#4 : The Joy of Today Is …

This West Point gym is empty because the cadets heard they might have to do a METCON3 class. Image: Wikipedia.



This is the 4th installment in a series of 51 posts inspired by a list of writing prompts from the website Journal Buddies. If you’d like to know more, here’s where I explain what this is and why I’m doing it.



The joy of today is that I went to the gym and survived something called METCON3.

Until this summer, I hadn’t had a gym membership for 12 years.* I didn’t want or need one, because at some point in my early thirties, I discovered the joy of working out at home. It all started because the evil blonde sprite that trained Madonna for awhile put out a series of exercise DVDs, and it turned out that if I did those ghastly exercises faithfully at least four times a week, they would slim my shoulders and raise my butt. I’m serious. There was my butt, minding its own business, hanging out at one level and then I’d do the DVDs for a couple weeks and my butt would be raised up to the next level. With those DVDs, I had a next-level butt — and I didn’t have to leave the house to get it. I didn’t have to pack a gym bag or share a locker room with clammy strangers. I didn’t have to smell rubber flooring and, after I got the DVDs, it was free.

But there were lots of changes in the past year and one of the changes is that I joined a gym. My DVDs were worn out and I was getting real tired of the evil sprite. Besides, the closest gym in our neighborhood is an Equinox, and this was tempting.

Gyms and health clubs are a lot like coffee. At the base level, you’ve got your Sankas, your Folgers. These are affordable, serviceable brands that will supply your caffeine … but that’s about it. Then you’ve got your Dunkin’ Donuts-level coffee, which costs more, but it tastes a lot better and the cup has a logo on it. After that, you’ve got your Starbucks, and we all know that at a Starbucks, you have options. You can ask for alternative milks and usually get them. There are seasonal flavors and ceramic mugs available for purchase. The baristas write your name on your cup. It’s great.

It’s great until you get coffee at a place like Intelligentsia here in Chicago, or at a La Columbe, from Philly, or at Vivace in Seattle. Once you get a flat white or an Americano at a place like that, where they’re roasting the beans in the back and the baristas don’t make coffee so much as tend to it, and your beverage is so good you finally understand those coffee jerks who go on and on about “acidity” and “balance” and “tone” in a cup of damn coffee.  Once you’ve tasted that kind of coffee from that sort of place — and paid a pretty penny for it, to be sure! — it’s kind of hard to go back to Sanka.

Equinox is the fancy kind of coffee. There are trainers there and they are all hot. There’s a sauna (also hot.) There are lots of fluffy towels and there is someone who folds them. To check in, you open the Equinox app on your phone and present the bar code to the person at the front desk. No big deal, except that above the bar code in big letters is your first name, so that when the (hot) front desk person scans you in, they’re able to say:

“Have a great workout, Mary!”

It’s weird but you’d like it, too. Equinox has a long list of desirable qualities, but what I like best are the classes. There are lots of classes you can take all throughout the week: spinning, barre, aquatics, yoga, and a variety of HIIT classes. “HITT” stands for “High Intensity Interval Training” and if you think any workout called “HITT” sounds like it would be aggressive and painful, you’d be right. Every class is different, but basically, you jump up and down, then you do push-ups, then you lift weights, then you want to cry, then you get back up and you jump up and down, then you lift weights, etc., etc., until you are released or literally dead.

METCON3 is a HIIT class. “MET” is short for “METABOLIC” and “CON” is short for “CONDITIONING” and — sorry for all that YELLING just now — the “3” is there because you do 10 different exercises (e.g., jumping up and down, lifting weights, crying, etc.) three times. Class is 50 minutes. Everyone has two fluffy towels at the start of class; at the end, we have sopping wet rags because of the sweat and the crying, which I think I mentioned.

METCON3 is as brutal — and effective — as it sounds. This week, I took that damned class three times. The joy of today is that I survived it. If there were a METCON4, my butt might just consider moving up to the next level.

* (That’s not counting yoga studios.)

9 Responses

  1. Mary
    | Reply

    I totally get it. How can something that is supposed to be good for you make you feel like you’re going to die? (I ask myself) I love your honesty when you write it is refreshing and from the heart. I’ve missed it. Welcome back.

  2. Kathlene
    | Reply

    “Jumping up and down, lifting weights, crying…” . Oh Mary! I’m so glad you’re back.

  3. Helen Marie
    | Reply

    At 78, with one robotic knee and a second soon to come, (and a hip that’s started making noises like it may wish to follow those two, unless possibly the second robot knee will take care of that “discomfort” as well) there is no more jumping except in therapeutically warm (preferably chlorinated) water. However, I have been precisely where you are and jumped flailed lifted ran pushupped my way to tears and the great thighs and the tight butt and the sculpted arms, and can appreciate your energetic enthusiasm! Love you, Mary.

  4. Pamela Barnes
    | Reply

    hmmm….can you give me the evil sprites name? my butt needs a new level. And it is not ready for a gym.

    • Mary
      | Reply

      Pamela … beware … of TRACY ANDERSON. 😐 And let me know how it goes. 😉

  5. Brenda King
    | Reply

    Mary- Your description of exercising made me laugh! And I’m still chuckling!
    I could visualize you going thru the paces at the gym, and felt so glad the you have experienced much of the same pain and agony I have. (Poor thing!) My muscles and joints hurt just thinking about it! So glad to hear your butt was so responsive! After six months of aerobics and aqua work, I finally found my core! Didn’t know I really had one until then! My posture was better, my tummy was easy to hold in, and I felt…exhausted! I’m old now, my core has gone back to hiding, but I’m so rested and happy! Hang in there! Brenda

  6. Kelly
    | Reply

    Mary! So glad you are back. You have been seriously missed! Reading PaperGirl starts my day with a smile!

  7. Diana L Kiley
    | Reply

    She’s baaaaaaack. I hope your life continues on it’s upward track. You have been missed!

  8. Lesley Gilbert
    | Reply

    Love these (almost) daily stories – you make me smile, like you used to do – good to see you back Mary 🙂

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