In Which Our Heroine Attempts to Get Ripa-fied

I am double-jointed.

While this might sound to like the first line of a really sleazy personal ad, it is nevertheless true. As a child, the ritual of dressing in seventy-five layers so I could go outside (a la A Christmas Story) usually involved at least one exchange like this:

MA: OK, sweetie, I think that’s it. Now we just need to put on your mittens and OH MY GOD!

YOURS TRULY: What’s wrong, Mommy?

MA (Hastily freeing my thumb from its position back near the elbow of my many sleeves with a sound similar to a doorstop being kicked – SPROOOOING!): Nothing, honey! We’ll go outside as soon as Mommy takes her nerve pill.

Later in my life, I was taking out the trash (an odious chore made worse by the freezing drizzle that had been falling for four days at that point) when I slipped in the alley behind our house, performing a series of acrobatic and gracile maneuvers not seen since…well, ever. I did the splits, slammed into the wall of the neighbor’s house, and popped my left leg free of its socket. This left me running around in little circles on the ground, making an assortment of noises we shall not attempt to render via onomatopoeia. Luckily, my father heard my cries and, assuming a wandering moose had somehow become caught in the gears of a combine, came running out to see what happened. Sizing up the situation, my father (never a man to clutter his mind with inconsequentialities like medical training, panic or possible disfigurment) said “hold still, I need to look at your leg,” then grabbed my thigh and jammed my leg home like I owed him money. There was a loud TWANG!, followed by a sensation not unlike someone JAMMING YOUR LEG BACK INTO ITS SOCKET. However, moments later, when I’d unclamped my hands from the now-crushed trashcan, I discovered that not only could I walk, but I was pain-free (at least physically). Dad muttered something along the lines of “just like that time I fell off the radar tower” and went back inside to his paper, while I did a little jig and went inside to write bad adolescent poetry about the preciousness of life.

I could go on, but I sense your eyelids fluttering. My point here is, I’m bendy. Not Gumby bendy, but pretty freaking bendy. Which is why, as I grew tired of the Tour De Farce and sought ways to supplement my flagging dedication to daily exercise by adding some toning, I turned to my Fit Friend Laura. Fit Friend Laura, who has achieved a level of health and fitness I assumed unattainable by mortals, is constantly playing in soccer leagues and running 5Ks and scaling Kilimanjaro and things like that. Since she is the E.F. Hutton of fitness, when she recommended the Lotte Berk series of workout DVDs, I listened.

For those of you unfamiliar with Lotte Berk and (let us assume) her method, she is the German dancer who, over thirty years ago, created a method of torturing enemy combatants until they wept for their mamas toning, stretching and sculpting designed to improve flexibility, cardiovascular fitness, and strength all at the same time. It seems that her protoge, one Ms. Lydia Bach, saw how well this method worked on the dancers and decided to share it with the world (at a price, naturally).

All of which led to one Kelly Ripa (she of the teeny-tiny body and washboard abs, perched chirpily next to Regis) incorporating the LB method into her workout, which in turn led to her amazing new look (helped along, of course, by her trainer, personal chef and a metabolism identical to that of a chipmunk).  Like a lot of women, I heard Kelly talk about it and thought to myself, “Jeez, if Kelly Ripa can do it, so can I!”

And I can. Just barely.

There are four DVDs in the series: Basic Essentials, Muscle Eats Fat, Hip-Hugger Abs, and the somewhat disturbingly punnish High Round Assets. Now, I know this will come as a shock, but I decided to start with Basic Essentials and work my way up the pain ladder.

I take it back – I’m not bendy. Or at least not Lotte Berk bendy. After three workouts (you do the workout every other day), I am no longer grimacing when I reach above my head, but my abdomen, long a region accustomed to my profound but otherwise benign neglect, has been complaining strenuously. Thanks to something called the Lotte Berk Tuck, I have achieved a sort of semi-startled posture, in which I am constantly reminded that I could (and should) be sitting up straighter – shoulders back, chin down, “seat” tucked in, abs tight. It’s the physical equivalent of having Ma yell at me for slouching.

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I can easily see myself having stronger self-control, based solely on the fear of having to do my workout with too much dinner in me (I keep picturing turkey and mashed potatoes shooting out of my belly button like Thanksgiving plasma, destroying all in its path).

Lotte Berk promises that “in 10 days, you’ll feel a difference, and in 20, you’ll see a difference.”

Well, it’s been six days, and I’ve already noticed a difference. My computer monitors had to be adjusted because they were too low for new, non-slouchy Claire. Someone asked me if I had lost more weight when I walked into work today. My married crush said “I’m leaving Bonehead and running away with you, you latina goddess of exceeding bendyness.”

OK, not that last one.

Damn it.

But I digress. I will say that I feel better, and while I’m sure that most of that is psychosomatic, I can easily see myself sticking with this, especially since it gives me something to alternate with the Tour De Farce. As I move further into my transition, I find myself more and more willing to make improvements to a body I ignored for far too long.

After all, the LB method worked for Lotte Berk and Lydia Bach…why shouldn’t it work for La Barceloneta?


6 Responses

  1. I totally need to learn to stop slouching!! This might be just what I need…

  2. Hmm… tempting. But I hate paying money for exercise videos… and it’s not at my library. Maybe I’ll see how my cycling class in January goes and then consider getting into this. I do agree that mixing up the workout is a must if you don’t want to get burned out.

  3. I really need something like this. I shall ask Santa.

  4. These workouts (in a nice heated indoor setting)seem better than treking in HARSH COLD Thorny Badlands.
    Although, I would consider you a badass either way.

  5. […] rolls and reverse push-ups without crying. Well, without crying A LOT. And it’s all thanks to Lotte Berk. My campaign to become stretchy is only a few weeks old, but if I can just stick with this and the […]

  6. […] as you resolve your gender issues. Plus, the testosterone will help you build muscle, which, as the Lotte Berk method teaches us, eats fat. Sure, you’ll have to work hard, but I’ll bet that with your […]

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