Darn You, Slowly!

March 9, 2010

When we last saw Bunny, she was at the gym for the first time in some time, and she was feeling uncomfortable, out of place, lost (literally) , incompetent, insecure, stupid and conspicuous.

And fat.

After completing her 10-minute warm-up on a recumbent bike, she was ready to attempt to do the exercises her physical therapist had prescribed. After asking the front desk for directions 9 or 10 times (well, maybe 3), and walking up and down stairs from this building to that (does this count as part of the workout?), Bunny finally settled on a mat that suited her fancy.

Well, at least she didn’t hate it.

The mat was quite small and had a hole in one end. For a moment, she wasn’t sure it was a mat. The mats at the other gym she went to were 2 inches thick and 3 times this size. Maybe it’s a pad for a treadmill? or one of those things the Mythbusters use to protect themselves from explosions? or one of those things they drape across you when you’re getting an X-ray? No, there’s a guy doing leg extensions on one. OK, it’s either a mat, or if it’s not, at least she won’t be the only idiot.

There weren’t many people in the general area, which pleased her. Her ideal would have been to have the building evacuated so that her improper form and inevitable huffing would go unobserved, but she thought this was the best she could do.

She draped her towel over the mat and lay down on her back. Happily noting that the fish was now out of sight, she pulled out her exercise cheat sheet and reviewed the instructions for–


1. Lie on back with ___ knee straight and the other knee bent as shown. (Bunny is very literal, and doesn’t much like blank lines in instructions, but this one was pretty obviously left or right. She knew she was supposed to do both. 15 reps on each leg.)

2. Keep the leg completely straight, then raise it about ___ inches. (Another blank line. Now she had to guess. 2 inches? 22 inches? She decided to do what was in the picture and straighten her leg in the air.)

3. Hold ___ seconds and slowly lower. (Oh, poo. How the heck did she know how long to hold it? 2 seconds?)

Oh, look, there are 2 notes in the margin:  “L’s” and “up down in out.”

Bunny had done these exercises in the therapist’s office, but she didn’t remember every detail. She remembered the therapist counseling her to keep her leg very low to the mat on the “in and out” part. The purpose of this was clearly to make the exercise even more difficult and unpleasant.

She made her best guess at what she was supposed to do, assumed the position, and did it.


She tried to hold the position for 2 seconds when she reached the “up” and “out” points. That didn’t go well, and by rep 3 it was down to one second.

She considered doing the whole thing faster, but she knew how she was supposed to do it.


That’s what really gets you.

It would be easy to do it fast.

Slowly makes you feel the stretch, feel the burn, feel the weight of your leg, feel hatred for the jerk who is making you do this, feel everything.

Bunny’s muscles were burning, and her leg was not happy when she completed the 15 reps. The other leg didn’t like it much either.

She knew that would make her therapist happy. When she had told him her muscles were burning, he had said “you’re welcome.”



1. Lie on back with __ leg bent as shown.

2. Tighten buttocks and raise them (them? buttocks is a them? aren’t they an it? maybe not) off floor as high as you can.

3. Keep pelvis level. (Huh? What does that mean? Does she raise it/them as high as she can, or keep her pelvis level? Which is it? Level with what?)

4. Hold ___ seconds (Bunny decided to try 2 seconds again), then slowly relax (slowly even makes relaxing harder).

Darn you, slowly!

This one was not too terrible. She wasn’t 100% sure she was doing it correctly (that level pelvis thing threw her), but she tried to imitate the drawing, and then again, how far off could she be? Her muscles were surely feeling something.


1. Lie on belly (uh-oh, fish up) with pillow positioned as shown (what pillow? she was supposed to bring a pillow?)

2. Raise ___ leg off floor (left, right, got it).

3. Hold ___ seconds, slowly relax. (Let’s be bold and try 3 seconds.)

The note in the margin said “don’t roll hips.” Bunny remembered that she was to raise her leg without bending the knee, and that she wasn’t to raise it more than a few inches. But she was to keep her hips in place. She could see that it would be quite easy to roll her hips, so she attempted not to do so. She was confident she knew what to do here.

