Stockholm Syndrome for the Flabby

My relationship with the airlines thrusts me into moral crisis. When I fly, they make me angry. They treat me condescendingly; they torment me with their itty seats; they feed me not; the handlers bark at me when I inconveniently have to use the bathroom during Beverage Service.

Of course, if the handlers could bother themselves to whip up a free screwdriver for me from that beverage cart, I’d be more than willing to draw upon a decade of Kegel exercises and apply it to achieving the urological wonder called “holding it.” Indeed, Airlines, you should know that if I have a free drink in hand, my bladder becomes gloriously bathed in a numbing solution that allows it to exceed normal human limits. O Airlines, you parsimonious curs, if only you would ply me with vodka, I would stop trying to hurdle your beverage cart. I am eminently pliable. I’m so pliable that my gangsta tag is Triple-Ply.

Yet DeltaWestAmerinental gives me nothing, save a leg cramp, a ripped suitcase, and a false “buh-bye” at the door upon my limping exit.

Strangely, though, despite this torment, I keep going back. I hate them, but they have made me feel I need them. They have created in me an uneasy reliance. I am loathe to question the power dynamic between us; rather, I would prefer to cloud my vision by peering through my single Ziploc bag full of 3 ounce bottles and blindly do as they say. If they look askance at me, I will apologize for my cosmetics. I give them money, and I am their client, yet, queerly, they own me.

Such is the case, as well, with the fitness instructor at the local Y, a Gym Nazi with AK-47’s for arms and Jaivana cannons for legs. GymNastika makes me whimper, but I love her**.

In particular, I am obsessed with–yet hide in the back during–GymNastika’s weekly Pilates Fusion class, in which my well-padded abdominals search for life and sunlight while being throttled by a series of exercises involving one of those big balance balls.

Some of you crunchy types are probably sitting on one right now, in front of your computer screen, with some misguided idea that the give and malleability of it will save your spine. If you are one of those people, give me a call, as I have a really amazing complementary ergonomic elbow saver–it looks a lot like a felt-covered plank on top of some sawhorses, but trust me, it’ll revolutionize your posture (and I’m the only licensed dealer in the Lower 48).

So if you’re sitting on a balance ball right now, you’re either My Kind of Sucker, or your contractions are about three minutes apart; either way, stop your whining, stand up, and look at that thing. It’s big. It’s fun. It has just the right plasticy bounce. It’s the happy-clown-pinwheel of desk-sitting, baby-catching, and exercise equipment, ja?

Not in the hands of the GymNastika. For her, it is the instrument of a very specific torture. You wouldn’t believe what she gets a gym full of spray-tanned-women-swathed-in-gold-jewelry, four men, and me to do with that thing.

Check it, Moondoggie:

Now do each of these things fifty-ninety times, and that’ll be your warm-up. Sure, as I am stretched on the Rack of Balance Ball, I find solace and motivation in the driving beat of Bananarama singing “She’s got it/Yea, baby, she’s got it.” What fool wouldn’t?

But mostly I groan and sweat and pray to Saint Brucejenner while I rub his gold medal (and stroke his waxy facelift). Every now and then, when my oxygen stores are depleted from doing a shaky one-footed side plank…

…I fade off into my own reverie about H.R. Pufnstuf and how I wish I had a talking flute that could bolster my spirits when Witchiepoo (or GymNastika) tried to freak my shit right off the Living Island.

(extra-credit homework: compare Witchiepoo and Bruce Jenner, and write a paragraph making a case that one is distinctly more horrifying than the other)

Eventually, though, Bananarama stops singing, Bruce Jenner’s face melts into magma, I tuck away my magic flute, and all that’s left on the floor of the gym are my screaming abs and tattered self-esteem.

As I roll up my mat, delirious with the promise of escape-at-hand, I am, simultaneously, grateful to my captor and tormenter, the GymNastika. I have been through agonies at her hands; I will be back. I am a heteroclite.

Which does not mean I only like clitorises of the opposite sex. You. Depraved. Pree-vert.

Perhaps strangest of all is the fact that the escapees, in both a soaring Pilates class and on an overseas airline flight, burst into spontaneous applause at the moment of release.

The bastards had us in their grip. We hated the experience; we loved it. But as we dash off into the fresh air, we are happy. And we know it. So we clap our hands.

**If you want to see the GymNastika in person, you can watch a video of her from the local news . Just keep in mind she’s playing nice in this clip; try imagining her wielding barbells and yelling at you that every bite of pizza contains 500 calories.





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26 responses to “Stockholm Syndrome for the Flabby”

  1. flutter Avatar


    Surely now the gods of pilates will bring a pox upon your house, way to go.

  2. amymalia Avatar

    I really love it when you use lots of pictures because I can’t use words too good.

  3. amymalia Avatar

    I’m commenting to your comment (oh crap, what’s the comment courtesy here? Do I comment on your comment on my comment, or yours?) which is to say, send me the link, pour favor.

  4. amymalia Avatar

    Right. Got it. You’re all fast, and stuff.

  5. Claire Avatar

    Still snickering at “parsimonious curs”… Southwest, do you hear me?
    My seriously buff college football playing son swears by that ‘core training’ stuff involving ass-kicking balancing exercises, that and 4 million pound squats.

