go round of Ozzy Osborne, Rage Against the Machine and Soundgarden. Dear God Thank You for Hard Rock. Thank you for the unparalleled vocal righteous anger that is the voice of Zack de le Rocha. Without him I could not have done 5000 pushups.
I honestly don’t have much memory of the ordeal. It didn’t take long for me to pass into an altered state. The final exercise was abs. At first it felt so great just to be butt down not using my arms which had taken out a full ivy league tuition level of lactic acid debt. I feared we wouldn’t be using them again for decades. I proudly had knees bent and feet off the ground as we twisted left to right and right to left for 5 solid days. By the end my feet were embedded in the mat like rebar in cement reducing needed core strength by as much as possible, I had utterly disassociated from the concept of feet and I was swaying more than twisting. I am not sure I have ever really truly collapsed before this class but at the end of that final exercise I involuntarily relinquished all muscle control and flattened like spilled ice cream on hot pavement.
Several eons passed and we figured out global warming and tribalism.
Wait, no, that didn’t happen. It was probably only a few minutes and the world was mostly the same except that when I attempted to become vertical again, I was over taken with a light headedness which quickly morphed into a need to puke. I didn’t. That’s nice. I sat semi-catatonic in the changing room for a while. Slowly my sense of self came back and with it a giddy wad of happiness. What is a giddy wad you ask. Go do an interval training sesh and find out!
I rode my bike home in 1st gear, peddling so slow it’s amazing the bike didn’t topple over. It wasn’t even the muscle fatigue I had to worry about. I was riding while extremely high. Some Venice Italy level flooding of endorphins was turning me into a day tripper. And I liked it. I was having thoughts of doing it again. I can’t tell you how strange that is. It’s the opposite reaction I usually have to discomfort.
It took 4 whole days to get back to normal. I am not fit enough to do another class yet I am contemplating it. Not what I expected.