Some of those born in the early ’50s will understand when I say that getting out of bed at 5am (or at any time but especially at 5am) to inflict pain on oneself at the gym is sometimes a monumental exercise of will power.
I developed RA (I think it’s RA because my mother has it, and I have identical symptoms, even though the tests come back negative, so far) in my hands, wrists, toes and ankles. The swelling and the intensity of pain go up and down but never vanish completely. It doesn’t help that I am at the keyboard all day at work. Yes, I still work because I believe that one should postpone retirement as long as possible, but that is a topic of another post. So back to boot camp. For instance, this morning. When the alarm rang at 4:55am and then again at 5:00am, I did an inspection – I closed and opened my fist…. ouch! I rotated my trouble maker right wrist, it felt like it was broken, no way to make a full rotation. I wiggled my toes… another “ouch” foreshadowed what was about to come! Every inch of my body screamed, ‘stay in bed, you can’t do this today!’ But as most days (not all), I swung my feet over the side of the bed, while the voice in my head protested vehemently, and I braced for pain in my toes as I was about to stand up. A quick hobble to the bathroom to throw some water on my face, brush my teeth, then put on my gym gear, in slow motion because it’s hard to get the tight leggings and sports bra on when every move of the wrist and fingers hurts.
I have 15 minutes from the time I slide down from my bed till I sit in the car. In spite of wondering if I can do it, there is no time to give that thought more consideration, because boot camp starts promptly at 5:30am. Since I am out of bed, obviously I decided to go, so no use in engaging in negative thoughts. I’m going anyway, so there.
It’s a boot camp style group exercise class. Two of the instructors are former military drill sergeants and though they are kind (ish) they push hard. No, it is not a class for seniors. I am there with people spanning all age decades starting with the 20 somethings. We do push ups, burpees, spider man stretches, weighted lunges, sumo squats, lift weights, ankle jacks, we do calisthenics on stability balls, we do the ropes, you name it we do it. Today, just when we thought we we done, sweat dripping, we were told to do a 3 minute plank.
But, what about the pain you might be asking. Yeah, well, I wear weight lifter gloves, and sometimes a wrist brace, both of which help cushion the hands and wrist, or at least psychologically they create the illusion that they are helping. I don’t know how it works physiologically, but a few minutes into the class, and I am so busy focusing on what I am asked to do that I forget the pain. The music is loud, nasty, rhythmic, the instructors keep barking, ‘keep it up!’, ‘don’t stop’, ‘7 seconds to go!’, people around me grunting but pushing hard, and somehow I get through. Sometimes, when I see a person half my age struggle with sit-ups, I feel a secret satisfaction when I do them faster. I modify some of the exercises, like jump squats, because I can’t do impact due to a former knee injury.
By the time I get home, I feel energized, accomplished, and so so glad that I ignored the voice that urged me to stay in bed, and that I didn’t give in to the dread of ‘what if I can’t do it today’. And I am always amazed at how my body can change in an hour. So the reply to the voice in my head at 5:00am should always be, ‘maybe you won’t be able to do all you want to do today, but GO, find your limits!’