Several friends (not a few of them gay men) have told me that I must start “pumping iron” to keep my bones from getting brittle. I have no need to be gay man buff, but I don’t want to be old lady frail either (not at 47). I decide to give my arms a workout since the only iron they pump comes in the form of my electric toothbrush.
I don’t want to jump in too voraciously (“start slowly” is what those gym people, trainers I believe they’re called, always say). And let’s face it, for me, starting at all is a triumph.
So I pull out a decade-old DVD I own called Yoga for Dummies. The title has me written all over it. I had last used the DVD sometime in 2001 and thought it was high time to give it a try again. I retrieve a two-person beach towel, fold it in half, and lay it on the floor in front of the television set. Immediately, my dog, a black Lab named Jack, bounds from his bed to check out Mommy on her new dog-level bed. Jack quickly decides he likes my bed better and paws at the towel, circling and circling like a wolf in the wild patting down the prairie grass. Plop. He settles comfortably. I relinquish the towel as the dog’s new bed and resign myself to the carpet.
The DVD begins and the Zen-like instructor leads me through the basic Yoga poses. I position myself as a Cat and a Cobra, a Butterfly and a Baby. Jack is so thrilled to have me on his level and acting like an animal that for each new pose, he wants to sit on me. This detracts somewhat from my Yoga calm. Still, I persist.
Halfway through, I am instructed to position myself as a Downward Facing Dog. I do, pushing my butt into the air and letting my weight rest on my hands. This is far more uncomfortable a pose than when I last faced downward as a dog (circa 2001). I can barely hold my pose, and when I return to bipedalism, my right elbow hurts. A lot. What a wuss, say my ego, id, and super-ego.
Still, I finish the instruction, holding on for balance during the “stand on one foot” Tree pose. I couldn’t stand on one foot for longer than two seconds even if the grand prize was a trip to George Clooney’s Italian Villa. With George Clooney.
As the days go on, my right elbow continues to hurt. What a wuss, repeats my ego trio.
So I decide to soldier on, through the pain. That’s what real athletes do, right? (I wouldn’t know, but it is, right?)
Not wanting to pay for an expensive gym membership, I decide to give twenty dollars to the latest As Seen On TV craze, and buy the Shake Weight. This is the dumbbell-resembling weight that women on TV with better bodies than mine shake with both hands. There is some spring-like action that keeps the weight moving back and forth from one end of the dumbbell to the other. Supposedly, six minutes of “shaking” a day leads to better arms. Well, I have six minutes in a day to spare and my goal, as previously stated, is better, stronger arms. Within reason.
I make my purchase, bring my new “stud” gym toy home, and begin to (as KC and the Sunshine Band sang:) “Shake, shake, shake…” Except my arms are singing, “Ow, ow, ow…” Especially my right elbow. Wuss, wuss, wuss, sings the ego trio. I feel like the true dumbbell.
I pay a visit to my primary physician. “Tendonitis,” she says. “Also known as tennis elbow.” Or, uh, Yoga elbow? Shake weight elbow?
“Wear a band for tennis elbow and stop the yoga and the shake weight,” the doctor advises.
“But, my arms? How do I get good arms?” I ask, my goal slipping away.
“Wait for this to heal and, in a few months, try lifting light weights,” she says.
“And in the meantime?” I ask.
“Ice your elbow and take it easy.”
Which I take to mean, ice my elbow with thoroughly frozen Drumstick till soft, then eat. Buff arms will have to wait.
Icing and taking it easy. Doctor’s advice. You, say my ego, super-ego, and clever id, are an IDiot.