This one wasn’t so horrible either, but by this time she was pretty perspiry. She made a mental note to bring a bottle of water next time.

Now what?


1. Lie on side with __ leg on top. (Hey, left side of the room, look at the stupid fish on that fat lady’s T-shirt!)

2. Bend lower leg slightly.

3. Raise top leg straight up, without letting it come forward.

4. Hold ___ seconds, slowly relax. (2 seconds again. Whatever.)

Notes in the margin said “keep leg back behind you, hips rolled forward.” Another obvious attempt to make it more difficult. (It worked.)

Bunny remembered her therapist showed her how to “roll” her hips forward and make sure the leg she was raising and lowering stayed behind her. She did the first 2 reps, didn’t feel anything, readjusted, and obviously found the correct position, because she felt it. Oh boy, did she feel it.


Not an injury ow, more of a I-hate-you-for-making-me-do-this-and-if-I-have-to-do-one-more-rep-my-leg-will-fall-off kind of an ow. Her leg was screaming for mercy by rep 15.

Then she flipped and did it on the other side.



Is this going to be over soon? PLEASE????


1. Lie on back holding ___ leg with hands as shown.

2. Straighten the knee as far as you can, keeping your other leg straight on the floor.

3. Hold 1-2 seconds (sure, NOW he tells her how long to hold it).

Back on her back, tired, sore, sweaty and just wanting to get out of this godless, soulless torture chamber go home, Bunny grabbed her thigh. This was not as easy as it sounds, because she’s only incrementally more flexible than a wooden board.

Bunny raised her leg to the sky (more or less, so to speak, sort of) and held it for 1-2 seconds. By the 8th rep, her leg was fine but her arms were screaming for mercy. By rep 12 she couldn’t hold on anymore.

Was this an exercise for her legs or her arms? Is this a trick?

She let go and finished the leg extensions or whatever they were with her arms at her side.


Now back to the bike!!

Noooo…can’t we just go home? Please….???

Bunny traipsed back to the room with the bikes, dragged herself onto one that was next to a lady who was reading a book, and started her 10-minute “cool down.” She needed to cool down, all right, and she felt strongly that it made much more sense to do it at the juice bar than on the bike, but she did as she was told.

She turned on the TV bolted to the bike and started channel-flipping in an attempt to find the basketball game she had been watching during her warm-up. After changing 10 or 12 channels, Bunny started to wonder if the lady with her nose in the book was secretly annoyed by her channel surfing. So, she stopped, and stared at a silent infomercial until her 10 minutes were up and she was free to escape back to the real world.

Bunny needs to worry less, get some cojones, and realize that the people at the gym aren’t paying attention to her. If we can get that through her head, we’ll have accomplished something.

Bunny came back two days later to repeat the routine. She was much more comfortable, partly because she knew where to go, and partly because she left the the fish at home. It went reasonably well. She was sore and achy after both sessions, but, well, that’s the point, isn’t it?

Next time, she has to up it to two sets of the exercises on the mat instead of just one.

Oh boy! We’re really looking forward to that!

Well, she did it. She went back to The Damned Gym.

Since it had been a while, it took some planning.

First, where’s the gym bag?

Found it! So much for that excuse. Great! OK, let’s see what’s inside. Two pair of stretchy pants and a T-shirt. Not sure how long they’ve been rolled up in there, and not wanting to show up at the gym in wrinkly pants that are too small, Bunny tossed them in the laundry and threw in a fresh T-shirt and a pair of nice, friendly, loose black pants she knew would work. Bunny is too big and way too old for those cute little stretchy haltery toppy things.

Shoes? Check.

Socks? There’s one. hmmm…where did she put the little white socks? hmmm…. oh, there’s one. OK, unfortunately we have everything we need.

Gym bag and workout routine safely in the car, off she went to work. It was a pretty difficult day, and Bunny toyed with the possibility of skipping the workout. Maybe she could do it tomorrow instead? To keep to the every-other-day schedule her physical therapist had threatened her with strongly recommended, she would have to do it again on Saturday. No, she knew she would kick herself if she had to go to the gym after work Friday night. Friday night is for going out to dinner, not exercising. It was bad enough she had to ruin her blessed Saturday.

