Family Matters

Boot Camp, Week 5: Sharing the Fitness Love

Getting fit is easier with a buddy — or a spouse — who can commiserate about the devilishness of V-ups

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Peter Kindersley / Lifesize / Getty Images

Boy, am I glad I started my New Year’s resolution last year. No lofty list of intentions here; I’m already a month into my get-fit plan.

January, of course, is the equivalent of physical fitness’ glory days. Everyone decides they were entirely too slovenly in the previous year; when the gym opens for business after New Year’s Day, the parking lots are predictably full. By February and certainly by March, they’ve begun to thin out; exercise is one resolution people tend to routinely break, notes Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project.

But I plan for my Honda Odyssey to continue making the trek. In December, this mom of three who finds that cleaning up after meals is infinitely easier if I simply eat my kids’ leftovers succumbed to a pitch: get a head start on 2012 resolutions by embarking on an abs-crunching, metabolism-firing boot camp NOW.

Did I mention the intro rate was just $99 for 16 classes? It seemed a small price to pay for better health. Plus, I felt rather proud of myself for being ahead of the game in my beginning-of-the-year-fitness-flush. In the past month, I’ve discovered muscles I never knew I had. And beneath the baby fat that’s hung around as a not-so-sweet reminder of my pregnancies, I swear I can see the beginnings of a six-pack. (I’ll continue chronicling my journey here on Healthland every other Friday; please share your own exercise adventures — good and bad — in the comments section.)

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One day this week, I decided to dispatch my husband in my place. My benevolence was part genuine, part self-centered: what with the demands of family and work, neither of us has dedicated time to work out. Boot camp’s early-morning time slot has been just what I’ve needed to jumpstart my day. I figured I’d share the love.

But I was also curious: was the 45-minute circuit-training class truly challenging, or did I only think it was? Verdict: it’s challenging. We commiserated on the impossibility of “V-ups” — lying down with legs flat and arms raised over your head, contract your abs so that your legs and arms raise into a “V.” Now do it for 60 seconds. Ugh.

I’ve also made a friend — Evelyn, my boot-camp buddy. It’s cliché to say that friends make so many aspects of life more tolerable, but it’s true, and exercise is no exception. We chat about literature and weekend trips when we’re not out of breath. We team up when pairs are called for, and she always chooses the heavier weights, leaving the lighter ones for me. See why I like her?

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She’s the one who sent me this Wall Street Journal article, a tongue-in-cheek take on the rules of the gym. While the Journal’s Jason Gay notes that “sweating is a good way to begin 2012,” he also points out the following: “No one in the history of gyms has ever lost a pound while reading “The New Yorker” and slowly pedaling a recumbent bicycle. No one.”

That could explain why I’ve never gotten in shape. Although, truth be told, this boot-camp regimen hasn’t melted away the pounds either. I’d pretty much avoided carbs until last week, when my son requested a chocolate cake with butterscotch icing for his birthday. It was a very good cake, and when I stepped on the scale on Thursday, my weight reflected as much. The 1 lb. I’d lost had since returned.

Back to boot camp. And so much for resolutions.