Athletic Lady Wear

20140124-122515.jpg

Recently I attended an US Weekly sponsored Tracy Anderson workout: I basically died from the adrenaline of meeting my fitness guru. Miraculously I was revived when she cupped my ass with her hands and told me that I was a “star student.” She then furrowed her taut brow and warned me to focus more on my glutes (not my quads). The earth shattered and then embraced me in its deconstructed fragments as I looked into her big blue eyes surrounded by orange poreless skin. She was so small that I could tuck her into my hip like a child as we posed for photos. I felt so much guilt for all the times I have ever strayed from her narrow and difficult path and felt confident that if I return to her PROGRAM, everything will be okay, everything will be manageable. As the less dutiful attendees asked her silly questions about what to do if her workouts are too hard on your knees, she ignored them and refocused on me and Joanne from Connecticut when we proudly announced that we had been following her for three years. I joked that it was such a treat to be felt up by her in public. Tracy slyly replied that it was a treat to feel me up in public. Oh Tracy, such a sense of humor.

Okay, now that you know about my cult experience, on to the real issue.

Would I have had even more fun at this event if my sneakers were as colorful as my amazing Onzie tights? Yes. And the nice thing is you HAVE to replace your running shoes, so next time around I am totally going to get those Asics Gel-Kayanos in purple and pink. Because . . . it’s what Tracy would do.

images-3

But there is a darker side to athletic wear. One that I have become very attuned to since my time in Indiana and NYC. This is the dangerous world of replacing normal clothes with stylish and fun athletic wear. A concept that I am constantly toying with:

20140124-181640.jpg

Now some people do this in a way that truly elevates sneakers to actual clothing.

s11

The much much darker side of this is the full on athletic wear look:

AdrianneHo_SweatIt_Pink_4

As I stand behind women in full on black leggings and neon sneakers (NYC) or sorority girls in running shorts and tank tops with very large armholes (Indiana) in a Starbucks line, I am filled with awe at their superwomen inspired outfits. But the real reason that I cannot emulate these women is not their impressively skinny limbs, it’s that these women are not messy like I am. They have well-clipped cuticles, water-proof mascara, and most importantly, tanned and well moisturized skin that seems to blend into the stretchy and tight athletic wear. They wear their skin like lycra and their lycra like skin.

Only when I have mastered the putty colored manicure and bare yet glowing skin, all topped off with a smart blazer and some ankle grazing slacks should I be allowed to wear these as my footwear:

06690_OR5884

-D

2014 Resolutions

I normally begin each year with a long list of resolutions that I never keep. It’s so much fun to make a list of things that will make me a better me, even if I know I’m very unlikely to change my habits. This year will be different, though.* Instead of a really long list, I’m going to concentrate on just two bigger projects. We’ll see what happens.**

1) Streamline my kitchen duties.

-When I cook even the simplest of meals, it seems to take FOREVER to clean up. Normally, this isn’t a bad thing, as it enables me to listen to my many beloved podcasts. However, I’d like to streamline the process a bit since my life will soon descend into the chaos that is caring for two babies and I won’t have the luxury*** of spending 45 minutes every night restoring my kitchen to gleaming perfection.

-I’d also like to learn to cook on the fly, without depending on recipes so much. I feel like this will help me rely less on fast food and will also help me make better meals from leftovers. If that doesn’t work, I’d like to memorize more recipes.

2) Create a new look for myself.

-I really need to get myself a less schizophrenic and less cheap-ass wardrobe. This might be a goal to put off for several months because I a) just had a baby and will not be at a consistent weight for a bit and b) am poor. However, I could probably start by editing my current closet down to pieces that I actually look good in and wear all the time. I could also window shop for a coherent look that is more age-appropriate than the style I currently have.****

-Be better at makeup and skincare. I’ve got the rosacea under control, and now it’s time to start in on the wrinkles.

C

*Probably not.

**Probably nothing.

***Did I mention I am an insane person who enjoys cleaning when it comes to the kitchen? Don’t I seem like someone you’d love to hang out with?

****Aged late-1990s hardcore fan with a penchant for quirky vintage pieces that never quite fit correctly and make me look slightly crazy.

Dance Cardio

Rich lady cardio abounds in NYC, and sometimes I like to treat myself to a bit of $30 per class excess. But if I am going to pay premium for unreasonably beautiful people to yell at me for an hour, I prefer the world of dance cardio to indoor cycling. This is simply a matter of taste. I enjoy faux back-up dancer wiggling. Now for a special treat I might take myself over to Body by Simone, where the water always has cucumber and lemon in it, and I might possibly run into Anne Hatheway or Sandra Bullock. I have actually never run into them, but I did work out with Matt Damon’s wife once.

Or I’ll hop over to DMF, where the dance routines are easier to follow and the women are less famous.

At a Body By Simone dance class you will essentially jump around Jane Fonda style with some hip hop break downs for an entire hour.

Simone is of course the sectarian apostate of Ms. Tracy Anderson, whose dance classes I cannot attend because she does not open her Tribeca studio to plebians. But I do sometimes jump around to her cardio at home when I am certain that my downstairs neighbors are not home.

