MORNINGS WITH KATH
Kathy looks at me every time she sees me with that big bold smile of hers, eyes sparkling with those bambi lashes she wears and I am smiling. This is a big change from six years ago when I would otherwise flip her off as she shouted, “Eight minutes of burpees!” at the group when I didn’t even know what a fucking burpee was. Back then, six years ago, BC (before cancer and before about a bzillion other life events) I had the luxury of complaining about a burpee. More than complaining, actually whining about the hour workout that lay ahead, but for some reason was standing there thinking that this was a good use of my time. This was when I was working out because I was newly and happily entangled with a very fit boyfriend eighteen years my senior who was in way better shape than I was. I signed up for these classes of torture so I could actually think the eight mile walks on Cliff Walk with him on beautiful Sunday afternoons were joyful instead of walks of shame. Sweating and out of breath trying to keep up with my almost 65 year old new partner, after the first walk with him, incorrectly thinking that my walking workouts actually kept my cardio fitness worthy. They were not and I promptly needed to come up with Plan B for a better fitness routine or else there was no way we would be fitness compatible. The irony was that I met this beautiful man now in my life at the gym we all worked out at when I was only twenty three. I also met my former husband at this same gym and here I was twenty five years later. How ironic.
My attitude towards fitness all changed when I first went down to the end of the finish line to meet Michael after his run over the Newport Bridge. I couldn’t believe how much fun everyone was having and it planted a seed in me to do a 5k. Because he was my new partner and he loved fitness, he was super rocking encouraging and this was motivating. This connected me with Kath as I decided to take a beginner running class with her to see if there was any hope for me. I never liked running and the running class made me feel like there was a spec of hope for the possibility of at least kind of liking it. The running classes turned into gym classes and a bootcamp with Kath; smiling, happy and most important, kind and sincere, Kath’s morning routines began changing my mindset about fitness like I never imagined.
I wouldn’t consider myself a fitness nut, but I do love to workout now and this is one of the most bizarre sensations I have as I plow through my one hour classes. I take these classes, by the way, at a gym I drive forty minutes each way at least three times per week now. I have mentioned numerous times how fitness prepared I was (unbeknownst to me at the time) for my two “we caught it early” bouts with breast cancer. I am absolutely sure that my recovery, especially this last time, would have been much longer if my fitness was not what it was before I went in for this last surgery. There is something confidence boosting about being able to keep up with a group of mostly women who are like minded in sweating and jumping and moving in general. I have never felt as strong as when I am doing the ridiculous routines that Kath and her friend Kyle dream up for us. Routines, by the way, that have never been replicated. EVER. Every class is different every time.
This is not an easy feat, but the challenge has been life changing for me and I am eternally grateful for her optimism and kind spirit that has taken me on a road previously way less traveled. This road I am on with Kath is one of extreme admiration because I was never a work out kind of person. I mean I used to make fun of people who worked out at this level. I always thought walking fast was enough and I never enjoyed exercise the way I do now. There is something so liberating about completing the type of circuit class that Kath does, like the old days of drinking in our teens how we used to discuss our hangovers with some bravado, my friend, Morgan and I wear our workouts like badges of honor- way better than a hangover everytime.
I am not the type of person who you would ever think would be writing about my love for fitness. I didn’t grow up with fitness. Fitness was a chore, something you had to do, not something you wanted to do. My partner changed this for me by his stellar example of health. He never misses a day at the gym and what I have learned from watching him these past six years is that this as much about mental health as it is about physical fitness. For me, I can feel bat shit crazy at times and usually these times are when I am most easily drawn to brownies and chianti. The worst two things to keep my emotions steady rather than like a cyclone they can so easily become.
Exercise every single time keeps me in a calm state and grounds me like nothing else. (well almost nothing else, remember I am a proud med marijuana carrying citizen now) but from a health perspective, exercise and a fit body also mean a super fit mind and this is my preach to the female choir out there. We are being told day in and day out by every media outlet out there that we are depressed, we have anxiety, we need prescription meds to fix these problems, just a little pill. So much easier than a forty minute drive to the gym for an hour workout. Probably cheaper too since it is unlikely anytime soon that health insurance will be paying for ten packs of boutique boot camps. But what I know for sure is that there is no pill that can take the place of the euphoric feeling that happens when your body feels fit, and your mind feels clear. The feeling of your blood pumping and your heart working is something that no drug can ever do as long lasting as exercise. This is no longer about weight loss or having a tight ass. I am way past that desire. For me it is all heart and mind health, if the firm tight ass comes from this as the gravy (just as a reminder, my upper half is this now thanks to Dr. Hottie) then this is the added bonus, not the driver. When Kath looks at me and says, “Alayne, you have a big smile on your face,” almost like she is trying to figure it out, I am just thinking about how humorous it is to me that I am actually not only doing these crazy workouts, but that I love them.
I never complain about the workout because I am so grateful I can.
I have my next and hopefully final surgery coming up at the end of September, ONLY FIVE WEEKS from now, so game on to get my fighting lovely bad ass self back in the ring ready for the last round. Anyone want to join?