In the middle of the night after I had my first workout with Ben I woke up and didn’t remember for a moment what I had done that day. All I could think about was the grinder my grandma used to use to push turkey through after Thanksgiving to make turkey salad. Because evidently I had been run through that grinder. Everything from my fingers to my feet hurt.
Even knowing full well I was in no kind of shape, I still kind of thought that somehow I’d be exempt from being so sore, even though by the end of my first hour my legs were trembling quite comically. Using no equipment other than the tiniest kettle bells on site, Ben had led me through working out my entire body. The ‘fire hydrant ’(picture a dog lifting its leg — now do ten reps ), the pushups on the bar that he kept lowering, the squats … oh, the squats. Even the thorough and long stretches he had me do afterwards couldn’t keep my poor muscles from screaming all night. When I began the workout I felt like a dried out rubber band, you know, the kind you find in the recesses of a drawer somewhere, so brittle you think it will snap with the least pull. I didn’t like that. This is the only body I’ve got, and I’m the only one that can prevent it from feeling like that.
So three days later I returned, still sore. I’d watched Rocky II and III over the weekend to psych myself up. I was absurdly pleased then, when, after my long warm up (more fire hydrants!), Ben took me outside and showed me the ‘sled.’ Like Rocky in IV (minus the snow), I was to pull the straps over my shoulders and dragl it up the sidewalk to the next block. It was, I should mention, 96 degrees. I pulled it up and back with 25 pounds. Though shins and calves burned, it wasn’t too bad. “I can do this,” I thought. Then it was a kettlebell exercise, swinging it in between my knees as I squatted and out as I rose, 15 times. Not so bad.
Thinking we’d move on now, I was surprised to see Ben go in and bring another weight. “Three times,” he said. “Sled and kettllebell.”
50 pounds, plus the sled itself works out to somewhere near half my body weight. I tried to hum the Rocky theme on my way up the first time with the extra weight, giving up on the grueling trip back as it took too much energy. My heart hammered and I breathed like I’d been running from a lion. No respite from Ben, though I grabbed my water for a chance to rest a second. The second time up I tried to give myself a pep talk and returned with my heart now an out of control jackhammer. “I might to need rest,” I gasped, “my heart’s beating pretty fast.” “Nope,” said Ben as if I weren’t trembling, red-faced and drenched in sweat. “One more, you can do it.” That last lap I swear the sidewalk magically grew to twice its length. I sternly told myself I wouldn’t cry. Ben stood a million miles away as I headed back, moving through quicksand, my calves on fire. I imagined dropping the straps, leaving the sled. No way was I going to humiliate myself like that. I wondered if I might actually throw up but better that than to quit. I drug that thing the rest of the way back, made it, quivering, through the last set of kettlebell reps, and heaved a shaky sigh of relief that it was stretch time.
Stretches are that particular kind of pain that’s good. I make terrible faces and some inelegant sounds, but I loved it, as I could feel those dried-out rubber bands loosening up as Ben pushed and bended me further than I would ever think I could do myself.
I left, still feeling sick, but utterly elated. Nobody else had done that for me. I did it myself. No matter that everyone else in the gym, including a kid, is stronger than I am. I did more than I thought I could do — way more — and I can’t wait to go back for more.