But of course jumping around by yourself is not sustainable. It is too hard (I dare you to try 5 minutes of this workout), and you are missing out on the most fun part of pretending to be in a music video, namely the image of yourself in a floor length mirror moving in sync with ten other women.

Fortunately, there is an innovative and cheap version of this whole craze because we are in AMERICA. And because we are AMERICANS we can experience the joy of dance cardio mixed up in the joys of cultural appropriation. I give you Zumba! The exclamation point might actually be part of their trademark.

Now, this video accurately captures what is fundamentally great about Zumba: the majority of the people are not doing the dance very well but are still having fun, the moves are actually sexy, and you get to listen to an ungodly amount of Shakira. It does not, however, accurately represent the skills of your teacher who will be delightfully uncoordinated despite their enthusiasm. The best thing about Zumba is its pervasiveness. Zumba is EVERYWHERE. Check you YMCA or university gym schedule and I promise that you will find a happy group of overweight 50 year old women, some healthy grandmothers and grandfathers, and a few precocious 15 year old girls, getting down to the beats of Reggaeton.

Will you be dripping in sweat? Maybe not. This is pretty low impact. But you could do this for the rest of your life and you probably be a happier person. My Zumba class takes place on Saturday morning in a rec center, with about five 60 year old women plus me, and we are really starting to nail that “Sexy and I Know It” dance.

-D

The Politics of Lady Exercise

Image

I workout alone partly because I like the time to myself but also because the idea of revealing my embarrassing exercise interests to my very smart lady friends makes me uncomfortable. I really really wish that I was interested in CrossFit, so that I too could talk to the world about how strength is my only goal and how women have been shamed into lifting small weights as a new form of subjugation. Some very smart people have been talking about women’s right to take up space with fat, muscles, or whatever they please (I say women, because I don’t know these people and thus feel like the familiar “lady” would be unfair). Or I wish that I was a marathon runner who could link my fitness goals to being outside and conquering my fears. But,

1) CrossFit costs money and makes me worried about injuries

2) I am still subject to the ideology of taking up less space (hey, if we are being precise, we don’t choose our ideologies)

3) Training and running for marathons takes too much time.

So here is my meager defense of my exercise style:

1) The ability to keep working out is entirely dependent on how you feel WHILE you are doing it (anyone who tells you that the feeling afterwards is enough is bulls**ting you). And I like to feel like a Janet Jackson backup dancer, a cast member of Center Stage, or a vaguely orientalist Sun goddess. Basically I am defending my right to feeling like a femme while I sweat.

2) My desire to be skinny is pretty indefensible and I am working on it, OK?! As long as I turn off the volume on Tracy Anderson or the really annoying blogilates lady I can work on shifting the focus of these workouts from weight loss towards personal happiness.

3) Femme workouts are just as effective as butch workouts. Effective at what you ask? Effective at giving you functional strength and endurance (lifting, bending, moving for a while), preventing injuries from the terrifying parts of life (sitting for hours, falling, twisting your ankle in high heels). Joseph Pilates was pretty smart. And I totally understand that the people who like butch workouts are tired of defending their preferences against misogynist and strangely homophobic threats of “bulkiness;” but, there is also another kind of anti-femme rhetoric embedded in CrossFit people’s defensive statements about what beautiful functional bodies look like.

My real shame? I wish I could just do this all the time:

Some day. Sigh.

Dana is a graduate student and nanny living in Brooklyn.

Free Exercise -Cardio Edition

Free cardio is theoretically easy, it is called walking and running. And if you really want to take your free cardio to the next level, I highly suggest getting yourself a jump rope and taking it to the park. 15 minutes of jump roping is as good as a 30 minute run.
But, if you are like me, and you are tired of the endless routine of slopping on sunscreen, sweating it off, and having to reapply, then cardio inside is really essential.
Also, I tend to live in apartments where I can really annoy my neighbors when I jump around. So here are some almost silent, free, indoor-cardio workouts. Once again the patter of the instructors is pretty unbearable, so I highly suggest muting these wierdos and putting on your own music.

Dana is a graduate student and nanny in Brooklyn.

Free Exercise

I refuse to pay for exercise because the internet now provides a bounty of workout videos for free. Don’t worry, it is not because I believe people got all the exercise they needed from manual labor before the advent of white collar labor and our post-industrial society robs us of this benefit. This is what all three of my first boyfriends believed and told me every time I went to the gym.

Working out with free videos on youtube also has the benefit of providing a much need mental game that tricks me into working out. Assembling the videos sucks me in, and then I am already sort of committed to working out. So here are some videos that I often use . . . but be warned, free youtube videos often come with pretty annoying fitness instructors gabbing at you with lo-fi audio equipment.

Dana is a graduate student and nanny in New York City

On Flapping

Flapping has many advantages:
a. it feels very therapeutic on shoulders that are tense or injured
b. you don’t need weights, which you might not own
c. it makes your shoulders very shapely
d. you feel tired, but not dying-tired, so you are more likely to do it often

Disadvantages:
a. connected to the unfortunate rhetoric about “dancers” and “lean long muscles”
b. you look super stupid

 

Dana is a graduate student and nanny in New York City

Blog at WordPress.com.