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My excessive energy, extreme narcissism, and intense love of neon-colored spandex is both managed and fueled by my addiction to fitness. I push myself to extremes and I push other people's buttons. Obviously I needed my own blog.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Sweatin' to the Oldies

Today's post is in honor of my bestest friend Kristen because today is her birthday. Yesterday I made a photo collage out of pictures I took at a recent work conference during a morning session called Sweatin' to the Oldies. I swear I can't make this shit up. Since I was told I couldn't go to CrossFit because I needed to be available at 7 AM, my options were going to this or sitting in a meeting. The Richard Simmons video was not easy, especially if you were a bit hungover like I was.

As I was employing my awesome picmonkey skills, I remembered that many years ago, as in 2011, Kristen went to a Richard Simmons class. Read this epic interview that I've somehow let linger in my inbox for more than three years.

Question #1: How did you end up taking a Richard Simmons workout class?

The year was 1992 and my parents had a routine. Every Friday night was spent on a dinner date and I would be left at home with my neighbor Peg who would watch me each week. Peg was an older woman who struggled with her weight, often wore t-shirts of marine animals, and always partook in my nightly Yodel indulgence.

At that time, despite my love of Drake brand pastries, I was very into the Mousercise aerobics videos (which coupled my love of Mickey Mouse with my undying penchant for neon spandex). It was the 90s and I was loving life. One day, I put the Mousercise VHS in and got to work. This time, was not like the others. I had the work-out moves memorized and thought someone, somewhere would notice if I started the next group of exercise before the people on the TV screen caught up. Mousercise grew old and the moves were child's play. I decided to scour my mother's VHS collection for something more challenging. I came across Jane Fonda and while her outfits weren't as bright, there weren't any pre-teens to freakishly admire, and there were no cartoon mice doing splits, she would just have to do. As I climbed the TV cabinet, ready to embark on my more mature exercise routine, my babysitter (who lived across the street at the time) recommended I try"Sweatin' to the Oldies" with Richard Simmons. Peg claimed to have the VHS at her house and it would only take a minute to retrieve. I did recall seeing this man on the late-night infomercials; the obese, weeping women. He would comfort them, inspire them, get them off their dimpled asses and whip them into whirlwind of fun, and excitement. It was as if for a moment, they had completely forgotten that they were morbidly obese and could just let go and let loose. Peculiar as it was, I was intrigued. "Go get your Richard Simmons tape; I would be happy to try it with you." Not more than 10 minutes later was I in a full on sweat dancing to the oldies and jumping around with Peg. This routine carried on for several months, until it eventually just faded into childhood memory...

While out in Los Angeles, a friend of mine, let's call her Shivie, nonchalantly mentioned that our friend from college took an aerobics class with Richard Simmons. "Isn't that funny?" She quipped. "Funny? That's incredible. Where is it and when can we go?" I'm not sure Shivie took me seriously at that moment, but since she uttered the words Richard Simmons, I couldn't get the vision of my TV room, 1992, Peg, and the prospect of me dancing alongside the man, the legend, out of my head.

Shivie and I did some research and discovered that Richard Simmons taught an aerobics class three times a week for the extremely reasonable price of $12. He always was a man of the people. Saturday would be the day, and despite blacking out drunk the night before, I was hell bent on being the first to run through the doors of Slimmons Studio.

Question #2: What did you wear?

Had I known about Richard's workout class prior to my trip to Los Angeles, I would have been fully prepared with neon and spandex in hand. But on such short notice, and the unwillingness to pay an additional $25 to stuff my checked luggage with new clothes, I decided to go with what I had; my sister's sorority pinnie and running shorts. However, I did leave the class with a spiffy new "I Sweat with Richard Simmons" t-shirt.

Question #3: What was Richard wearing?

This was the question running through my mind for hours beforehand. Will he be in that red striped shirt with matching spandex shorts? Will he wear something classically 80s, or will he throw us for a loop? Will his hair still be perfectly coiffed into a puffy globe? I would have never in my wildest dreams predicted what was about to unfold...

As the doors of the studio opened and people RAN to their chosen spot on the studio floor, I stood there baffled, looking around. Where was he? And then -- there he was. Richard Simmons, head to toe in women's lingerie; a black corset, thigh highs, fake lashes, and blush. His hair, just as it always was, was puffy - though it was thinner now. At the age of 64, this was not the Richard I had always known but once the music began and the crowd caught Richard fever, I knew he was the same old Richard.

Question #4: What was the most out of mind you saw or did during this class?

The initial vision of Richard's outfit was quite jarring, though there were several things that were beyond the beyond. The room split at one point and I quickly discovered we were about to do a Sharks/Jets dance off. I snapped my way toward the other half of the room and lived out what could have only been a wild fantasy prior to this moment. There was a lot of gyrating...Richard clearly had an eye for the good looking men in the class but never gave an inappropriate touch. Just a couple of close calls.

What I was most surprised about (though I don't know why it was really a shock) was how genuinely kind Richard was. He encouraged class regulars to keep up the good work, he welcomed newcomers and complimented them endlessly. He remembered birthdays, anniversaries, the stories of people who had taken the class even only a couple of times.

At the end of the class, we all gathered 'round in a circle and celebrated everyone who had a birthday in the class. There was a lot of clapping and cheering and I left the class on an emotional and physical high!

Question #5: What do you normally do to workout?
I run on the treadmill 3x a week. Most recently I've been doing Jackie Warner's treadmill routine (Walk on a 10.0 Incline for two min, spring on a 1.0 incline for 2 min, catch my breath). I also do Pilate's on Saturday and try to walk to places around Manhattan whenever possible.

Question #6: What nickname would you like to be referred to on In Shape Out of Mind to avoid google searches? (This last question is when we used to make efforts to protect the innocent.)

Fisshie Mouse

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