I feel like story-telling today, as opposed to my other options (writing unsent letters, exploring my energy, etc). So I’m going to tell the story of how my obsession with a gym class is responsible for my relationship with Doug.
Two things I feel need to be said before I begin. The first is that I thought of this story because I went to the gym with a friend yesterday, and took the very class that played such a major role in my life. When I’d told him my plans the night before, Doug asked whether I was “going to write about going to Body Pump.” I said I wasn’t – going to a gym class is a stupid thing to write about, and has no relevance to anything I’m supposed to be talking about on this blog. But here we are, so for maybe the second time in our almost-four-year relationship, I have to admit that Doug was right and I was wrong.
The other thing I need to say as a preface is something I hate to say and that we all hate to hear: everything happens for a reason. This is a near-impossible concept to get one’s head around, especially when one’s head has been as filled with loss and trauma and a sense of injustice as mine has. But this is one of those stories where we can actually trace the line from something shitty that happened to something wonderful that happened, so I really can’t ignore the possibilities of a greater plan and mysterious ways.
Now I can begin.
When I first moved to Wales to live with my ex, the townhouse his parents had bought as an investment/for us to live in wasn’t quite finished being built yet. So I spent the first few months of my stay living with my ex’s family, in their home. They were trying their best to be welcoming, but I was experiencing a whole new round of culture shock (after having finally gotten used to France), and when I find myself out of my comfort zone, my spoiled brat side tends to shine through in a most protrusive and unfortunate way.
So it was that one morning I decided I had had enough of this boring country and this chatty, tea-drinking family; I think I was really feeling like I had no time or space to call my own, as I was staying in my ex’s childhood bedroom, and his mum and sister felt it well within their rights to open the closed door and ask if I was alright, or whether I’d like anything. I found this intrusive, and I also got the feeling they thought I was horrible for isolating myself (and maybe I was). So on this particular morning, I grabbed my ipod, a jacket, and some shoes, and left the house without telling anyone. I had no car, so I just started walking.
I was going in the direction of a sign I’d seen a few times, which pointed up a side street and promised there would be a spa at the top. I’d been walking for about 45 minutes, and I think I was halfway up the hill toward the spa, when my ex pulled up next to me in his car. He asked what the hell I was doing, and I, bordering on hysterics, said that I needed something for me, and that I was going to get a pedicure.
He humored me, waiting in his car while I got my nails done, and then we went back to the house, back to his childhood bedroom, to talk about what we were going to do with me. I told him I couldn’t just sit in the house all day, feeling trapped and annoyed, while he was at work or school. “I have to do something,” I told him. “I have to move!” He suggested we join a gym.
There were only two gyms in the entire country of Wales (I’m exaggerating, but there really were only two gyms within reasonable driving distance): one was the YMCA, and one was an independent establishment called Evolution. That afternoon, we went and visited them both, and agreed on Evolution, hands-down. A big draw for me was the existence of group-fitness classes, which have always been my preferred method of working out. At the Y, I would have had to pay per class, every time I wanted to go, whereas at Evolution, there was a class-only membership – some small monthly fee that would deny me access to the treadmills and weights (I didn’t care), but allow me to take any and every class they offered.
The first class I tried was something I’d never heard of before, called Body Pump. It turned out to be an incredibly well-structured free weights class, that kicked my ass so hard, I could barely walk the next day. So of course, the following week, I went back for more. Over the weeks and months I spent in Wales, Body Pump saved me from many a breakdown. I went from taking the class once a week, to taking it twice a week, to taking it and then the kickboxing class after it, twice a week. Soon, I was in the best shape of my life. And the more I went, the better my “best shape” got.
When I left Wales to return for California, there wasn’t a lot I thought I was going to miss – but I couldn’t bear to give up my amazing gym classes. I did some obsessive googling and found a gym in San Diego that not only had Body Pump, but also almost all the other classes in the Les Mills fitness program. It was about 15 miles from my parents’ house, where we were going to be living; I didn’t care. I joined the first week I was home, and would drive there after work every day (at the time, I had an office job, with a nice, regular, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. schedule). I went to that gym five days a week, sometimes for two hours a day. I couldn’t get enough.
So naturally, after my ex and I got married and were ready to move out of my folks’ place and find an apartment, I insisted we look in the neighborhoods surrounding my beloved gym. Which is exactly what we did.
I’d left my office job shortly before my wedding, thinking that once I was married, all the other pieces of my life would miraculously fall into place and I would get an amazing writing/editing job. When that didn’t happen right away, I somehow got it in my head that if I couldn’t have my dream job, I was going to work in one particular grocery store, where all the employees always seemed to be having fun. I consulted Google again, and found there was one of these stores just blocks from my new apartment. I applied, I got the job, and on my third day there, this cute guy approached me by the baler and demanded to know how old I was.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Look, I’m as hesitant to believe that everything happens for a reason as the next miscarriage survivor, but let’s connect the dots here: I was miserable in Wales, so I threw a tantrum, so I joined a gym. I fell in love with a class at that gym, so I sought the class in California, then I chose my new residence based on a desire to be closer to where the class was held. I found a job near that new residence, and met Doug at that job. Ergo, if not for my misery in Wales, no Doug. It’s that simple, and still, after all these years, that mind-blowing.
(By the way, before yesterday morning, I hadn’t been to Body Pump in years. I am no longer in the best shape of my life – not even close. They have the class at 24-hour Fitness now, which is where I took it yesterday, on a friend’s guest pass. I’ve no intention of joining myself, since I currently can’t afford a gym membership and work crazy hours that I’ve found tend to interfere with group-fitness class schedules. However, I’m happy to report that Body Pump is just as great as ever, and even though I was smart and used the lightest weights possible, I got my ass kicked. Seriously people, everything hurts today – just the way I like it.)