Thursday, May 26:
Sign up for Hell Week challenge online. It is 7 days straight of the Barry’s Bootcamp signature interval workout, which is 10 minutes of treadmill sprints, jogs, and hills, then 10 minutes of intense floor work (pushups, burpees, heavy weights, resistance band work, etc.), followed by alternating back and forth again from treadmill to floor, until the full hour is up. Usually a single Barry’s class in Miami is $30, so the Hell Week special of 7 classes for $99 is an amazing deal. The caveat is that all classes must be completed in 1 week.
[When clubbing is your favorite cardio!]
Friday, May 29:
Go to SoulCycle and wonder what possessed me to change my workout routine, other than the financial benefit (7 classes of SoulCycle in Miami with shoe rental is about $231, slightly less if you buy a package).
In spite of its mammoth impact on my budget, I love SoulCycle and hate running!
Saturday, May 28:
[This is not at all what Hell Week is like…Photo by World Red Eye]
I wake up early for a yoga class outside, followed by SoulCycle. Proceed to have extreme anxiety about why I thought this challenge was a good idea. I really hate running.
[Eva is doing Hell Week too! But she is questionably crazy and goes to the 6AM class, which is never the class I attend]
Sunday, May 29:
Continue to have anxiety about Barry’s Bootcamp. I don’t go to bed until 2AM and have a nightmare about missing my class.
Monday, May 30:
Begin the challenge on Memorial Day, a holiday usually reserved for Nanny’s annual party and eating 14,981 calories before noon. Unfortunately, I am not in Connecticut this year, and with Miami’s perpetually warm weather, the holiday doesn’t feel like a noteworthy beginning to summer, as it is up north.
Deep in my bones, I am missing Connecticut summers, an endless spread of sea and sand. Summer growing up meant being outside 24/7; Memorial Day was the official celebration, before we lost track of time, and genuinely forgot whether it was June, July, or August.
[Memorial Day at Nanny’s in the 90’s]
First, we would go to swim practice at the pool at Longshore around 7 or 8AM, where we would have to do laps of every swim stroke, then tread water until our lungs hurt. We would have a snack and play outside on the playground for an hour or so, while my mom gossiped with her friends. Our main destination for the rest of the day would be Compo Beach, where she would force us to fry outside on the sand for hours or practice our swimming in the salty Long Island Sound. We would bring a big stack of library books to read on our towels or while hiding in the shady area underneath the playground slide.
For my mom and grandma, there was no such thing as too much beach; to even insinuate such would be sacrilege. Every day from Memorial Day to Labor Day (and often for weeks extending before or after), they would be perched on the sand in front of Joey’s By The Shore for the entire day.
[With the Queen of Compo in the off-season, circa late September 2014]
My grandma and her friends will always remind me of “The Pink Ladies” from Grease. They went to high school together in the 50’s, attended each other’s weddings and housewarmings in the years shortly after, raised babies together in the 60’s and 70’s, supported each other through divorces and illnesses and remarriages in the 80’s, and still remained the closest and coolest of friends when I was growing up in the 90’s. As a child, I hardly knew which of my grandma’s friends were actually related to us, or just her lifelong friends. Though the hands of time had turned them from spry teens to energetic grandmas, through my child’s eyes, they seemed essentially removed from time, as perpetually fixed to the Compo Beach landscape as the waves or the sand, forever turning a mahogany shade on their chairs and towels, while surrounded by a wandering tribe of children and grandchildren.
[At Compo with my paternal figure, circa 1991]
Most days, we would have to negotiate and beg my mom to leave, as the sun started to go down. (“3 more hours?? No, 2 and a half!” “90 minutes!!”). She would often placate us with an ice cream sandwich or other Good Humor delight, or have my dad drop off pizza for dinner, so that we would stay a little longer.
Time in the summer of ’94 or ’96 or ’98 was sticky. It ebbed and flowed; it was marked by finding a big hermit crab or eating a red, white, and blue popsicle or walking from one jetty to the other.
Time at Barry’s Bootcamp is measured fastidiously, and it is imperative not to be late. I am sweating from both the 305 sun, and general anxiety, in the lobby of the Sunset Harbor gym about 20 minutes before class begins. I’ve gone to Barry’s (and its Chicago counterpart, Shred 415) a couple of times before, and it was always so hard that I had to actively fight the urge to walk out mid-workout.
Literally everyone in this class could be a fitness model (or is fiscally sound enough to marry one a fraction of their age). I warn the instructor beforehand that I am not a runner, but will try my best. My max sprint is an 8.5, while other people are doing 12’s and 13’s, and even 15’s. Then again, some of their legs are literally up to my boobs, a gazelle-like genetic advantage which my 5’ 1” self will never possess.
It is hard to say what I hate more: running or floor. With running, you can get lost in the music a little bit and the sprints go by faster than pushes at SoulCycle. But 10-12 minutes of straight running is so intense for me. We never get a walking section or a cooldown other than a 5.0 jog (which frankly, still feels like a run to me. The first time I ever took a class like this in January, my fastest sprint was a 6.5, which to most people in class is a light jog).
[Repping some Soul gear at class #culty]
I feel so great after class that I go shopping on Lincoln Road and buy a second workout outfit, so I can do a class at Green Monkey Yoga a little later in the day. Like a junkie, I need more endorphins.
Tuesday, May 31:
Each day has a theme, and this day is “Butt and Legs”. I am already sore from the prior day, in both of those areas, so I am particularly dreading class.
I go to a different instructor, at the Midtown location, whose energy is particularly infectious. For some reason there are a lot of beginners in the class, so I am actually not the worst one, which is nice.
We do a lot of short rounds, with side to side running and running backward on the treadmill, among the more traditional jogs and sprints. We also do our final floor session as a pilates-inspired round with resistance bands on our hands and knees, instead of weights and plyometrics. #facedown #peachemojiup
It burns a lot, but I am pretty into it, especially when the instructor starts playing a remix of Ms. New Booty. Could it be that I am actually having some fun, instead of fastidiously counting seconds and minutes left in each round?