I went back to yoga. It’s been awhile. But it is THE NEW YEAR and salads must be eaten and muscles must be stretched and exerted with strangers sharing humidified air. Thems the rules.

You know what I also wish was a rule? That sick people wouldn’t go to the gym. Yesterday, like some sort of Olympian, I attended a competitive spin class and followed that with a power hour of hot vinyasas. In each class the willowy woman near me was… coughing. Phelgm-y bike girl was more discreet, hacking into her hand towel on the up beats. The sweaty downward dogger in front of me just spewed her virulent microbes into the damp studio without compromising her warrior two. This freakishly fit fanatic was never asked to leave, and certainly wasn’t going to let a touch of tuberculosis thwart her hour of half crescent moon twisting. (Yoga is occasionally very Pillsbury.) YOU ARE ALREADY SKINNY SO GO HOME, I scream-thought.

You faithful few still reading this drivel know my love/hate/complain/mock/go back again relationship with exercise. Yesterday, I was fully in the love zone; I’m actually very stretchy and good at yoga. Plus, it will be perpetually dark and freezy here until May, so I appreciate a fire hot room. But then this ponytailed terrorist aerosolized her sputum all over us, and the heavily bearded (why? why? why a beard when you spend all day at 110 degrees?) instructor told us to “relax your eardrums” and I was over the edge into scream-thinking.

But I will not be deterred! I went back to spin class again today and college boy next to me was so genuinely hating it, too, my hope for humanity was renewed. For sure there were still whoo whooing weirdoes racking up more miles than a minivan, but gasping boy next to me (who was killing it nonetheless) was my silent, exercise-begrudging conspirator. Maybe. More likely I was just some invisi-mom on the next bike. But knowing there’s at least one other person immune to endorphins made the never-ending 45 minutes suck less.

How are you getting through these January, work-off-the-cheese days? With a New Year enthusiasm for fitness, I’m continuing this (2 days and counting) habit of two-a-days with a second workout: dismantling the Christmas tree. Fourteen trips up and down stairs lugging boxes and then vacuuming up the godforsaken mess of it all…the way Jesus intended.

Hope all of you are being kind to your minds and bodies in this New Year and remember to RELAX YOUR EARDRUMS.


A previously underreported source of stress and tension… according to yogis everywhere.

Things I Think While Wearing Lycra

Let’s talk about horrible gym group classes. Are you itching to read another set of paragraphs listing things I think while wearing Lycra? Likely, no. But this little ditty has nothing to do with politics, or even how the minds of (some) boys are filthy, violent sex fantasy containers that can be punctured by narcissism and ooze misogynistic slime. Nah, this is about competitive spin class.

By the end of summer, I had become a bit of a regular at the Dracula Studio of Cycling Nowhere. My ass was tighter. My arms were ropier. I mean, I still hated it and refused to whoo hoo, or turn the knob very far, but I couldn’t argue with its effects. Then September happened. How do you have time to exercise in September? In addition to all of the back-to-school nonsense, Bernie and I needed to binge watch Stranger Things. I chose The Upside Down over Equinox. Here’s why.

Equinox sucks. And it’s not Equinox, exactly. Equinox is pretty and clean and all the right stuff is there. But the problem is… well… there are other people there. And they might be delightful. But at Equinox they seem so fit, or they are exercising so earnestly just watching them makes me feel like an alien on Planet Cardio. Group exercise, I suppose, is meant to motivate us to a higher level. Not for me. I’m not “pushing past the pain” for sweaty strangers. I’m truly not stronger than I think. What is the opposite of endorphins? I get those.

But last week I put a brisket in the oven, settled my boys into homework, squeezed into Lycra, and went to spin class. I arrived early, adjusted my bike, put my hair in a ponytail, and waited for the chipper instructor to solve her IT issues. I wasn’t sure why spin class needed a PowerPoint presentation, but a big white screen was soon replaced with spinning orbs corresponding to our numbered bikes and listing our very names beneath. Britt L. Bike 4. My orb wasn’t nearly as glow-y as the other orbs. You can probably write the rest of this post.

Five “challenges” pitted us against each other or assigned us to fake teams that I helped lose. Exercise is already awful, so to heap real time shame onto the experience was a new low as far as Equinox experiences go. Which is saying something: the first time I went, they told me I was fat. Probably the most annoying aspect of the class was that there was so much “down time” in between these stupid competitions that I didn’t leave with the sweat-soaked certainty that it was worth the trouble.

I really should have hauled ass out of there the minute I realized the instructor was going to make us interact. My only other experience with this was an ill-fated afternoon of yoga. A few years ago, I dropped into a noon class on a whim. I normally took the early power hour with the cute Asian guy, and had never been to this class with this instructor. There were only four of us: two moms trading my-shitty-teenager stories, shirtless Hairy Dad, and me. The skinny yogi arrived, clasped her always grateful for everything on earth hands, and told us what a wonderful opportunity a class of four would be to do Couples Yoga!!!! (Exclamation points represent her puppy dog enthusiasm for this wildly great idea.) Moms with crap kids immediately paired up, leaving me with the bare breasted bro. I will always and forever regret that I let myself be peer pressured into couples hot yoga. And aren’t yogis supposed to be intuitive and able to feel the energy in the room and other ridiculous things associated with their beatific smiles? Well, this skinny bitch was clueless.

