Is That My Ride?
Doris D. Meneses
The first real day of Boot Camp has arrived. After having a stressful day at work, I head out to the YMCA thinking that it is the first day and it will be fairly easy. I have decided to attend the evening class due to the fact that the class at six in the morning would cut into my beauty sleep time and, Lord knows, I need all the beauty sleep I can get!
The Boot Camp recruits gather in the lobby of the YMCA until Mikey the Manly Marine and Rambo Rico show up and immediately instruct us in loud, commandeering voices to line up. Two single lines. No talking. We are marched through the double doors into the hallway and are told to pick up mats and weights quietly and line up again. We follow orders and are marched outside and herded into the lined parking spaces, two recruits to a parking space, like school children ready to play red rover. Only later would I realize that it was like cattle being led to the slaughterhouse! Our mats are placed on the ground in a line with weights to the side. Water bottles are placed behind the parking space. Everything must be in precise order and if it is not correct, we are told to fix it immediately. There is no chit chat with others. Our instructors explain to us that we are to listen carefully. When they call “eyeballs” we are to yell “snap” and we had better be looking at our instructor. When they say “ready” we are to reply “ready” and to be ready to move to the next exercise. If I didn’t realize it before, I am in Boot Camp now!
Mikey and Rico then proceed to stretch us. We do simple things like touching your toes with your feet together, spreading your legs and placing your palms flat on the ground and grasping your hands behind your back. I struggle but cannot physically do any of these moves. I cannot touch my toes as there is something in the way called a belly. I cannot place palms on the ground as my body is so stiff it will not go there. I cannot reach my two hands behind my back due to the layers of fat that interfere with the process. I try my best and reach as far as I can to no avail. The realization that I cannot even grasp my two hands behind my back hits me and my eyes begin to fill. My mind screams, “Don’t cry…don’t let them see you cry!” I wonder if others are looking at me and try to shrink into the background but realize there is no way to hide a 54 year old obese woman. I succeed in holding the river back but I feel like the tin man in the Wizard of Oz who needs a good oiling!
Next we are told to line up in two lines. We start off walking through the parking lot. We are instructed to march…..left, right, left, right. Soon the pace is picked up and we are jogging. I jog a few steps until my chest feels like it is going to explode so then I attempt to power walk. I try to keep up but know that there is no way I can do this. A group of the slower recruits fall to the rear. We try to continue a walking, jogging pattern. Some recruits complain continuously. I just cannot believe they are whining and complaining as I am just trying to get enough air to breathe! Rambo Rico comes back and yells at us to pick it up. I try to run but I am sure that someone has placed lead blocks in my shoes as they just will not move. On top of that, Uncle Charlie Horse grasps my calves and will not let go. I see the security guard riding through the lot in his golf cart. I dream about hopping on the back and catching a ride but soon wake up and realize that is not my ride.
Water…I need water! Some of the younger, faster runners who have already finished come back to encourage me on. Boot camp is a team effort and their support is wonderful as they seem to have a confidence in me that I truly lack in myself. I am surprised that I do not feel bad for not being able to keep up. Just those few words; “come on, you can do it; just a little further; we’re almost there; you are doing great” help me to somehow make it back to where I started. I then start inhaling my water like a drunkard and his tequila and am told to stop drinking as no one blew the whistle or told us that we were allowed to get water. I then hear the whistle and once again begin drinking but immediately feel nauseated. I convince myself that I will not vomit on my first day because there is no way to hide a 54 year old obese lady, let alone one who is vomiting!
The entire evening is a lesson in struggling. Push ups, crunches, lunges, weights were all combined into a little over one hour of torture. I am so wrapped up in my pain that I fail to hear the hooting and honking from cars on US 1 and I really don’t care who sees what part of my body as I strain to get into positions that my body has not seen in ages. Someone asks what time it is and we are made to do extra push-ups as we are not to wear a watch or ask for the time. At one point I hear loud sirens on US 1. Did I pass out? Am I still alive? My mind immediately thinks that surely, that is my ride coming to take me to the hospital! Wait a minute. I am still here. I am still alive. I am doing more push-ups! Oh no. Take me away!
At the end of the session my body feels like a limp noodle that been overcooked. We are dismissed with a group cheer and I slowly head to my truck. Some other recruits pass by and ask if I’m o.k. and I say I’m fine. I really was fine. I was just trying to figure out how I was going to get my weary body up into my ride and drive home!
No turning back. This 54 year old obese woman is a recruit in the YMCA Boot Camp!
Please look for the next article in this series to follow shortly.