It’s been a hellacious week, so Nora had to drag me to weekend exercise class. This month it was called KICKIT and I anticipated some BS about women’s empowerment and a few knee twinges.
Marshall, our instructor, came around and showed me where to stand for best balance, and how to pivot in a tennis shoe. He started the music, and off we went.
I had the time of my life.
Two minutes in, we all smelled bad, and some of us were yelling names at the bags. He showed us how to punch harder, protect our faces, use the whole foot, and some other fun stuff.
And as he showed us the culminating exercise of the first half of class–throwing one-two punches followed by “the groin kick”–Pretty Woman started playing. The five of us, grey ponytails flying, came alive. We slammed our hands into the bags, we threw our whole bodies into the high knee that didn’t so much tap the bag as take out an aggressor, and all I can say is I never felt so feminine in my life.
Mid-class, Marshall had us take a break, drink water, walk around. Just stay loose. I leaned against the window of the exercise studio, which looks down onto a basketball court. Little girls, maybe 8 years old, were donning knee pads and picking out balls. They all had ponies like ours, theirs with sparkly bows rather than iron grey streaks. Their instructor, wearing a tight hot pink warmup jacket, blew a whistle, and from O to 60 the girls started in. Dribbling and yelling and throwing their bodies in the air like fearless warriors. Some of them came down hard, jumped up, and threw themselves in the air again.
You go, girls. Do it for all of us. We’re counting on you.
Marshall called us back to order, showed us a few more moves, and congratulated me on a particularly well-placed kick. The fact that I was screaming a name at the time, he suggested, was not essential but if it made me feel more empowered, go for it. At the end of the class, one of the women apologized for letting an f-bomb fly, and we began a spirited discussion of the many ways the f-word could be used in appropriate contexts.
I’ll be going again next week.