The Middle-Aged Woman's Fantasy Workout

Exercising with a 20-something is absolutely surreal

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There are only two of us at the Tabata workout today: 52-year-old me and a 20-something girl.

I refuse to be intimidated. The benefits of aging aren't restricted to wisdom and self-knowledge but include grit, moxie and endurance. In other words, I'm gonna take this kid down to Chinatown.

You just know she spends most of her time at Delta Gamma, doing stretching exercises in full hair and makeup, wearing her grandma's pearls while robotically chanting sisterhood songs as the house mother darns her lace thong in the powder room.

"OK, ladies, we're gonna sprint for 30 seconds," yells former private-military-contractor-turned-Tabata-instructor Mack (short for Machiavelli). "Let's see how many times you can sprint across the room, touch the floor and sprint back."

I'm having a hot flash but will use it as fuel. I've got this!

"And go!"

I am running! I am fleet of foot. I am a fleet fox. Oh, yes! I beat the sorority girl to the wall and touch the floor first. I'm running back now.

I'm so fast and ... things are getting blurry.

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I'm still running back. And. I. Just. Touched. The floor again. Ahead. Of that. Adolescent.

I'm … what's that sound? Is a phone ringing somewhere? Will someone pick it up? It's just rinnnnnnngnggggggnnnnnnggg and seems to be coming from inside my head.

The room suddenly goes dark!

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Mother? Mother, why is it so dark?


I'm lying on my back. The Delta Gamma seems to be slapping me in the face while shrieking, "Old lady, wake up! I'd hate to see you turned into Soylent Green!"

"What ... what did you say?" I ask while slipping in and out of consciousness.

"I asked if you're OK?"

"I'm fine."

"Let me help you up."

"I don't need your stinkin' pity!"

"If you're up for it, Shannon, we're doing burpees next," shouts Mack, jogging in place like a paratrooper as Fergie sings "My humps, my humps, my lovely lady lumps" over the P.A.

"Of course I'm up for it. Do I look like freakin' Betty White?"

Shake it off, Shannon. You've got this. You can out-burpee the blond infant.

Mack yells, "And go!"

Squat, jump, plank. Squat, jump, plank. I'm laying waste to the burpee exercise. I can hardly even feel my legs. Or my hands. Or my feet.

But wait … is Sorority Girl doing them faster than me? I will not let her beat me.

Squatjumpplanksquatjumpplank. I'm killing it. 52 is the new 12. Squatjumpplanksquatjumpplank.

And then ... my bladder lets go.

The world recedes to the pinpoint of Sorority Girl's left pupil staring down at me for the second time as she seems to be saying, "Your daughters called ... they say it's time to put you in A Place For Mom where they serve generous helpings of Ensure!"

"Ageist hater," I whisper.

"I didn't say anything," she lies. "You're hallucinating."

"You'd like me to believe that, wouldn't you, Honey Boo Boo?!"

Mack finishes mopping up my mess. "OK, ladies, it's on to Ab-Ripper X, if Shannon's bowels can hold!"

"Ewwwwww," the Sorority Girl and I think simultaneously.

"We're starting with Crunchy Frogs … and go!"

Crunchy Frogs? That's the worst you can dish out? C'mon, Mack. I could use a little challenge here.

Crunch. Ribbit. Crunch. Ribbit. Crunchribbitcrunchribbitcrunch … wait, who is this dude standing over me?

It's Ryan Gosling!

I wish he weren't wearing a shirt. Wait. He's saying something to me, but I can't hear it because the ringing is back. Somebody answer the fucking phone!

"Shannon," Ryan's voice echoes from a great distance, "You're still doable. I would totally let you cougar me, because you're still smokin' hot. So much hotter than that ridiculous puberty case over there. You'll always be hot if you just crunchribbitcrunchribbitcrunchribbit."

"I think my pancreas just shut down," I grunt to Ryan.

But Ryan's gone and, for the third time, stuck-up Sorority Girl seems to float above my face threatening me.

"You're going to get up off that floor right now," she seems to be saying, "or I'm gonna pawn your typewriter and rotary phone."

Mercifully, the world again goes black.

I awaken on a stretcher, has it been minutes? Hours? Weeks? My husband hovers over me, looking like his typical exasperated self.

"You tried to out-exercise a 20-year-old again, didn't you?" he asks.

I can't respond because I've swallowed my tongue, but what I will eventually tell him is:

I didn't let that little bitch beat me!