23 July 2010

When Workouts Don't Really Work Out For Ya

Yeah so this working out thing ain't so fun sometimes. And while it may not be fun, working out can sometimes be funny. Disagree? Allow me to tell you a little tale that involves myself (well, duh), Allison, and Chelsea. Allison and Chelsea work in my office. Allison was a professional personal trainer just a few months ago. Chelsea has youth on her side in a big way.

The setting: The Stairs In Santa Monica. As in, that's what people call them 'round these parts. (and also on the Travel Channel whenever some chirpy travel host comes to L.A. to film a segment on "Top Ten Places to See in L.A.!")

The time: Workout Wednesday. As in, that's what Allison and I call the one day of the week when we get together to workout. (usually this entails Allison exercising some mad athletic skill while I exercise my right to walk like a grandma at the mall.)

So we arrive at The Stairs In Santa Monica around 6:30--in the evening. I haven't completely lost my mind to go and climb these stairs in the morning. Here's an image, so you can visualize what I am referring to when I say The Stairs In Santa Monica

Yeah, so see how there are mountains? And a valley? Well, The Stairs In Santa Monica literally scale the side of a cliff. There are actually two sets of stairs--a wooden set of stairs and a concrete set of stairs. The wooden set of stairs has 189 steps (of torture). The concrete set of stairs probably have the same amount of steps with an added bonus, the concrete steps are steeper.

Most people climb the stairs a couple of times and then hang around at the top of the stairs, posing as though they are being photographed for the cover of Shape Magazine. It's actually quite ridiculous and pretentious. People do push-ups on the sidewalk. Trainers say things like, "Oh the shaking in your legs is good. If you feel like you're going to pass out, just sit in the grass and drink some water." Girls do yoga...in the grassy median...in the middle of 4th Street.

Allison, being a former trainer and all, can climb the stairs a half-dozen times without much problem. Oh, and she runs a half block after she climbs all 189 steps. Chelsea, thinking this was normal behavior perhaps, did as Allison did. I, on the other hand, climbed the stairs ONCE and then went for a walk.

I walked past the asphalt push-up competitions, beyond a clump of people huffing and puffing as they posed along the guard rail trying to look like they weren't about to die, and around a pair of yummy mummies yacking it up about a sale at Fred Segal. I walked to the only thing I'll really miss about L.A. when I leave again--the curve of the coastline from the Pacific Palisades to Malibu. I imagine what each of the lights dotting the hillside represents: a woman from East L.A. tidying up a kitchen the size of her studio apartment, plush leather couches, shiny Audis parked in a row, a family eating pasta around a giant wooden table bought from a fancy shop on Melrose, lazy dogs taking in million-dollar views on back porches. Sometimes I imagine I am far away from this city, maybe in the tiny village of Deia off the coast of Spain or soaking up Italy's Amalfi Coast.

I think this view is the reason I work out at all.

After my walk down Adelaide Drive, I see Chelsea emerge from the canyon red-faced and panting after 5 climbs up the stairs. Her legs are shaking like Jell-o, so she decides she needs to "walk it off." I take her back down Adelaide, towards the ocean. The view is so stunning you can't help but forget about the fear of your heart literally pounding its way out of your chest. Soon Allison joins us. She has climbed the stairs 6 times, she thinks. So the three of us walk around this make-shift outdoor gym on the edge of a canyon.

Now, this being L.A. and people being people, you are watching other people while they watch you. Women size other women up and men, well who knows who these men are sizing up. As Allison, Chelsea and I were walking back in the direction of our car, I watched the faces of three guys posing in workout positions. (I say posing because these guys weren't sweating a drop, hadn't climbed the stairs once, and looked like they would be more comfortable in front of an Excel spreadsheet than they would be in front of a stack of dumbbells).

First they saw Allison, the trainer in cute green shorts. Eyes boggle. Then they see Chelsea, the college student with youth on her side. Eyes boggle again. Then they see me--the chaperone in old yoga pants.

The line between The Palisades and Malibu

15 July 2010

Flash Cards Only Work When You Look At Them.

I've been studying for the GRE lately, a topic that I will discuss a bit more in a post later. Well I should say I've had good intentions to study. And you know what they say about good intentions--a highway to a very hot place is paved with those.

Anyways, I've been sorta studying vocab words and word associations and yucky ol' math. Every day I carry flash cards to work in a nice cotton bag covered in tiny flowers. The cards are divided into three stacks: words I know, words I do not know, and word roots Kaplan says I should know.

I'm packing up now to leave for the day, and I just realized that I haven't taken one look at my flash cards this week. Or my math problems. Or the word roots Kaplans says I should know.

Sigh. Maybe the GRE will give me some points for good intentions.