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My little ‘dom boli’: My house of pain

O.K., I’ll admit it: I have been an absolutely lazy slug about getting to the gym. I’ve even abandoned my beloved mermaid swim class in favor of lying around, reading books, and eating whatever came into my grasp.

But then one morning, my dearest friend called and said, “Get up! We are going to the gym! No more excuses.” And he so shamed me into realizing I was becoming a human snail, I agreed (what was I thinking?) and off we went to the JCCSF and their marvelous gymnasium on California Street. I even had to renew my JCCSF membership, that’s how far behind in taking care of myself I had become.

Well, dear readers, it’s true: You do feel better when you get your body up and moving, and that day proved it to me once again. That fateful morning, when I finally got off my lazy butt and returned to regular exercise, my body remembered how great it felt through all the pain to simply get up and push those weights, peddle that standing bike, and sweat until I dripped. I once again fell in love with exercising. I only hope it stays with me this time, because for some strange reason the human body is deeply prone to sitting and reading and eating crispy potato chips instead of reaping the benefits of pushing, lifting, and sweating.

And there is another reason I am so enrolled in this new gym routine (I’ve been going faithfully three times a week since returning): my new trainers. Yes, trainers. Because it took not one but two marvelous energetic females to get me moving and keep me showing up for our agreed-upon gym dates. Expensive? You bet. But worth every penny? Oh yeah!

Because I have learned that unless I make an actual agreement to show up and keep an appointment to work out, I will probably not show up. So since I am not putting any kids through college, I have money to spend, and I may as well spend it on getting myself as healthy as I can. So: two trainers.

I started out with Rhada, a petite, charming, and creative woman, who taught me to get on the floor and roll the fascia away. Her method? The Melt Method. News to me, but wonderfully energy restoring. For those of you looking to Melt and roll into doing so, look for wonderful Rhada at the JCCSF gym. You will love her. And, as it turns out, she is an aspiring actress, so we had a lot to talk about while I melted into submission.

And then, there is Alyona, my little Russian daemon! She is also petite, gorgeous, blonde, and gymnastically perfect, just like Rhada. Both these women together make up a woman the size of me. They are adorable, and they are both terrifying in their own ways. But in all ways that are good.

Alyona, who is teaching me to count in her native language, Russian, while she pleasantly tortures me, is a power to contend with indeed. When I tell her I cannot do something one more rep or I will faint, she puts her adorable hands to her seashell ears and says in her lush Russian accent: “I cannot hear that word “cannot” … I do not hear it” (oh, if only I could capture the music and cadence of her sweet Mother Tongue. I tell you, as Chekovian as she sounds, I would do anything she tells me to do in that musical accent of hers). And so, we are adding on the weights of each machine exercise I grunt through and we are stretching into areas my old body had long since forgotten even existed. Turns out I am more flexible than I have been giving myself credit for. Ah, those years of theatrical training when I pretended I was a dancer and worked out like one!

Anyway, the best thing about working with Alyona? We laugh together… a lot. She laughs at my earnest attempts at speaking Russian — I can now count to 10 — and I laugh at her, because just generally, she delights me. It is good to laugh while you are in intense pain. “Dom boli” means “house of pain” and it is there we enter when I go to see her each session. It’s that special little training room for trainers and clients, away from the general population out in the wonderful large gym area, and where I can ache, groan, weep, and get the job done with no one witnessing what an absolute coward I am.

We now have an agreement: We will make a gym date for a specific time and day, then she will not be there, but I will be because I made an agreement! That way, I am learning to show up at my personal “dom boli” with or without one of my adorable trainers to urge me onward. So far, the trick has worked.

Alyona — model gorgeous — refused to let me take a picture of her. And when I tried, she hid her face behind her perfectly shaped hands. That pretty face!

The face that launched a thousand ships of painful delight back into my life.

From one large snail to all the rest of you contented slugs: Get up and do it!


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