Wednesday, 6 May 2015

The Things I Do In The Name of Friendship

I knew I shouldn't have answered that last call. If I had ignored it, I'd be lying on the couch watching re-runs of Seinfeld and not find myself coerced to nearly killing myself.

Seeing Dani's name on the screen, when my phone rang, would normally put me on high alert and I would answer or not answer her calls depending on what she had scheming at the time. Every time she needs a favour, I find it very hard to say no to her. She is one of my best friends and she knows me far too well. She knows exactly which buttons to push and when to back off. I know that in this instance, she would have kept calling and sending me text messages, pestering me until I agreed to whatever she wanted. 

In hindsight, I should have ignored the call and dealt with her via a text message. It would have been far easier to turn her down by a text message rather than listen to her hypnotise a "Yes, sure, I'll be there!" out of me. 

So here I am, decked out in my exercise gear and armed with my water bottle and a towel ready to be a good and supportive friend.

I am sure Dani is under the illusion that I am somewhat fit. Why else would she keep want me to sweat it out with her? She couldn't be so far away from the truth. My idea of fitness is to go for a twenty-minute jog once a week and squeeze a walk or two around the block during my lunch break. That's it! If it rained, there was no making up for it on another day, which just showed how dedicated I am. 

Now Michael, another close friend of ours, would have been ideal. He lifts weights, runs every other day, eats right and whenever he is idle, he stretches. The first time I saw him drop into a lunge, I stopped mid-sentence and gaped at him. What the fuck! He had laughed at me and told me to carry on as he switched legs and went on to stretch every muscle in his body. Talk about weird!

"Thanks, Leah! I struggle to do this on my own. Having you here, is such a big help. You should see the instructor. He is totally drool-worthy." Dani enthused from the other side of her open garage, bringing me back to the present and my focus back to what I was about to put myself through.

"I still don't understand why me and not Michael?" I couldn't help but whine a bit more. There were a million other things that needed my attention, but I didn't think she would have let me back out now even if I had the best excuse ever.

"Leeeah! Don't be like that. Trust me this will be fun and Michael... I love him to bits, but you know how he is like with this sort of stuff."

"I am not being anything. Just pointing out that he would be a better choice. He will go all drill sergeant on you and you will end up being just as fit and sculpted as he is." I replied attempting once again to get her to see reason, but I knew I was wasting my breath and energy arguing with her.

"I want to do this with you so shush with the complaining."

I shut up. There was no use. Once she set her sights on what she wanted, nothing would change her mind. As much as I loved her, her stubbornness was the one trait that annoyed the fuck out of me.

With the laptop placed on top of one of the garbage bins, Dani started the video. As the introductory music played, she skipped over to my side to give me a hug, thump me on my back before heading to her floor mat to follow the instructions the hunk on the screen was issuing. 

The hunk was not alone. Super fit and toned people surrounded him. The women had tiny sports bras and leggings showing of enviable bodies while the men, had shorts on leaving their upper body bare and yes, they were all pretty hot to look at. 

My immobility earned a glare from Dani. Crap! There was no way I could back out now and with that thought in my head, I started jogging on the spot before easing into jumping jacks.

I wish I had it in me to be deceptive, perhaps fake an injury or something. But it would not work as I would have to remember what I had injured, answer the million questions Dani would throw my way, her concern for my welfare would magnify my guilt and that would be my downfall. I would get caught out. No, there was no backing out now. I just had to get through this with some enthusiasm and a whole lot of energy. However, words such as 'push through', ' dig deeper' amongst others, did little to enthuse me. What the fuck did I agree to?

The first iteration of the warm up was hard. The second iteration just about killed me. At the start of the third, according to super hunk instructor, we had to push ourselves beyond the pain and exhaustion as it was no longer a warm up. Fuck! I was ready to collapse. How an earth did he expect me to push myself any further?

Ten minutes later, the warm up was officially over. The hunk on screen, took off his shirt, flashing his ripped and toned body. His body put the others around him to shame. Wow! Dani was right, he was drool-worthy and a part of my functioning, pain-free body appreciated and took note of his rippling muscles. 

The other part of me cursed him. Even though only ten minutes had passed, I was drenched, my towel saturated, my shirt plastered to my back and my hair was wet! My legs felt like jelly and I still had forty-five minutes more of this to go through. Oh god, kill me now! 

