Leotards & Legwarmers

If you’re looking for a girl who’s going to complain about how she never gets to exercise anymore because, between work and the kids and the husband and the house, who has the time, well, then, sorry, but you’re barking up the wrong blog. If you’ve read either of my books, which are, admittedly, based just slightly on my own life, then you know that I’m kind of a freak about exercise. It’s an obsession that started early for me; when I was just fourteen years old, my parents bought a family membership to Bally’s Total Fitness. With its neon-lit indoor track and high impact aerobics classes, Bally’s was a beacon of Jane Fonda, eighties-era exercise. My mother, who was always trying to lose weight, would take me to Bally’s with her after school, and we would talk as we did laps through the neon, or as we firmed our inner thighs on the adductor machines. Some of the best times I ever had with my mother were spent in leotards and leg warmers, and a light coating of sweat. I’ve stuck with the gym thing ever since.

Through college, where I had to beg, borrow and steal in order to pay my membership dues at The Nautilus Club, which, in terms of amenities, was about ten notches down from Bally’s on a good day, and then in law school, when I discovered the joys of a cheap, well-equipped YMCA in Washington D.C. Another, even better Y in downtown LA when I was practicing law and would sneak out during lunch to take a step class, and then, finally, my membership at the Sports Club/LA, which resembles a luxury hotel and costs about as much, too.

Before I had kids, when I was young and foolish, I exercised because I wanted to be thin, and I was regimented about my workouts. I would bring my gym bag with me to work nearly every morning, and I planned my life around the classes that were offered in the evenings (I’m big on group exercise – I would rather die a long, slow death than run on a treadmill for even five minutes). Now – older, wiser, ten pounds heavier – I still exercise because I want to be in shape (will the pooch in my stomach EVER go away?), but I also exercise because I want to be sane. Work, the kids, my husband, the house – somehow, it all seems so much more manageable after an hour of spinning or hiking or kickboxing. As a working mom, I’ve cut back on the frequency of my workouts – I’ve had to – but I’ve remained regimented about them. Those three hours a week are simply not negotiable. I don’t plan playdates, I don’t schedule meetings, and I don’t take my kids to activities. Lots of people say that exercise is an indulgence, but I think of it as a necessity, and it’s the one thing I do for myself that I do not at all feel guilty for doing. When I exercise consistently, I’m happier, I have more energy, and I am neither a raving bitch nor a lunatic, which everyone in my family seems to appreciate, particularly my husband. Plus, I’m showing my kids that exercise is a priority for me, and that I value my body enough to take care of it. I may not be a role model when it comes to cooking meals or sticking to a budget, but I feel really good about the fact that I’m at least doing one thing that the child development experts recommend.