  6. furiousBall Avatar

    i’m waiting for the hippity hop version of pilates, then i’ll swoop down and kick ass… non-stop

  7. Tai Avatar

    You know, I’ve had a lot of s*x in my time, and NONE of it required any of those postions.
    So as far as I’m concerned, they’re all sh*t.
    (Or, I’m alarming dull in bed. You choose. But be kind.)

  8. Tai Avatar

    And I didn’t mean SIX when I said S*X.

    Just so you know.

  9. Calamity Jane Avatar
    Calamity Jane

    Yeah but have you ever (been) committed and bought one of these Fantastic clothes valet, my clothes used to be all over the floor but not now.

  10. citizen of the world Avatar
    citizen of the world

    I used to love flying before they got so stingy and made you start buying unappealing snacks. Now, bleh. But how else do you get there?

    As for those exercises, I note that all but one of them you showed involve putting weight on your hands with your wrists bent. With my carpal tunnel problems, I’m be unable to write for two weeks after that. Guess it’s not for me.

  11. Jazz Avatar

    Wow. Somehow I never had you figured as a masochist…

  12. Rob Hopcott Avatar
    Rob Hopcott

    Too tense man …

    Relax into a warm chocolate jacuzzi …

    And chill …

    It’s all simple …

    Math milkshakes …

    Pi lattes 🙂

  13. lime Avatar

    i would have to say that bruce jenner is more disturbing than witchiepoo for a couple reasons. first of all he paid to look like he does now. the actress portraying witchiepoo gets paid to look like that. also, mr. jenner’s face is like that forever, or until he pays for the next surgical mutilation whereas the actress can presumably wash her face and look like a human being again.

  14. Dragonfly Avatar

    if the handlers could bother themselves to whip up a free screwdriver for me from that beverage cart, I’d be more than willing to draw upon a decade of Kegel exercises and apply it to achieving the urological wonder called “holding it” – – –

    Bwahahahahahhahahaha! Oh dear lord, AMENNNNNNNNNNNNNN!

  15. Ann(ie) Avatar

    I always enjoy your posts!! Always. But, your comments section is equally hysterical!

    I’m getting a plane tonight and bringing my own snacks thankyouverymuch.

  16. Her Grace Avatar
    Her Grace

    Sometimes, when I have 1000 unread posts in my reader, I’ll try to skim as many as I can to get the gist of what they say.

    Whenever I try to skim your posts, (and I don’t often, because I might miss something spectacular), I always find myself at the end with a question in my head like:

    “Bruce Jenner does Pilates? Wah?”

    And then I must go back and read the whole thing.

    I’m always glad I did.

  17. Maggie Avatar

    You know if you do enough Pilates, you could get so limber that the next time you ride one of those winged sky-cars, you could maybe tuck your legs up over your head and I’ll be you’d be waaaaay more comfortable. Just a thought.

  18. Minnesota Matron Avatar
    Minnesota Matron

    If I gave you space travel and baby food, you would weave them together. Knitting needles and Elliot Spitzer? So one snappy post. Just too smart for an academic, I’m sorry.

  19. August Avatar

    I love the disparates you tie together. From Delta West to Bruce Jenner — you do it so seamlessly.

    You should have a weekly column called: GymNastika’s Pilates Fusion Class.


  20. amymalia Avatar

    Thanks for the link. She makes me want to jump off a roof she’s so funny.

  21. my4kids Avatar

    OMG you make me laugh. I swear I have to actually take aside time just for your posts…sometimes it takes me a bit to understand….
    I saw the pictures…too painful to me. I don’t have that kind of confidence in my arms to hold me up.

  22. heartinsanfrancisco Avatar

    My yoga ball (red) has been deflated and stored in a closet for about a year now. The Flip Nazi decided that it wasn’t being used enough to justify its large presence in our living space.

    But at least I have someone to blame for being out of shape.

  23. Glamourpuss Avatar

    Bloody hell, you must be strong as. There’s no way I could do those mad exercises. All power to the fitness Nazi.


  24. BeachMama Avatar

    I love this one. I need Gymnastika right about now to whip my butt into shape. It is hard to believe that less than a year ago when I was still pregnant I could do most of that with those silly balls. Here I am 6mos post and I would fall flat on my face.

  25. Diana Avatar

    I am truly horrified, both that you are choosing to inflict the Gymnastika on yourself AND what the hell you are doing with that ball.

    Clearly, there’s not enough pizza in the world to make up for this. Then you go and throw scary New Bruce Jenner into the mix (way worse than Witchiepoo, thank you) and I’m quivering in terror, hiding under my desk.

    I think I need a hug.

  26. My Sanctuary Avatar
    My Sanctuary


    I scanned down your posts and feel a bit saner about mine. Ha, ha.

    I’m working on something WACKY, involving the General Hospital Ice Princess Saga, the denizens of Living Island and a rather unorthodox alliance that saves the world from the ULTA-EVIL CASSIDINES.

    Who wants Nostalgia anymore? I Do, I DO!!

    Not EXACTLY a prediction, but something Witchiepoo MIGHT wanna hear about her future. She will die in the arms of a suave Australian.

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