I Must Endure

By Barbara Schilling Hurwitz

Up until the limitations of COVID, I took great pride in my Orange Theory Fitness classes where, yes, I brought up the average age tenfold. While attempting to disguise my septuagenarian chronology, I donned fashionable Lululemon attire and pink soled Asics Glide Rides. Twice a week the high-volume, hip-hop music-filled hour challenged me with heart pounding powerwalks on the treadmill, burning quads on the water rower, and muscle fatiguing

full-body floor exercises. My speeds, my weights, and my endurance and reps increased to respectable numbers, however, I must confess to new levels of exhaustion throughout each sweat dripping, hair frizzing, painful workout. But high-fives and voices of encouragement from my nameless youthful mates helped me to endure and return.

On alternating days, I worked out at Club Pilates, with women more my age and a litany of similar aging complaints—painful knees, sciatica, weak abdominals, etc. But together we gave those reformer machines a workout while they fatigued our bodies, stretching, pushing, pulling us in all directions. We left together feeling two inches taller, proud, fulfilled, and often we stopped to share a coffee, personal stories while building friendships.

Then came COVID. My studios closed. I lost touch with my budding companions. And my husband switched from soulmate to sole mate. But I didn’t let that stop me from maintaining those hard earned, well-defined biceps, quads and flattened abs. In fact, workouts have even increased to seven days a week.

Exercise begins each morning now dressed in my comfiest leggings, T-shirts and slippers. I run up and down the stairs with great speed several times a day, maintaining leg strength and building hearing acuity while searching for my ringing cell phone. Weight lifting continues, controlled by laundry size, and rowing has transferred nicely to vacuuming carpets and mopping with my Swiffer. I continue to stretch reaching for cold, wet clothes clinging to the drum of the washer and twist, swinging the tangled load into the mouth of the dryer. This exercise circuit later closes with deep knee bends, lifting, hugging the warmed, fresh-scented clothes to the countertop for folding. And while the twisting and knee bends have discovered unhappy joints often crying out for Advil, I know I must endure.

Days close with my favorite strength training exercise, forearm lifts, completed with my faithful companion. We prepare by filling two tall, insulated glasses with as much ice as they can hold, add two ounces of gin to each, and fill the remainder of the glasses with tonic. Then with our bodies stretched over lounge chairs in the yard, under the glow of the early evening sun, we toast to another day of good health, and repeatedly lift our chilled glasses to our lips, without bothering to count reps until the sun sets.

Best of all, I’m excited to share, just yesterday, my on-line fire pit purchase arrived, so not even cocktail workouts in the yard can be shut down by COVID.

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Barbara Schilling Hurwitz is a veteran teacher who has found a new voice through creative writing. Her stories have appeared in literary journals including American Writers Review 2020, The Writer’s Rock Quarterly, The Drabble, and Fewer than 500. She lives in Bethesda, Maryland with her husband.

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