Thursday, October 1, 2009


Upon my arrival one early morning at Boot Camp, I noticed that Oshun, our trainer, had a circuit of exercises set up. In one area was a jump rope, another had elastic band, another had five wooden bar stools set up zigzag, one more with weighted balls and the final part had two strange looking metal contraptions that I have never seen before. I wondered what cruel and unusual punishment those contraptions held for us. Little did I know that today I would face my biggest challenge yet at Boot Camp.

We started out by doing regular warm up stretches and exercises and moved into weights and finally onto the mats for more exercises. We were then told to put up our mats and I knew the punishment was about to begin.

Oshun explained that we were going to do some circuit training. She began to explain each position and what we would be doing with the equipment. There were the elastic bands that we would put around the tiki hut poles and do several types of exercises. Jumping rope was another position and we were to jump thirty times. Moving on to the weighted balls, Oshun demonstrated that we were to squat with the balls and then reach up and stretch up in the air and then back down. We then moved over to the bar stools where I assumed that we would be running zigzag between the stools for a cruel and unusual amount of time. Let me tell you that would have been a walk in the park compared to what Oshun had planned.

Oshun demonstrated, climbed up the rungs of the stool and stood on top. Immediately my emotions pulled me down and the fat lady in me took over. I began to tear up as I watched Oshun standing on top of the bar stool. She began moving gracefully in the air from bar stool to bar stool. At the end, she stepped down onto a picnic table and back on the ground. I was devastated. My mind was in a tornado of thought. There is no way this obese old lady can climb up on top of a bar stool and stand up. I can’t do it! It is physically impossible and I will be so embarrassed. Why would Oshun put me in this position? Why is she hurting me? I was scared and on top of everything, she actually wants me to walk on top of the skinny bar stools with all my weight! I tried to hide my tears but there was no way to stop them. At that moment, I began asking myself if I even belong in this Boot Camp. I was finally going to fail miserably. I’m too fat and too embarrassed to even attempt to do this.

Oshun had moved on to explain the contraptions on the floor but my mind was still back at the bar stools. I saw Oshun showing three different ways to do push ups on the metal bars but I couldn’t hear a word she was saying. I kept wiping my face on my shirt but I was so upset that when she stood up and looked at me with questioning eyes, I told her, “I can’t do it.” She responded, “What did you say?” and I again said, “I can’t do the bar stools.” By that time, I was sobbing. I wanted to crawl away but Oshun called all the others around and explained that many of us have fears and things we have to confront and that this was one of mine. She explained that all of the recruits are there to support each other and although it sounded good, I did not want to even attempt the move. I could just hear them saying, “Did you see Doris trying to get up on the stool? She couldn’t even climb up because of her weight!” All of the outside noises just seemed to disappear and all I could hear were my own negative thoughts.

Oshun said I would and could do this. I had to do this. She started me at the bar stools and told me she was there to help me. Yeah. Like her skinny little body can catch me in a free fall? Another recruit, Mark, came over to help and then several others. After a lot of hesitance and tears still flowing, I climbed up on one rung of the stool. Now up to the next. I put my one knee on the top and held onto the side and put the other knee up. Now how am I going to stand my 280 pound body up? Somehow I got one foot flat on the stool. Holding Mark and Oshun’s hands, I tried to stand up. I couldn’t. Oshun told me I could do it and try again. I told her to give me a moment to get my breath. I somehow pulled myself together and with every muscle I had in my body, I stood up. I’m up! I’m really up on top of a stool! Don’t let my hands go. Oshun told me to rest a minute and look only into her eyes. I did and then slowly stepped from stool to stool until I was at the end. Now how am I going to get down? Oshun said to step on the picnic table top and then the bench. I could just see the table tilting over but I had to get down so I moved. I actually reached the grown safely. I did it! My God, I really did it. More tears but I didn’t have a moment to think about it as Oshun made me run the rest of the circuit. I ended up back at the stools and she told me to do it again. Oh please no! Wasn’t once enough? Oshun does not take no for an answer. Once again, with only two people to assist, I was able to do it and actually did it one more time with only Oshun. Three times I climbed up and across the stools! I was in a state of disbelief and didn’t know whether to laugh or cry more.

The funny thing is that I can remember the day months ago when Oshun told me I would have to jump rope and I cried that I couldn’t do it. I think I completed five jumps. This day, jumping rope was so easy that I didn’t even have to think about it and I was not gasping for air but was very comfortable jumping and did more than the required thirty!
As I drove to work that day, I actually felt a twinge of pride in what I had accomplished. I guess one of the things I need to do is to somehow have more confidence in myself. For some unknown reason, Oshun seems to think I can do anything. I don’t like when she challenges me but I am so thankful that she has the confidence that I lack.

I am a recruit in Boot Camp and Oshun is pushing me to new heights! Pun intended!

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