A Recalcitrant Wife and Mother Tells All

Sweatin’ with the Oldies

This was originally published in May of 2009, but a funny post over at Declutter Daily reminded me about it and I think the timing is right to crack it open and dust it off

Know what I hate more than anything about going to the gym? It’s not the pain, it’s not the time out of my busy child-rearing/husband-wrangling schedule, it’s not even the increased risk of contracting necrotizing fasciitis… it’s having to socialize while I’m tired, sweaty, stinky and nasty. Shoot, if I wanted to do that, I could just stay home and have sex with my husband. Meh.

But alas, it’s almost swimsuit season and I’ve got to firm up these buns and thighs before someone tries to throw me on the grill and baste me at the Memorial Day Pool Party. Besides, my extensive team of psychiatric advisors tells me that daily physical activity is good for all that ails me. And by daily physical activity, they mean more than just lifting my wine glass to my mouth repeatedly and/or drying my kale. Dammit.

So on Monday, I shimmied my goodie basket into a pair of painfully high-waisted yoga pants and headed off for the YMCA… a.k.a., the “Y-ABC,” according to my scrumdeli-icious toddler Bucket Head. And after a very concentrated and effective 30 minutes on the elliptical and three sets of “ow-this hurts” on the machines, I managed to make it almost all the way to the front door without having to chit chat with anyone while pretending there wasn’t a big ol’ pool of sweat collecting around my camel toe, when what did I hear but, “Iris? Is that YOU?”


Of all the people! It was Saint Margaret. She is seriously, no joke, one of the nicest people I have ever met in my whole life. And for some unknown reason, she likes me. She really likes me. And we hardly ever see each other anymore, what with all her volunteer work, and church-going, and tennis lessons and my rampant alcohol dependence, and clutter hoarding, and therapy appointments.

But there we were, sweaty face to sweaty face, doing the “So, what’s new with you?” dance. I was clearly in a hurry to skedaddle and extract the lycra from my crotch, so she suggested we meet again later this week and do a class together.

“Uh… I don’t really do the classes, Marg.”

“How come?!”

“Well, the last time I did one, it totally kicked my ass. I couldn’t walk for days. And not only that, but it was humiliating. I couldn’t keep up and I was embarrassed. I ended up slinking out before the end of the class with my tail between my legs.”

“That’s why you have to do the classes! The peer pressure forces you to go further than you normally would on your own! And if you do it with a friend, you will be less likely to sneak out before the end of the class! You’ll see results so much faster!”

“Ugh… really?”

“Yes. Do a class with me. It will be great! Only three more weeks until summer!”

“Oh…kay.” (with a heavy sigh)

And so less than 48 hours later, there I was, back at the gym with Saint Margaret, walking into a class called “Stability Ball.”

I know what you’re thinking… but don’t worry, apparently being stable isn’t a requirement. And they supply the balls.

Neither of us had done this class before and had no idea what we were getting into, but we guessed it was going to work our abs and I’ll do anything to reduce the size of my stretch-marked-muffin-top… well, anything except refrain from eating an entire bag of Boy Scout “Unbelievable Butter” microwave popcorn every night in a reclined position while The Gatekeeper flips back and forth between Law and Order SVU and Law and Order Criminal Intent and Law and Order Mail Fraud Division. Whatever.  Just fucking shoot me.

Now this next part is going to sound a wee bit agist, and it is. So to my more mature readers, I apologize in advance. When Saint Margaret and I got to the class, I noticed a few, ahem, “older” ladies getting settled in. With the exception of seeing their varicose vein covered legs ballooning out of their lycra short-shorts, having them there gave me a great deal of comfort. If the cast of Cocoon can hang with the Stability Ball class, hopefully, so could I. Maybe I wouldn’t have to sneak out halfway through and spring for a new tube of Ben Gay.

Anyhoooo…. two things. First off, I now see why they keep the music up so loud in these classes: to disguise all the noises coming from the hot pockets in the room. Seriously guys, can’t someone design some workout clothes for women that include some kind of cork-like apparatus for the hoo hoo? No? Well then, how about some soundproof yoga pants? Hey, that is a great idea! I need to patent that. You heard it here first, peeps.

And number two… why do instructors save all the really hard moves for the end of the class? It started off so easy… we were each sitting, SITTING, I say, on a big rubber exercise ball, lifting little three pound weights up and down, up and down. I especially liked the sitting part. Piece of cake! Then we were doing sit ups with our backs on the ball. Also, not so bad. I was hanging in there! But then, the class got a little bit harder. No more sitting, we were suddenly on our bellies, rolling forward on the ball, doing PUSH UPS with our hands on the floor and only our feet on the ball. I kid you not. You know you are doing something dangerous when the instructor says: “Protect your faces!” Yikes! Excuse me, but any kind of exercise where I have to protect my face is not eligible for The Bearded Iris Seal of Approval.

I was pretty impressed with myself that I could hang with the modified pushups. I looked at the clock… only ten minutes left! YES! I was going to make it! And then, we entered the Sudden Death Round. Seriously. After 45 minutes, who has the energy to take it to the next level? This crazy bitch instructor (who could not only do all these moves while talking, smiling, and squealing “Whooop-Whoop” to the music) told us to lie on our backs, hold the balls straight up in the air with our feet, and pass the balls back and forth to and from our hands, like inverted jack-knives opening and closing. I never felt so stupid in all my life… including Senior Prom Night 20 years ago, but that’s another story.

