Post by: Heather Krill
Thank you Hannah and Julie for allowing me to be your guest blogger! All I wanted for my 40th birthday was to travel some place warm and sunny to relax with my friends. Ten other women from different chapters of my life joined me in Fort Lauderdale for a weekend of celebration. As a happily married woman, mother of two small children, and high school English teacher, I know better than to belabor you with the details of our people-watching at the beach, reminiscing about college, or receiving an exciting visit from Ft. Lauderdale’s finest fireman due to an oven malfunction one night during dinner. Instead, I’ll share two new exercise experiences which showed me more about my friends than even a bottomless bottle of wine ever could have.
Having been an avid reader of Hannah’s yoga blog last summer, I felt adequately prepared to attend a Bikram yoga class. Her mother, Rina, wanted to “treat” me to sweaty yoga for a birthday “gift.” Another friend, Michelle, decided Bikram yoga was also something she would like to try on this ladies’ weekend away from all things stressful in regular life. Family and friends who know and love Rina also understand she is a bit of a masochist when it comes to exercise. So with an empty stomach, a full water bottle, and a rented yoga mat, we entered the 105 degree studio. My theme song, “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey, played in my mind, and I was ready to sweat. Always an athlete, I am not afraid of working hard, battling through discomfort, and challenging myself. What I was not prepared for was the perpetual fear of passing out or throwing up on the 65 year old yogi to my left or my equally pained friend, Michelle, on my right. Michelle and I hung in there for all of the positions, stretches, flips from back to front and back again. But then the nausea overtook me, and I worried I would not be able to reach my towel quickly enough to catch the vomit. Would I be able to safely leap over the 30 other people “treating” themselves to Sunday morning yoga that stood between me and the door?
Let me clear: I was not hung-over. I had in fact just had the best night’s sleep since my 3 ½ year old had been born. I looked over at Rina who smiled and gave me a thumbs up. Surely, she thought this was the best gift ever. And I know the many benefits of Bikram; I just could not feel or observe any of them in the moment. It’s important to note that Michelle also looked close to death. Sensing our despair when I motioned Michelle toward the door, Maria, our instructor, told us just to lay flat on our mats and breathe through the next few positions. A rule follower by nature, I put my head back down and waited to either faint or projectile vomit. Neither happened immediately; however, upon exiting the hot room, I retreated to a very stylish and clean bathroom stall to throw up. I’m certain the other women in the locker room were whispering things like, “Poor thing- must be her first time,” or “She’ll get used to the heat.” And you must actually get used to the heat, or crazy people like Rina and Hannah wouldn’t return time and again. An hour or so later, I did feel fantastic- cleared pores, stretched muscles, and a quieter soul.
Just 24 hours later, Jolene, a self-proclaimed “jazzercise fanatic”, asked that we join her in a class which is combination of old school aerobics, Zumba, and modern jazz. Kris, with a K, bubbled with enthusiasm for out of town guests, prattling on about “just shakin’ it” and “bouncing that booty.” Students poured in from the streets, including an eighty-ish year old woman wearing a black sweatband and a red t-shirt that read An outfit isn’t complete without dog hair, and an Asian ball room dancer/ professional male ballerina wearing actual jazz shoes and flashing perfect teeth and jazz hands. After stretching and warming up, we brought our heart rates up with a variety of sashays, kick ball changes, chest pumps, and grapevines- all of which brought back memories of awkward dance classes in sixth grade when my own mother gently suggested that I should focus more on team sports. Kris with a K shouted out instructions in between phrases like, “You doin’ OK, Bud?” as Bud struggled to kick his foot six inches off the floor, and “Walk it sexy; walk it sexy! Shake it Bev, just shake it.” Bud was indeed OK and Bev was easily 75 and wore a beaded black hair accessory in her perfectly coiffed ponytail, clearly a cheerleader, gymnast, or majorette back in her day. Kris also updated the entire class on the latest celebrity profile of Justin Timberlake during a remixed Michael Jackson song. Her routines ended in complete musical synchronicity, jazz hands in the air—she/he was like a combination of an Olympic gymnast and an elegant orchestral conductor. 5500 steps on Fit Bit (the equivalent of 2.3 miles) later, we took our group picture atop the studio stage, sweating, laughing, and feeling well-jazzercised.
We will return to our families having shared new experiences together like Bikram yoga and jazzercise, but I’ll probably stick to hiking mountains or jogging with my children in a double stroller. Like all good friends, whether 10, 20, 40, or 60, we challenge the ones we love to try new things and move beyond our comfort zone. These are the best gifts I could have received for my 40th birthday; I’m one lucky girl. Side note: on more than one occasion this trip, it came up that Rina had been to Fort Lauderdale for spring break in 1984. As I was only in fourth grade at the time, the only part I would have changed would have been our costumes for jazzercise. I imagined us all wearing leg warmers, matching terrycloth wrist and head sweatbands, high- hipped hot pink leotards and Flashdance sweatshirts with the neck scooped out to hang sexily off one shoulder; instead we wore the same clothes, laundered of course, we had worn to sweaty yoga holding only the memory of if not actual vomit.