We had eight seconds to hydrate ourselves and as he energetically counted down, I guzzled water, nearly drowning myself in the process. With evil Dani watching me like a hawk, I got back into position for the post warm up stretching. Forty minutes later, saw both of us, bent over, trying to get our breathing back. Oh my goodness! What did we just go through? 

The next five minutes of stretching also involved listening to the master of torture go on and on about how looking good, eating healthy, pushing through the pain was so good for you. Yeah, I get all that, but right about now, I just wished he would shut the fuck up!

I wanted a shower, a cold bucket of water to drink and to lie down and sympathise with my poor, sore muscles. I got the water though it was not the bucket I was envisaging. I also got to lie down on the floor matt, closing my eyes, letting my body relax.

"Common lazy bones, we have one more to do."

My eyes flew open at Dani's comment. What! No way! One more? Fuck!

Groaning, I lifted my head and squinted at her with one eye firmly shut. She looked and sounded so perky, so energetic and in my head, she began to resemble the devil.

"What do you mean one more?" I finally queried as I struggled to get my body to a seated position. Ouch! My abs were already sore. "We had a deal, and I fulfilled it, so what do you mean by one more?"

I could feel myself getting hysterical. If I had to do what we just did again, I wouldn't be able to walk or talk. Calling for an ambulance to cart me away would be a highly probably next course of action. Hearing a giggle, my head swung round to look at Dani. Was she losing it too? Was she yanking my chain?

"Calm down, you will enjoy this one. It is only stretching which we need to do."

"But we did stretch!" I wailed in despair. "What was that we did towards the end of that torture video?"

"Yea, that's stretching, however, this is stretching. Now get ready, it is about to start."

"I don't get the difference between one set of stretching and this." I groused further, not getting up after seeing her sit cross-legged on her mat. Like a good friend, I turned my attention to the laptop screen and groaned at the calm and soothing voice of a yoga instructor. Yoga... seriously!

"Leah, I can feel you glaring at me. Now be a sport, your body will thank me tomorrow." Saying that she began the neck rolls, breathing in and out in time to the directions.

I could easily get up, grab my things and walk out. Why didn't I? Why on earth, didn't I refuse to do this? So, I am a sucker for punishment and I can't say no. Maybe Dani, is right and the yoga will ease the soreness but after this, I decided that I would put my foot down to any more of her suggestions. Enough already!

An hour later, I was ready to kill her and going into the corpse pose did nothing to diminish this urge. Dani was right about one thing, this form of stretching was way different from the other form of stretching — this was torture stretching! Try standing on your left leg, with your right leg up straight up in the air along with your right hand and hold that position for a while but at the same time, pulling your body in opposite directions to maximise the intensity and the stretch. Yup! You got it —  torture stretching.

The minute the dulcet voice stated that it was the end of the session, I scrambled up from the mat. Grabbed my now empty water bottle, drenched towel and headed inside for my bag. I was getting out of here before Dani decided she wanted to do another program to 'relax' any muscles.

I was back out in less than a minute. Walking as fast as my shaking legs would allow me, I escaped to the safety of my car, locking the doors just in case crazy demonic Dani dragged me out.

Once safely inside my locked car, I tooted my horn in farewell. She yelled out something, but I refused to look in her direction as I drove by. From the corner of my eye, I could see her laughing at my hasty escape. Her gay wave, did nothing to ease my urge to kill her, neither did the long soak in the tub. But, to be honest, I actually felt good once I got out of the bath and felt energised enough to cook myself a meal and tackle my bills. The biggest positive to all this was that I slept like the dead.

The next morning was a different story! Every single muscle in my body screamed in protest. After another quick soak in the tub, I hobbled through the rest of the day and went back to cursing Dani. She called to compare her soreness to mine, scoffed at my insults and even came by at lunchtime with a slice of berry cheesecake. If this was her attempt to placate me by gifting me with the largest slice of my favourite cake, she succeeded. Irrespective of her peace offering, I was steering away from her crazy exercise programs.

Was I successful? To some extent yes as I reluctantly agreed to do one session a week, no more.

Copyright Tia J. Lee 2015
All Rights Reserved.

Photo: Stefano Oppo - Getty Images