So, headache and all, after work, Bunny headed for the gym. After some discussion at the front desk about her membership, what an old keycard she had, and wow, she must not have been here in a while, Bunny headed off to the locker room.

Bunny is just not comfortable at the gym. We know that if she would just get into a routine, she would be, but the fact is that she is not. She’s intimidated. Everyone is thinner and fitter than her. It’s a fact that every single person in there goes to the gym every single day. They’re all looking at her wondering what she’s doing here, how she got in that condition, and why she’s even bothering. She’s sure of it.

So, she meekly puts on her workout clothes. Pulling the T-shirt out of her bag, she discovers that her nice, sedate, don’t-look-at-me black Virgin Islands T-shirt has a huge orange fish on the back.

How embarrassing.

Something else for people to mock her about.

Maybe she should just go home?

No, she would have to hide it as best she could. She grabbed a towel and tossed it not so casually over her shoulder, making every attempt to hold the towel in a way that covered the monstrous orange fish.

Bunny went to the room where she knew the treadmills were. There they were. OK, the recumbent bikes must be here too. hmmm… ellipticals. Those Stair-Stepper things. No bikes? What the heck?

Maybe she should just go home?

She went to the front desk. Feeling like an idiot, she asked the 20-year-old size-zero blonde where she could find the recumbent bikes.

Oh, you haven’t been here in a while, have you?  The bikes are in the next building, just outside the spin room.

Bunny’s gym is in an office complex that has three buildings. It wasn’t designed to be a gym, and as they have expanded, they have opened rooms in other buildings. You have to go outside. So, she did. She found the next building. She tried to open the door. Locked. She walked around the building. No entry. No lights on.

Is this a trick?

Maybe she should just go home?

Feeling like even more of an idiot, she walked back to the front desk and asked Ms. Size Zero what she was missing.

Oh, we’re so sorry! It’s up one level. Just go outside and up the stairs, then turn left and there you are.  You haven’t been here in a while, have you?

So, Bunny finally found the recumbent bikes. There were eight of them. She chose one far away from two women who were chatting on neighboring bikes, but not so far away that it was obvious she was trying to stay away from them. She didn’t want any trouble.

She hopped on, adjusted the seat, put her feet under the straps on the pedals, started to pedal, decided that she wasn’t comfortable with the position her feet were in, put her feet on top of the straps instead, and pushed the button.

It asked her how long she wanted to ride.

10 minutes, thank you.

What level?

One. Definitely one.

Then it asked her how much she weighs.


This is a warm-up! She’s supposed to pedal slowly so as not to hurt her not-quite-recovered knee, for 10 minutes, and not worry about how fast she goes. She wasn’t about to type in her weight. The guy on the Stair-Steppy thing in the row behind her is watching every move the fat old lady with the big orange fish on her back is making, and she’s not going to tell him her weight. No way!

Maybe she should just go home?

She managed to cancel the request, and the nosy bike allowed her to proceed with her warm-up.

She pedaled for ten minutes. She looked around to see who was watching her. They were being sneaky about it. The two women were still chatting, and a guy a few machines away kept sayingSHHHH!” They kept chatting. She hoped there wasn’t a rumble.

Pedaling reasonably happily, Bunny flipped through the channels on the TV mounted atop her bike (nice!), making a mental note to bring earphones next time.

She kept adjusting her towel to make sure it was covering the stupid fish.

As she progressed toward the end of her 10-minute warm-up, she looked around to see where she could go to find a mat for the next part of her routine. She saw three mats. All were in use.

Maybe she should just go home?

She stepped off the bike and walked outside and back to the front desk in building one. Giving up on feeling idiotic, now she was just annoyed. She asked the skinny bitch her helpful new friend where she could find a mat on which to do her floor exercises.

Oh, sure! There are mats in the room with the bikes, outside the spinning room, some more in the room upstairs in this building, just go up the stairs, turn left and kind of look to the right, or there are more in the room downstairs in the basement, but it’s the second room on the right, not the third room on the left, which does have mats, but there’s going to be a yoga class in there soon, so don’t go in there.

You haven’t been here in a while, have you?

Maybe she should just go home.