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Pal-lates: A Love Story

For the last ten years, whenever anyone has so much as mentioned "working out" or "hitting the gym" or "joining a gym" or "taking a class"—or, you know, "EXERCISE"—I've responded with the same stock answer:

"There's just no time you guys. There just isn't any time."

It's always been true, of course. It still is true. But only because there will never be time for the things that are important to my well-being unless I commit to making them a priority. It is so easy to write that in a sentence on a computer, but this has been a daily struggle for me my whole life. I do not know how to put my physical well-being first or even second. Or third. Or fourth. Or fifth.

There's no time, you know? There just isn't any time.

It's so cliche, isn't it? The parent who shleps her kids to six extra-curricular activities a week but cannot find the time to commit to one class for herself. I have wanted to smack myself in the face for not DOING what I KNOW I should be doing on so many occasions.

And then, six weeks ago, everything changed.

***

Every year, come New Year's, I make the same two resolutions:

1. Commit to reading one book a month.

2. Commit to strengthening your body on a daily basis.

While I've been able to chip away at my stack of bedside books in recent years, working out has been last on my list.

I am the classic "join a gym for a year and go once" type of person who has been known to buy blocks of yoga classes only to watch them expire after STILL not having used them three years later. Over the summer, when Hal wasn't working, we started doing Radius' online bootcamp workouts as a couple when the kids were asleep. But then Radius went out of business and that was that.

I still swear by Ballet Beautiful workouts, which I was able to commit to for a year when the twins were babies and my body was in need of a massive overhaul and I had no choice but to strengthen my core as not to throw my back out every time I tried to carry two carseats into Archer and Fable's school for pickup. (I highly recommend BB workouts for those who want a challenging full-body body workout without leaving the house. Mary-Helen is an AMAZING human and it was such a joy to work out with her every morning.) In those days, Hal had to be at work at 6:30 a.m. but I had Tamara to help me in the morn with all four kids. But I've been on my own in the mornings since last July and with Hal out the door at dawn, and me unable to get my ass out of bed at 5:30, I kind of just ... stopped.

But everything changed this summer when Hal's work schedule changed dramatically. So, when my pal Chelsea (whose daughter happens to be Fable's pal as well—apple/tree, like whoa) asked if I wanted to join her for 6 a.m. Pilates classes, I no longer had an excuse.

1. Hal was home in the mornings.

2. Working out at 6 a.m. wouldn't dig into work OR family time.

And while getting up at 5:30 a.m. was the worst-sounding thing I could think of, I said yes anyway. Because, Chelsea.

It takes a village to raise a family but it takes a friend to raise a woman from the depths of her own pile of excuses. It does for me, anyway.

When I think of SQUAD GOALS, I think of PARTNERS, not POSSES.

And Chelsea spoke to my SOUL when she asked me to join her as her plus one. Sometimes one needs to be invited into a new lifestyle in order to attend one. Or something.

"I'm in," I said, before ordering a full month of classes and setting my alarm for 5:30 a.m. the following morning.

I immediately regretted it, of course. Waking up in the pitch dark, cursing as I stepped into my yoga pants. But then, I thought of Chels. Up at the same fucking bullshit hour. Cursing the alarm and her own shoe she could not find the match to.

We were in this thing together. And it felt really good.

That was fifteen classes ago. Not one of which we have missed. Three days a week, at the buttcrack of dawn, I show up at Chelsea's place, text "I'm here!" and away we go into the night/day.

It has not been easy, of course. Waking up in the pitch dark. Barely being able to walk for the first two weeks. Getting yelled at by Glen who is quite possibly the scariest instructor of anything I have ever known. Not to mention the fact that our Pilates studio is a magnet for West Hollywood's hottest supermodels, all of whom are in incredible shape and can do one-handed planks like it's nothing.

But fuck it, you know? We're in this thing together. Cursing and sweating and wearing the clothes we slept in the night before. We may be hot messes but we are hot messes AS A TEAM and that, for me, has made all the difference.

When you have a pal to whisper profanities to, anything is possible. When you feel like you might pass out and die, having someone you adore on the megaformer beside you makes it feel kind of worth it. Solidarity, you know? It's a powerful thing.

So is watching the sun rise while completing an entire block of squats you were unable to do last week. So is getting home at 7 a.m. every morning in time to wake the kids up and make them breakfast. So is doing it again.

And again.

And again.

Last week Chelsea and I pushed our three days a week to four — committing to ourselves but also to each other.

Because dammit, there is time. There is always time.

(Photo stolen from Emily Wagner.)

Thank you, Chelsea, for being the minute hand on my otherwise-broken watch. Thank you for being my partner in finally-getting-my-ass-in-gear crime. Thank you for being my Pal-ate.

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