Going through hell for heavenly abs

My body’s not so much a temple right now, as it is a miasma of hellish pain.

Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

“Si mnataka abs?” The spawn of Satan asks as he straightens my legs for maximum pain. When he skips off to torture someone else, I can almost make out his red forked tail swinging behind him with glee. As I gasp and groan through the bloody 20 more that he asked for – blood’s a real possibility at this point, not sure whose though, his or mine – I’m regretting all the French fries that have led me here. Those sinfully delicious, crispy devils! They must have been in league with him, maybe a relation thrice removed; temptation is the devil’s business after all and this family didn’t have to sell their souls to get good at it.

An eternity later, I’m lying flat on my mat, rethinking my life choices and my thoughts on what constitutes a hot bod; what’s a little muffin top between friends? It just means there’s more of me to love and hold on to, right? And I can always buy more clothes to replace the ones that are too tight now. Woohoo! There’s a silver lining! My self-indulgent thoughts are interrupted by a voice that feels like a crack of a whip on a back filled with bloody welts. Oh no! The sadistic bastard has some more torturous workouts that he’d like to put us through.

This time, he has us jumping like we’re on a hot-coal filled floor. Calling out one instruction after another, like dominoes stacked on each other – which instruction will be my downfall, I wonder. The gym veterans get into their well-choreographed war dance as their chief calls out, “switch, double right, single left, single right, double left, switch, jumping jacks, twist….” The instructions go on and on, with me and my two left feet trying to keep up. Just when I think I have finally gotten it right, feeling all smug that I have mastered this shit – and waiting for the instructor to echo Henry Higgins and sing out loud, “By George, she’s got it!” – the unrelenting devil switches out the moves and am back to being a fish out of water, doing my mathogothanios once more.

The war dance finally comes to an end and following the trainer’s lead, we are now on our knees – thank God, maybe now I can finally pray for deliverance. But I never get the chance because it turns out this is just a pit stop to another hell dimension. This time we’re in contortionist hell for the moves the instructor is modeling for us would confound even the Cirque du Soleil acrobats. The smug-ass devil patiently repeats the exercises that have our blank looks switching to horrified ones. He expects us to do what? If I survive this, I’m definitely going shopping in the darknet for a hitman to take him out.  Already planning the assassin’s ad in my head, I’m interrupted by the trainer straightening and lowering my legs until they are like half a foot away from the floor; apparently, I was doing it wrong, no surprise there. When I was doing it my way, it bloody hurt! But his way, it more than hurts; my limbs are on fire! And not the cool kind of fire but the hellish one!

This reminds me of the biblical rich man, the one from the parables who whilst being tormented in hell and seeing Lazarus – the poor beggar who used to feed on the scraps that fell from his table –now in heaven with Abraham, asks for him to dip his finger in water and use that to cool him off. Just like that rich man, my companion in Dante’s third and fourth circles; I feasted sumptuously on fries in my other life and am now in gym hell paying for my sins. I’m not lacking for water though. I’m actually at risk of being waterboarded by my own sweat.

Proving he is the devil I consider him to be, the trainer doesn’t give us a break to recover from Cirque du hell, before going back to the war dance again. And after what seems like forever, we are back on the mats again, lying and thrusting like actors in a badly scripted porno. It’s all pain though, no pleasure, like an S&M session gone wrong. What was my freaking safe word? 

It just won’t do, to have the trainer taken out, I think as pain shoots through my abdominal region, arms, and thighs. My body’s not so much a temple right now, as it is a miasma of hellish pain. I’ll have the assassin torture him first. After putting me through this much pain, he doesn’t deserve a quick painless death, no! Not at all. I’m also adding my brother to the list as well. The huge gym rat who high-fived me when I told him that I was finally planning on taking my lazy-ass to the gym and could he please hook me up. And who when he saw me working out; out of shape and out of sync with the gym veterans, laughed and told me, “Don’t tell them I’m your bro. You’re embarrassing me with those moves.” Yep! He’s on my shitlist too.

Guys, when your gym-loving brother agrees to hook you up with his gym and tells you there’s a high-five and proud-big-brother look in it for you?  When he tells you he can even get you two-week free sessions while you get your gym feet on? Don’t fall for that! Issa trap! For you’ll get two cute trainers who make you sweat a little. But you don’t mind as long as you get to enjoy the view. You’ll have seasoned gym goers urging you on, telling you, “usigive up” and “usijali utalearn.”

So you settle in, become complacent; not knowing that the cute instructors are just low-level demons, auditioning to join the Devil’s crew. Until the day he comes, The Big Daddy, baba yao, The Devil himself. There are no encouraging words then from your sweat sisters. For they too are dealing with him, sweating blood and tears just like you, maybe just a little bit less than you but that’s about it. They may know the war dance but that doesn’t spare them from his wrath or from dying in battle. So don’t be ensnared. Stay in the sea of fatty fries goodness, my friends. That’s where it’s at! Planning fratricide and picturing the trainer’s cries of pain as my hitman tortures him, I finally manage a tired smile. That smile doesn’t last long.

With my 90 minutes of hell finally coming to an end, the trainer’s instructions and moves have me wanting to join Neon Trees in singing, “You’re killing me now.” But my mouth is dry and I can’t even croak out the lyric. When Hitler’s reincarnation asks for his final 20 more, my body almost gives out on me. I’m too tired to tell him to fuck off; I can’t even lift the damn middle finger. My hate-filled heart is willing but the flesh is definitely weak. So I try to give him a filthy look as he hovers over me, waiting for me to start on his 20 more, but I just manage to look constipated. Finally getting what he wants, he skips off to torture someone else. With that level of energy, I’m starting to think that he’s pain-powered; the more pain he puts us through, the stronger and more energetic he becomes.

It’s the final 10 moves now; 10 moves standing between me and the end of today’s aerobics. The road leading out of hell is in sight. An eerie calm settles over me – mind over matter – as I tap into the last of my energy reserves.  It’s do or die, the latter looking likelier by the second. As I gasp through the countdown, I think about the inscription that will be under my name and today’s date on my tombstone, “she went through hell for heavenly abs.”