Four weeks ago we prepped for our first fitness boot camp class the best way we knew how — by eating a ton of Greek food the night before, drinking a few vodkas on the rocks and smoking a half-dozen cigarettes. This, it turns out, is a bad idea.
It never really occurred to us to see how many push-ups we could do on demand. We aren't, say, training for the U.S. Olympic badminton team or working for tips at Hooters, so we didn't give much thought to our physical prowess. As long as we could open up a dictionary or beer without breaking a sweat, we figured we were A-OK, fitnesswise. Our senselessly optimistic perspective was dashed within three minutes of our first hourlong class.
Even as our five-week, three-days-a-week session comes to a close, we still hope that some small disaster will thwart our scheduled 6 a.m. class at Francis Park. A flash flood, a fender-bender, a twisted ankle: None of these has happened yet and so here we are in our living room at the dark, unholy hour of 5 a.m. nursing a bottle of Naked Juice. We turn on the TV, study the radar, and implore any severe weather in the bistate area to drift our way.
Naked Juice comes in some two dozen flavors and claims to stuff a pound of fruit in each 15.2-ounce plastic bottle. And given its expense (close to $4), its mouthfeel (like thick soy milk) and the number of daily nutritional values it fulfills (lots), we believe it. This morning we choose Blue Machine. The label says the bottle is home to 27 blueberries, 3 blackberries, 3.25 apples and a banana, while reminding us that it is "not a low-calorie food" (340 calories for the whole shebang). It also requests that we shake it before consuming because "separation is natural," a slogan we bet will be adopted by some neo-Nazi group sooner or later. Like whiskey, we find that Blue Machine is best enjoyed in sips, not slams. It's borderline too rich for our palate, but that's to be expected when the single bottle accounts for more fruit than we've eaten in the past month.
Though Blue Machine's color is actually a plush violet, in the context of boot camp we appreciate the victorious connotation associated with the color blue and the superhuman strength of the word "machine." And yet there's nothing at all mechanical about boot camp. It's a wholly human experience: The way we can feel rivulets of sweat form on our scalp then freefall to the ground. How, when we collapse face-first into the grass after an abandoned push-up, we can see faint cilia sprout from the sides of a single blade of grass. The way we suppress a laugh when we hear a fart erupt from our neighbor, mid-sit-up.
By the end of class, we have the gait of a horse that should be shot and kind of wish someone would extend us the courtesy. But with just twenty yards to go, we force ourselves into a run. As we finish, we hear church bells peal and the skies open up, letting loose a thunderous downpour. It is 7 a.m. The severe weather we wished for is here — exactly one hour too late.
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