It’s just one minute, right?
I spent an hour of my day today writhing around the floor with my legs in the air, arms behind my head like I was being held at gunpoint, forced into various uncomfortable positions by a quasi-drill sergeant with a stopwatch.
My face turned blood red, veins popped from my forehead. I started to huff and puff like I was in a Lamaze class, my cheeks full of air, lips pursed.
“Thirty more seconds!” Bernadette screams, with a mix of enthusiasm and authority.
My legs start to shake uncontrollably. I have to cross my feet in order to keep them from convulsing, jerking about like I’m a newborn baby, not just the person who looks like she’s having one. But that doesn’t get past her for long. She comes over and uncrosses them and gently straightens my legs. “Bring your chest up higher,” she says. I inch up a centimeter or two. “Higher. Good.”
“Ten seconds!” she yells. At this point, people in the class begin to audibly strain, letting out grunts and other odd noises that can no longer be held in. And to think that we actually ask for this, to think that we come to Bernadette’s Lunch Club circuit training class at Jean Robert’s Gym on our own free will.
Those annoying workout cliches start to go through my head. “You’re only cheating yourself,” the voice says. “No pain, no gain.”
“God! Shut up! You are so annoying!” I tell the voice.
“Changer!” she screams, but in French, so it sounds like shan-shay! And we move on to the next equally painful, equally difficult exercise. Today is an hour of abs, the whole abs, and nothing but the abs so help you god.
Bernadette is the farthest thing from French. She’s Californian, and hands down one of the most beautiful people in Aspen. A real head-turner, you might say.
My brother met her once when we all had lunch together at Gusto during his last visit to town. We were worried he might embarrass himself, maybe foam at the mouth or blurt something out like he had suddenly come down with a bad case of Tourette’s syndrome.
Instead, he took the first chance he got to tell Bernadette’s boyfriend, Jean Robert, “Dude, your girlfriend is so hot.”
Luckily, it was in-one-ear-out-the-other with Jean Robert, who could care less if my brother is yet another pathetic, drooling male who meets his girlfriend and then states the obvious.
Jean Robert is the French one. Actually he’s from Belgium, but whatever – you get the idea. It’s his gym (as in Jean Robert’s Gym, duh) where he and his girlfriend (Bernadette, hello) are partly responsible for all the good-looking, buff people you see wandering the streets of Aspen.
Bernadette is one of these people who, despite her obvious physical advantages, is beautiful from the inside out (No, I really mean it). Her smile could light up the moon. We’re talking some serious wattage. She knows how to work it, to turn it up and blind you with it, so you forget all about how hard she kicks your ass.
You start to think that maybe, if you work really, really hard, that one day, Bernadette’s circuit training workout will no longer kick your ass. But she’s one step ahead of you, that Bernadette. She knows when you’re getting stronger and just makes everything harder. She’ll waltz up to the treadmill, all pretty and charming like she’s about to serve you a cup of tea or something, and cranks that thing up until you’re sure your heart might just explode out the front of your chest.
After about 30 seconds, a heart attack is probably imminent, but dying right there on the gerbil-wheel-for-humans is the last thing on your mind. All you can think about is the possibility that you might trip and fall and finally find out what happens when you trip and fall on the moving treadmill. The machine vibrates and bounces under your feet as you frantically try to keep the pace Bernadette has set.
She looks at you curiously, like whatever-could-be-the-problem and says, “It’s only one minute out of your whole life.” And you know she has a point. But that’s just the warm-up.
From there, depending on what day it is (Monday is upper body, Wednesday abs, Friday lower body), you spend the rest of the hour doing whatever exercises she so chooses. The only thing you do know is that each exercise will last but a minute. Or should I say one-minute-out-of-your-whole-life.
It’s amazing what one minute can do to a person, especially with this gorgeous woman pacing the room in her black workout tights and sparkly platform sneakers, letting you know just how much time is left every 10 seconds or so.
But whenever I start to wonder what in god’s name I’m doing here, letting this albeit amazing lady order me around the gym like I’m running the gauntlet, all I have to do is look around. This class is the who’s who of beautiful people in Aspen. Good genetics or not, it’s because they’ve all worked their asses off – literally – with B’s help. I’m talking men and women of all ages, all shapes and sizes. They all look f-ing fabulous.
I have to say that B. has had a profound effect on me, like she’s teaching us these subtle lessons. Suddenly I find myself thinking “It’s just one minute out your whole life” whenever I’m faced with something particularly unpleasant that will probably make me a better person after I endure it. I hear her screaming “Shan-shay!” as soon as the moment passes, whether I’m sitting at a traffic light or writing this bloody column.
Whatever. I’m on my way to rock-hard abs, and that’s all that really matters.
The Princess does not resort to shameless plugs all that often, so pay attention. For more information on the Lunch Club, call Jean Robert’s Gym at 920-9049. E-mail the princess at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The COVID-19 pandemic has caused untold amounts of suffering and disruption, and we’ll probably tell those stories for the rest of our lives.