To add insult to injury, not only could I not do the ball handling jack knife move, but one look in the wall-to-wall mirror showed me that everyone else in the class was doing just fine with it, including the three Golden Girls. I’m only 39 years old, and every single person in that class could have kicked my ass with one liver-spotted arm behind their back. Dammit. No wonder my Wii Fit Age enables me to receive a virtual AARP discount card.

But am I a quitter? Especially with the end so near? You betcha. Once I realized there was no way in hell my arms, legs, back, abs, and hoo hoo were going to cooperate with that jack knife move, I snuck outta there faster than you can say “queef.” I was like the old timers at church on Sunday who take communion and keep walking… right to their cars… you know, to avoid the traffic. I’ll just tell Saint Margaret that I sprung a leak and had to go change my Poise Pad. Maybe if she thinks I’m incontinent, she’ll be less likely to invite me to another class and I can go back to exercising the way I like it: alone and without shame, pain, or embarrassing noises. If you don’t hear from me for a while, just assume I pulled a muscle and am nursing myself back to health.

noisily yours,


©  2009 The Bearded Iris


  1. MM

    Pure class. It just can’t be bought.

    Your writing is sublime (“tired, sweaty, stinky and nasty…”; perfect zinger). Seeing a new Iris post makes my day. And thank you for confirming why I never sign up for gyms.

  2. Amanda Thomsen

    Scarlett, it sounds like you met your Melanie Wilkes in Saint Margaret….. I have one too. I just don’t get it.

  3. KC

    What drugs are the instructors on and where do I get some? Clearly the Y-ABC is feeding steroids and speed to grannies….

  4. Flyrock Jane

    Too funny Iris. BTW I have since learned, in relaying this website to my west-coast buddy via phone, that in some parts of the good ol’ USA a qweef is called a vart.

  5. Megan

    Thanks for the mention. I’m glad you dusted this one off. Too funny.

    Flyrock Jane: Vart? That’s educational. Thanks for that.

  6. Didi

    You are “toooooo funny”!!!! I’m so glad I discovered your site thru Melanie @ Coupon Goddess, or “Melanie in the Middle”!!! OMG, I can’t wait for you next segment!!!f

    Meanwhile, I don’t go to the gym but do everything I can at home, FOR THAT PARTICULAR reason!!! I want to know “what their on”, and “when they take it”. Not because I want some… I want to know when to avoid them!!!!

  7. Jeanne B.

    In high school, I read everything Erma Bombeck ever wrote. I have not laughed with such gut-splitting joy since then.

    Until today. 🙂

  8. northernmum

    oh I am so pleased you dusted this one off!


  9. Allysgrandma

    Oh lord I needed a good laugh. Just got home from the hospital where DH is laid up with pneumonia. Yes he was that sick. If I was as good a writer as you I could write about his discomfort at having to describe his bm to the nurse after 8 days without one. I mean that is one thing after almost 33 years of marriage, we do not discuss our bms….We have never crapped in front of one another, well I did once while giving birth, but I don’t think that counts……Well time for my sleeping meds and up tomorrow to sit in the hospital all day and knit. At least I am getting a lot done on granddaughter’s spring dress. Oh and I have lupus. Yes Friday was a day filled with wonderful events.

  10. Kris

    I read this post on Friday and went to the gym twice over the weekend. I ripped a big one in your honor yesterday morning while on the elliptical.

  11. DysfunctionalMommy

    Thank you SO much for this post.
    You made me laugh so hard I sprung a leak, ripped ass like a truck driver AND got an ab workout!
    I propose a reposting at least once a year. If you could also include a great legume-heavy recipe, my joy would be complete!
    The comments are hilarious too! God bless all you ladies!

    • The Bearded Iris

      Oh my God, you had me at “ripped ass like a truck driver.” Thank you for that!

      • DysfunctionalMommy

        I made myself laugh on that one. LOL
        To brighten your day even more, when I read this post to my mom, she got a wee bit tootie as well, which is SO awesome because she wears a girdle (I call her noises “the yirdle”). AND she snorted! High-5 to you, lady!

        • The Bearded Iris

          OMG – you just made me actually laugh out loud (which I hardly EVER do) with your pet name for your mom’s girdle-stiffled noises! HOLY CRAP! That is some funny shit. High fives all around!!!

          • DysfunctionalMommy

            Awesome! I think we’re even then ’cause I rarely laugh out loud for real either. (I’m a giggle on the inside kinda girl.)

  12. FiveOGrrl

    im glad you didnt take this class after the holiday dinner at your sister in laws..lmao

    • The Bearded Iris

      OMG, you know it, sister. Thank you SO much for reading all my stories and taking the time to comment! You are a GIFT!!!

  13. Shannon

    Preach. It. Sister. Having just run into this very issue while doing a shoulder stand and plow pose in yoga this morning BY MYSELF in front of the instructor to ‘work on my form’ I needed to read this. 🙂

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