Health, self improvement, Women

NO PLACE LIKE KATHY’S (or aka home gym vs going to the gym)

I bought a treadmill. The purchasing experience was a nightmare, but once I settled down and made peace with my NordicTrack and subsequently purchased a Pelaton bike for spite to NordicTrack (if you don’t know me this will definitely make you scratch your head), I officially had my own workout studio. 

My workout studio. Stunning. In full view of my backyard garden. I figure that each time I work out, it is probably costing me about five hundred dollars a workout. But I love having my own workout equipment. I turn on my Pelaton app and I have a personal trainer all to myself. It is a miraculous paradigm shift in fitness training. If I had a gym or a studio that was part of my lifelong career plan, these type of home workout studios would be make me extremely worried about my business future. 

On the other hand, not everyone has the luxury of space like I have where they can place the equipment in my actual business away from the cluttering of my living room, or down in a basement where I am sure many of these contraptions are used for coat hooks rather than their intended use. 

My true reason, though, for delving into this new realm was two fold. One is that I am picky about how I workout with the masses. I love to walk alone. I love to run at a track, but New England winters don’t always give me the luxury of an outdoor jaunt. In case there was any question, I am not the type of person who will run or walk in wind, rain, sleet, snow. I love to workout, but I also love to sit on the couch and write, so if it is raining, I am not headed outdoors. 

Secondly, when I work out, I have to love the instructor— too much jibber jabber, too many positive affirmations being belted out telling me how much self-love I should be giving myself, too much of anything that grates me equals the last time I am working out with that trainer. I am not there to have my brain mind melded by some thirty year old self proclaimed life coach who doesn’t have the life experience that I do screaming at me that I am, indeed, good enough. 

I would rather walk downstairs and get a workout in- taught by some hot Pelaton chick or guy who won’t take it personal if I don’t show up at the next class. If the class roster at any given day is accurate, they don’t really need alayne50 rhode island, because they have hundreds of ‘mega mammas,’ ‘lovely ladies,’ ‘Minnesota twins’ and all of the other cutesie names Pelaton riders give themselves so as to not give their true identity away, like I did, before I realized that my name would be showing up at every workout I showed up for. 

To be perfectly transparent, it has occurred to me that I could just sign up for a class and take my sweet old time watching Jessie or Brett bark orders at me while I sipped my morning coffee and pedaled like I was ‘racing’ on some lovely flat road in Spain or France somewhere. But then my stats, rather than being somewhere in the middle of the thousands of riders as far as Pelatons’s cadence and resistance goes, would definitely be at the end of the finish line.

 I do have my pride. 

Another factor is time. Because I am picky about who my line leader is, this has basically narrowed my instructors down to one, Kathy, the title of this piece today. First off, she is my age. She is self- deprecating. She talks about potato chips and drinking beer. 

Kathy is one of my most favorite people. Gigantic smile, laughs from the gut, she cracks me up pretty much the entire workout. The only reason that I bought equipment is that I don’t have her on demand. Sometimes her schedule doesn’t workout with my writing schedule, sometimes I don’t wake up in my partner’s bed- a ten minute drive to Kathy’s gym and instead am in my own home- a thirty minute or so drive each way, plus the workout, a big difference in my am routine. 

My am routine is my favorite part of the day. There is so much to do with so little time, especially if I sleep past my usual early wake up time of 5:30. I get most of my creative work done between 6-11am. Whether it is planning something new, or writing, working out, meditating, whatever I can do to encourage creativity and peace, the morning is when I do this. I get shit done in the am. So driving to and from a gym cuts into the precious morning time and I try to minimize this whenever I have the chance. 

I have used my new gym quite a bit. Working out with the hotties of Pelaton is a change of pace. I feel like they are my own personal trainers. Each and everyone of them are stunning, happy, smiley, incredibly fit, young and many have British accents which make for a nice addition to a work out for some odd reason. They play great music. I can pick who I want to work out with, when I want to work out. They have 10 minute, 15 minute, 20 minute and so on so if I need to get a quick workout in, I am all set. 

After spending about two months in my own gym, I headed back to Kathy, though. You see, I love the ability to work out when I want to, but what was missing loud and clear was the camaraderie of the gym. My peeps, the women and few men I have become accustomed to like heading back to summer camp after a school year away. Easy to forget when you are blasting through twenty minute Pelaton rides on a rainy day at home.  I love my workout peeps. I didn’t realize how much I missed them and the gym experience until I made my way back to them where I was greeted and welcomed back like a long lost friend. 

The gym was my safe space before and after both my breast cancer experiences, my surgeries, the recovery. The gym got me ready and the gym brought me back. Kathy’s space is not just any place. Yes it is a wonderful open place to work out and get fit, but it is also a place of connection and friendship. 

The social element to a good gym is something not to be dismissed. I remember the first time I went to a gym compared to now. The gym has changed me. I used to be self deprecating when it came to my body and my fitness level. I am a totally different person now. I find myself describing myself now proudly using the tagline: I am fit. It feels good to say this and even better to know it, to feel it, to be among a tribe of women and men who also feel the same way in the world. 

