Have you noticed that at this highly evolved time in our history, we have managed to nearly eliminate pain from our daily lives? But of course nature abhors a vacuum. Therefore, aerobics studios were invented, and, along with mindless sports, like running from nothing to nowhere, have put polite pain back into our daily lives.
For those who hunger for world-class polite pain, I can personally recommend the military aerobics class at Rio, A Workout in Mockingbird/Central Plaza. It fulfills its reputation as the hardest aerobic workout in town, an hour-long medley of masochistic movements designed particularly to strengthen your waist and abdomen while breaking your spirit.
After the ordeal, someone speaking in the strangled voice of a postoperative eunuch said the class was designed by a former Green Beret. Hah! Those wimpoids! No, it had to have been created by a direct descendant of Fray Tomas de Torquemada, that greatest of all Inquisitors, whose name has become virtually synonymous with torture as a fine art.
There were thirteen men and six women in the class I attended, along with a gender all by themselves, several members of the Highland Park High School wrestling team: young, muscled lads whose tight skin and unnatural muscular bulges made them look like condoms stuffed with walnuts. All of us were led by an attractive high priestess of torture dressed, appropriately, in black, who had a body that ceaselessly moved like a well-oiled machine. For the first fifteen minutes we jumped, stretched, pushed up and down, and did what used to be called “side straddle hops”; we extended and retracted like snails, squatted, thrusted, and, in general, imitated a dancer whose movements suggested her hair was on fire while at the same time her clothes were inhabited by fire ants.
So far, so merely unbearable. Chest heaving, glasses fogged, sweat falling like a tropical downpour, body screaming in protest, and all this accompanied by a deafening, hideous disco beat-that steady thump of a giant moron knocking in an endless nail. As in life itself, the worst was yet to come: jumping rope for-who knows-it seemed a lifetime. Without stopping.
After the jump rope, we were issued two black socks filled with extremely heavy pebbles or ball bearings, hand weights to ensure zealous seekers of polite pain got their money’s worth. Then more leaping and “Hands Up, Masked Man” movements while our leader, Cindy Dodson, who had more moves than Allied Van Lines, occasionally shouted unintelligible commands that sounded like, “Bef norka wumple THREE! Gorst tweezer reggae ABS! Dorp bunka and TWO!”
The last fifteen minutes were a blur, ebbs and Hows of methodical tides of tonnent until, at last, we stretched out on blue mats. While others pumped legs like World War II pom-pom guns, I crumpled like a soiled napkin. Of course, I was adding years to my life thanks to this misery. It was only later that I realized the time added exactly equaled the time spent enduring the polite pain.