Don’t Judge, Beagle

Dear Goddamned Beagle,

While you might enjoy a natural fitness, keeping your tone by a strict regimen of sleeping, eating and intermittent zoomies, not all of us are that lucky. And while your four knees show no signs of your age, so close to the ground and always bendy, some of us require far more attention to those areas, and even replacement parts from time to time.

Since Last December I’ve been one of those people with a replacement part, and I’ve not enjoyed the easy, freewheeling cantering about that you have. Not that you’ve noticed. So after many months of rehab, relearning motions so natural to you (such as getting up and sitting down, or walking down stairs), and after working on additional leg issues only vaguely associated with the replacement part, I decided to move past the confusing restrictions and contradictory instructions of various doctors and physical therapists, and just start from the bottom rung of the fitness ladder. This means fat lady fitness videos.

I am no stranger to fitness videos. Back in the 80s, when Jane Fonda first brought the genre to the masses, I was a devotee, if an ambivalent one. Each day I’d dutifully feed the tape to the VCR. (I’ll tell you about VCRs someday – they were devices that showed movies, kind of like iPhones only without the phone, texting, maps giving directions, something to tell you about the weather, any way to impulse shop, translate languages, read books, play music, or look up information about Brandon Lee’s untimely death, the average onset time of cholera symptoms, and the rules of the Bulwer-Lytton contest. Weird, I know.) I’d get down on my floor on my bath towel and follow her chipper instructions to “feel the burn, and ten again!” I’d do the ten again, sweating and aching and going from hands and knees to feet to back, only stopping when the tape was done or a neighbor would knock on the door to see who I was yelling at.

I moved on to Step Aerobics, wherein one would go up and down off of little boxes while lifting knees and wishing a pox upon the instructor, and then segued to other, more interesting forms of class fitness like boxing, all for those with the light hearts and asses of a person without fifty extra pounds and arthritis.

Life got the best of me, as it does from time to time, and after a few years of weight gain and the inactivity of merely working full time on my feet and raising toddlers, I’d lost a lot of ground. Along came Richard Simmons, a creature so fabulous, so Godawful magnificent that a forty-minute “Sweatin’ To The Oldies” tape would pass by practically unnoticed as I followed along, eyes wide as if watching two cabaret trains crash in slow motion. Because of this, and for reasons I’ve never parsed, I’ll forever hear “Build Me Up Buttercup” at the most inconvenient times, such as when listening to pompous lecturers, or being mansplained to by clueless officials and doctors, or during droning sermons at weddings and funerals. OK, I don’t just hear it – once in a while I sing it out loud, but not on purpose. It just kind of comes out sometimes, but never at a good time.

At any rate, my frustration and unhappiness at my physical state has caused me once again to turn to what I know, exercise videos, and due to my decrepit state and my wish to not injure myself before gaining any momentum, I purchased an online library called Beach Body On Demand. It promised workouts like Insanity Max, Core de Force, P90X3 and Turbo Fire, but with all levels of fitness addressed. Psyched, I logged on and went to the beginner section, where the offerings were slightly less inspiring: You v2, Country Heat, and Ho’ Ala Ke Kino (awaken your body and learn the Hawaiian secret to energy, grace and vitality). Not being in the mood for Hawaiian secrets, and me without my tummy-tie plaid shirt for the country workout, I chose You v2. 

I don’t know who this man is, but I love him. For thirty minutes I marched in place, side-stepped, lifted knees and whipped my hands and arms around in attitudinal aerobicism (FLICK, my beauties, FLICK! You know what you mean!), as my new guru encouraged and instructed in his thick, pan-European accent. You know what I want? I want you to drink some water now! DO the rainbow! This is eeeet! You know what you want!

And then I saw your face.

You’d been lying on the couch sleeping, and I didn’t think much when I saw you loosen your blanket burrito and expose your torso. You do that for temperature control all the time. It had probably been ten minutes before I noticed your frozen posture and wide, white eyes.

Look, Beagle. Don’t give me any of your guff. This is just the way it’s going to be for a while, and until we can get to Rev Abs and Insanity: The Asylum, we’re going to be doing the rainbow and fleeking sexy. We will touch and go back. We will put it together, arms and legs. Is that clear? Good.

Love,

Your Person

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