I am a Workout Dummy

By Felice Prager

I am a Workout Dummy

Ugh! Exercise!

Exercise was not something I did or ever thought I would do. I was embarrassed to go to an exercise club to workout with a trainer. I had always been a klutz, was never confident in knowing right from left, was on a small budget and just didn’t want to get into exercise with strangers. I knew I needed an exercise regimen to get into shape, but actually leaving the house to do this wasn’t for me. So I spent $6.99 each for two clearance rack videos, and I promised myself I would use them. They would not wind up on a shelf in the back of a closet like the various weight loss machines I had purchased from infomercials.

My first purchase was 15-Minute Workout for Dummies. I figured I had done no working out, working in, working up or working down in over 20 years so I qualified as the Ultimate Dummy. Plus, the cover on the video said, “4 Easy-to-Follow Workouts.” It sounded like a match made in Cellulite Heaven. I also saw Pilates Workout for Dummies. I had seen many infomercials for Pilates that claimed to give the person doing them a long lean body. I ignored the fact that I was barely five feet two. I ignored the reality that I would probably never be long or lean. If both videos were easy, I could alternate them. I could even do both tapes on the same day and take Sunday off for good behavior. The added bonus was that both videos had nice smiling women on their covers, and they seemed so fit! I could have tight buns and flat abs, too! And, if it made me look like the women on the covers, I’d have perfect hair and makeup, too.

On Day One, I waited for my family to leave the house. There was no way I was going to exercise in front of anyone. I got into loose shorts and a baggie top. Into the machine went 15-Minute Workouts for Dummies. I listened intently as the woman with the cute red hairstyle and abs of Kryptonite told me to take my time and do fewer good repetitions instead of more bad repetitions. Then the music started pumping. It was Disco all over again, and the nightmare began. Instead of inhaling and exhaling to the pulsating, rhythmic music, I was hyperventilating. Within three minutes, I was winded. I was tired. I could not keep up. I was reaching for my asthma inhaler. I was sweating in places I didn’t know the body could sweat. I was gasping for air. However, I kept my sense of humor. With my body still attempting to lunge and stretch with the super-fit Fitness Professional, being an adept multi-tasker, I picked up the phone and called my husband. (Heavy breathing) “Sam, if I’m dead when you get home, please have them wash off the sweat, un-frizz my hair, do a tummy-tuck, and squeeze me into my skinny jeans before you get rid of my body.” He laughed and told me how proud he was of me for trying something new.

The truth was that not being able to do this video proved two things: 1. I was still the klutz I was in the days of Disco, and 2. I was more out of shape than I had thought. Yet, I worked through all four 15-minute workouts that day. They were tough. I told myself I would never do them perfectly, but I would stay committed.

On Day Two, I did Pilates Workout for Dummies. It was a different type of exercise. At first, I liked it better because it was slower, but it was just as difficult, if not more so. The stretching was easy to do incorrectly. To do it right took focus and more effort than I had imagined. I stuck with that video until the end. I felt parts of my body I had forgotten I had. I hurt in places I did not want to remember. Then, I did not get up from the floor. I stayed on my back for about two hours. I earned a few hours of relaxation. If I was going to exercise, I was going to get rewards for doing it. I was even too tired to go into the kitchen. While stretched out on the floor, I realized I was exhausted, but I was NOT hungry.

That evening, I went to the closet where I hide things I don’t want to find, and I found a gag gift my husband had received for his 40th birthday: A Week with Raquel – 7 Day Wake Up and Shape-up Program. On Day Three of my exercise regime, I worked out with the still stunning Raquel Welch for fifteen minutes. It was not a strenuous exercise. I looked at Raquel and thought about Raquel’s body, wondering if it was like that because she always worked out or if she was just born with perfect genes. What Raquel did for me was warm me up for my Dummies exercises. I did not go all the way through the Dummies videos, but each day I increased the amount I could do.

Somewhere in the middle of this, I purchased two used copies of Richard Simmons’ videos from eBay. I had always made fun of Richard Simmons because of his outrageous behavior, but I knew he offered good aerobic exercises for overweight people. I knew he spoke from experience. His videos were actually fun. They were not difficult, although I did not look quite as talented as the people who were Sweatin’ to the Oldies. What I liked about his videos, besides the obvious upbeat music and easier format, was that the people who exercised with him were not all skin and bones. In addition, at the end of the video, he introduced each exerciser and below their names, the total weight they had lost was listed. It gave me hope that my meager 23-pound loss to that date could eventually be as significant as his dancers’ losses.

I figured a combination of these videos would be my exercise regime. I would work out and not get bored of any particular video. If I did not like one video, but it was good for me, I would not have to repeat it for several days.

There was a larger benefit, albeit small to many people. By exercising alone, I was building up my stamina to attempt new challenges. When my husband and I both got home from work early enough, I would be able to keep up with him when we went for a walk. This walk became an integral part of my exercise program, and was almost like going out on a date with my husband. We would walk and talk and be away from the phone, our kids and our daily duties for an hour. Walking with my husband was fun.

What was most important was that I finally admitted that I was one of those overweight people who needed more to guide me back to good health. I needed more than diet. I needed more than supportive friends and family. I needed exercise. My video collection is helping me with that.

About this writer

  • Felice Prager Felice Prager is a freelance writer and multisensory educational therapist from Scottsdale, Arizona. She is the author of five books: Waiting in the Wrong Line, Negotiable and Non-Negotiable Negotiations, TurboCharge Your Brain, SuperTurboCharge Your Brain, and Quiz It: ARIZONA. Her essays have been published locally, nationally and internationally in print and on the Internet. Learn more at www.WriteFunny.com.

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