Health is miraculous. Keeping it strong and constant is one of those mandatory requirements these days now that we all know what we know about the results of it. Like when I see someone smoking, it still it surprises me that people don’t take exercise as seriously as they could. 

Now that I am on the receiving end of the benefits of exercise, mental and physical, there is no turning back. It is ‘quality of life’ security. I may not have a six pack, may not be some ideal goal weight, but what I have is stamina and an ability to walk for miles, climb stairs in Quebec, ride a bike throughout North Conway and on endless trails everywhere my partner and I travel. All because of my consistency with exercise and because of superchicks like Kathy who makes exercise not seem like work ( well that may be a stretch…).

I have written about Kathy before. But in this case, now that I have the luxury of my own home gym, a Pelaton app on my phone, frequent solo walks at some of the most beautiful views in New England to compare to Club Kathy, there isn’t much comparison. The time savings, the outdoor beauty are both a lovely addition, but will never be a replacement for a good old school Kathy Martin work out. The people, the friendliness, the break from the brain that never stops are all some of my favorite extra bonuses of working out at Kathy Martin’s gym. 

I may have my own treadmill and my own spin bike, but I am not planning on giving up my gym membership any time soon. She keeps me in shape in way more ways than a fit body.





“Of course you are going hiking when you still have stitches,” my friend, Julie Tremaine emailed me as we were trying to get together for a dinner date. I had casually mentioned my hiking and biking trip where I would be MIA for eight days as some dates I wouldn’t be available. Frankly, this thought never occurred to me, but there was some obvious truth to the statement as I got ready at the beginning of last week to be one with Mother Nature. So after traipsing all over the beautiful and color rich foliage laden towns surrounding North Conway with no cell phone and felt as good as I did, I assumed that I was back in full swing. Full swing meant that I could go on my favorite app and promptly sign up for a week full of workouts. Yoga at Bristol Yoga Studio Sunday with my goddess friend, Tracy, Monday at Pulse Gym for my favorite cardio weight class with my favorite instructor, Kathy Martin, Tuesday, a barre class, Weds a spin class and then a break Thursday and Friday. After all I had climbed over 25 miles on foot and ridden well over forty miles on bike on this beautiful vacation, I was ready to finally get back to my life. The yoga class was just what I needed on Sunday as always, it never disappoints. Followed by a bike ride on glorious Poppasquash Rd. through Colt State Park in Bristol, RI after hitting the market to fill my very empty fridge with a plush assortment of food for the week. As I got dressed for my first class back three and a half weeks after my final surgery, I actually forgot it was three and a half weeks after surgery and forgot to put on that support contraption of a bra the good Doctor had me wearing 24/7 for the first week post surgery. At my last appointment he told me I could cease wearing it because his work was coming along just perfectly (if he did say so himself, my words not his). So I stopped for the most part so as I got dressed yesterday for my first real kick ass boot camp style class, I actually forgot to put it on.

I walked into my familiar territory with my workout peeps and got set up in my preferred spot next to my workout idol, Kate and quickly realized that running in place, jumping in place, skiiers in place caused some upper body awareness I had not experienced in almost seven months. My breasts now moved. They swayed. They jiggled. This was a new sensation since for the past six months those hard bowling balls were as firm as a screw tightened by a drill. I had forgotten what moving parts felt like and I quickly came to the unfortunate realization that I should have worn the support bra. I slowed myself down, semi cupping my breasts using my hands for the support I should have. I started more low impact moves because I had no idea if my moving and shaking would cause this new silicone to readjust and realign in a way that may cause my breast to now become a part of my underarm or my collarbone. I just couldn’t believe I had been so foolish, but the fact of the matter was that I finally feel so great, I actually forgot. Forgetting even for a moment about all of this nightmare is definitely something I cherish even if it is fleeting.

Burpees, squats with overheads, bicep curls with situps, long jumping, chest presses, all seemed to be quick reminders that I shouldn’t be doing them so because I am not a person who has to prove anything to anyone except myself, I slowed down and made up my own workout. At the 40 minute mark, I decided that I had better stop this. After all I have my whole life to get back to my workouts. I didn’t want to set myself back. I was already moving forward at a great pace and I didn’t want to cause any reason to have to have another surgery purely for cosmetic reasons. Enough with the surgery already.

For some reason, some of my friends use the term supergirl or wonder woman. I know it is tongue and cheek, but I always cringe just a bit. It makes me feel like I am trying to be this super power force for some ulterior reason. I am not. I am not supergirl or wonder woman. I am just a chick who has a lot of energy, a lot of life in her and doesn’t want to waste a single moment not embracing its exclamation point. I like fitness because it settles my very busy brain. When I am not working out, I am not as calm in my head. Workouts are my natural Prozac. I don’t workout for any other reason- not for a kick ass body, not so I look better in a bathing suit, or a pair of tight jeans. Christ, I don’t even wear tight jeans these days. I am just so comfortable in my own skin, that I dress for comfort these days. It is hard to be in the beauty business and also represent the beauty world in yoga pants and Life is Good t shirts. But this is my honest truth. Comfort. With my lines, my skin, my body, my brain. I am not supergirl or wonder woman. I am just me and at 52 with my sporting new upper self, this is enough these days.