The class began with stretching. We sat, straddled, feet touching, and were instructed to clasp hands and pull our partner over the chaste diamond of space between us. Hairy Dad wasn’t very flexible. Pulling with all my might, he hardly entered my personal space. But when it was my turn for assisted stretching, I felt the full power of a man who attends regular yoga classes. Dude was strong. The trouble though, my friends, is that I’m still-do-splits flexible. His forceful yank on my outstretched hands pulled my pelvis into the diamond and my head right into his junk.

“Oh my God oh my God oh my God, sorry sorry sorry,” we both said to each other.

I called Bernie afterwards to report my infidelity. I still recoil physically when I recall that moment I unwittingly dove into a stranger’s crotch—an experience I actually paid for.

Time to find another class. Stories and complaints to follow.





Back in the mid-90s, Nicole and I were roommates and fellow Immunology graduate students. A few times a week, we would quit our mouse murdering, gel loading, and cell spinning to put in a few pre-pasta hours at The Lady Gym. These were the days when fat was bad, carbs were good, merlot was popular, and yoga was for smelly weirdos who couldn’t run six minute miles while watching Friends. Bored with the Stairmaster, Nicole took the smelly weirdo class one day and was hooked. She urged me to join her, extolling the virtues of stretching en masse; and because Nicole wasn’t wrong about sushi or The Gipsy Kings, I reluctantly agreed to try a class. I marched my Rachel haircut and former-gymnast bravado into the studio and spent the next 45 minutes trying hard not to laugh at, well, pretty much everything.

Do NOT do this if you’re menstruating. Eww. Why?

This pose cleanses the adrenals. MASSAGE your adrenal glands! That’s not where your adrenal glands are, and even if you could, massaging them would spell disaster.

BREATHE into your SPINE. Huh?

Namaste. Jesus.

Because I couldn’t stop giggling at the (perfectly pretty and absolutely annoying) instructor, I left early and spent the next fifteen years making fun of yoga… and anyone in flared pants that claimed intimacy with her adrenals. I went back to my Gravitron, elliptical, and treadmill to dispassionately count the minutes until I could dismount these instruments of torture, resigned to exercise as a form of punishment for diminishing hotness. And paid $75 per month for the displeasure of it.

I know plenty of women who adore working out, who love to run more than I love to sit, who train for marathons and triathlons and other vomit-inducing feats of endurance. But you’ll never find me wrapped in a foil blanket. Compelled by postpartum body distortion, I pay a lot (A LOT) of money to have a professional force me to squat and lift and pull and repeat repeat repeat because left to my own devices, I’d always choose less strenuous undertakings for a child-free morning in stretchy pants. I’m just happier when my heart rate (and everything else) is resting, and I continue to approach exercise like flossing, Costco shopping, or other unavoidable, irksome chores. I certainly never expected to revisit The Land of the Adrenally Aware… but that all changed when I went to Nordstrom’s with April.

So many little deaths occur in fitting rooms. All of us occasionally loathe that girl in the mirror and hurl bullying remarks at her bulges and zipper defiance. It was one of those days shimmying in and out of one-size-too-small when I was struck with total appendage envy. April has great guns. Every dress looked fabulous with her sculpted triceps accessories. Forget the teeny Missoni… I wanted April Arms. Was she swimming? Lifting? Starving?

Ugh, seriously?

Fifteen years of yoga ridicule halted by pure vanity. Now, if my no-nonsense, scientist-turned-mommy friend could stifle sniggers to ohm-for-arms, then certainly I could give it another chance?

I could, and I did, and I didn’t laugh once being rather preoccupied with gasping for humidified air. And now, I habitually join a group-sweat-and-stretch with a room full of people sharing a collective yogi-crush on a man named Maasaki. I sign up early to get a spot with Jacqui whose beauty and wisdom transcend her ridiculously townie accent. And though I’m hooked on these absurd poses, addicted to the heat of the room, psyched for the opportunity to do splits and handstands… to be perfectly honest, I’m doing it for the sake of my jiggle-y bits. I fake the chants, and my inner Catholic finds all of the third eye pressured bowing to be goofily blasphemous. The mini catnap at the end will always be my favorite part. But these instructors make it tolerable by not taking it all so seriously (or referencing their adrenals). And it’s one of the few places I never feel cold, or weak. Having spent so many months bald, tired, and shivering, yoga gets a big Namaste shout out for that.

I now realize that my first yoga class with Nicole sucked. Taught properly, even this mocking mommy can suspend downward dog derision for one hot hour of chatarangas. But I always find myself high-tailing it out of that sweltering room, feeling like an interloper in a cult. Though I’m a regular at Hot Vinyasa Flow, I haven’t drunk the Kool-Aid or bought anything at lululemon. I’m still a skeptic, and this keeping-it-at-(toned) arms-length has a judge-y, un-Christian feeling to it… even though it’s just yoga. And to be fair, I have learned a thing or two on that sticky mat. Jacqui often says, “If your eyes aren’t closed, and you’re comparing yourself to everyone else, you might look fancy… but that’s not what it’s all about.” And she totally has a point. So I’ll keep going back. (Until my arms look like April’s.)