Today, I am back in the gym with Chris and Bertina, but feeling so different than a week ago. For one part, I am physically just feeling better having finished a round of brutal antibiotics in the Cipro family that I suspect were almost more damaging than the typical tropical infection they were intended to eliminate. The medicine had given me constant nausea, insomnia and anxiety so although I was really hungry I could barely eat. But this Tuesday I started the day without any pills and I was hopeful that I would have more physical strength than on Sunday.
My trainers are waiting for me on the steps in front of the gym smiling. How did you feel from Sunday? Bertina asks. Great, I say. It was hard but it was awesome. Chris shakes his head disapprovingly. We didn’t work her hard enough, he says. We want sore butts.
Well, I felt it, I offer, realizing I probably just upped the difficulty level of today’s workout even before getting started. But why should I worry about that? Difficult is why I am with them and the standard to which I have mentally totally committed myself. I don’t want easy. Easy is taking the dog for a walk or going for a swim. Nice for me mentally, but no physical results.
Today, they have me using rubber workout bands that add tension to all the leg and knee lift exercises. We run through the gamut of ballerina side lifts, knee scissors and host of leg lifting to the rear that focus on adding muscle to the butt. Fortunately for me, Chris came to Nicaragua via Miami as a trainer and lifting and building butts are his expertise. Bertina is a living athletic model to his methods.
I would venture that most women want a body that looks like Bertina’s and I know that two years ago she wanted one, too. I wish I had taken photos from before, she offers…I thought I was stuck like that, it was heredity and I would just have to have all my clothes altered smaller, tighter because I was losing this area here, she points to the sides of her hips.
And I know exactly what she means. We all grow older in our own way. Some women put on more curves than they want and some women like us lose the ones that give us our form and beautiful femininity. Before, when I would step up my exercise doing more swimming or yoga, it actually seemed worse as I slimmed down more. It is despairing for a woman to witness this internal shrinking process and feel that there is nothing that can be done.
Bertina says that she wouldn’t have believed it then, but Chris was confident that she could reverse the process. We’re going to pick it up, I told her, quips Chris. It takes time; it’s not going to happen overnight. He explains that what went down slowly over years is going to have to be steadily rebuilt over years, also. Bertina tells me very seriously that it is never too late to reverse this muscle and bone loss. You can do it in your 50’s, 60’s, 70’s whenever. It’s is not easy, but you can do it.
As I finish up a round on the bands, Bertina asks me how I feel. Honestly, I feel great. Wrong answer! Chris counsels Bertina to switch the bands. She has been using a higher resistance band and now I know why I should have answered hanging in there! The lighter band wasn’t challenging enough and I realize how easy it is to cheat through a workout sweating, but not struggling and burning. Now I can really feel my body’s resistance to the movement and the funny thing is that you might imagine that all this strain and struggle would make you feel old, vulnerable or ridiculous- but it doesn’t. I feel young, again. Alive and strong, again.