During the wee hours of this morning, I was at my computer working on revisions for the novel, focusing on setup and thinking a lot about Forces of Antagonism, wanting to make sure they are strong enough throughout the story. Little did I know I would put this very principle to work a few hours later in a group exercise class:

Had I been living in the moment I would have looked around and noticed there was no one in the gym under the age of 40. That’s your first clue. But I was too focused on claiming a central spot  (first time taking the class, wanted a good view of the teacher), gathering my exercise ball, two sets of weights, the little green ball, that stretchy thing, a yoga mat and making sure I had a towel for said funky mat. Then I saw my friend Lucinda (not her real name) so we shared a solidarity hug, half-a-chat and by then the class was starting.

The teacher put on the music and I immediately knew I was in the wrong place: she played Muzak Christmas music, starting with a very jingly version of We Wish You a Merry Christmas, like you might hear at Grocery Outlet or Piggly Wiggly. There I was in the center of the room and I needed oxygen. How do you gracefully get out of the class you should not be in without crushing the nice teacher’s feelings?

An idea popped into my head: I quickly ran over to the sideline, rummaging through my backpack—as if I needed tissue for my not-runny nose. Like a junkie, I dug out my iPod and discreetly dialed to Beyoncé and Shakira’s Beautiful Liar, put the earbuds in and rejoined the class. I could still hear the teacher’s voice over my music, but now everybody else was (sorta) moving to the pukey Christmas music while I was to trying to move to Beyoncé and Shakira. I was in some kind of a schizophrenic-bipolar-stretch-and-core zone of my own. I had to get out. But the teacher was looking right at me—the new student—and smiling…maybe at how well I was keeping up?

At a tiny break, where the teacher talked about washing your hands and staying away from sick people, I went over and half-chatted some more with Lucinda.

“I can’t take it,” I said under my breath.
“It’s the music, right?” Lucinda answered to my surprise.
Lo and behold! She couldn’t stand it either!

Still I had no idea how to get out of that room with grace, so I went back to my spot.

I dug my iPod out of the bosom of my exercise top, where Forces of Antagonism we’re rising within me and making me break out in a cold sweat. As a writer I could learn from this, proof that everything does happen for a reason, like Marilyn said:

“sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.”  ~ Marilyn Monroe

I dialed the iPod to Black Violin’s Dirty Orchestra for some more bipolar-schizophrenic stuff. Teacher had moved on to that little green ball that no one seems to have any idea what to do with.

I was done.

I faked a second run to my backpack. This time to get my cell phone that—by some miracle—l knew was fake ringing with an emergency at home. I put the phone to my ear and trotted out the door.

Once outside I made a beeline for the bulletin board to engrave the teacher’s name in my memory forever. That’s when I noticed the class was an hour and 20 freekin’ minutes long! I wondered why I took 10 whole minutes to get the hell out of there.

I found a Cybex treadmill, put it on a nice slow speed so it wouldn’t interfere as I dictated this blog post into my iPhone.

I thought, “What the hell was that? I’m much too nice and way too old to be that nice in situations that clearly don’t call for it.”

I’m not that crazy about treadmills, but I didn’t want to think anymore. Turns out something happens with your hips when you’re walking on the treadmill at a good clip, on an incline to Aretha Franklin’s Respect. And don’t even get me started on Billy Jean.  It was all worth it. I dictated pretty much this while blog and then worked up a good sweat.

When I went back in to put away my stash, Lucinda and I had a real chat.  I wasn’t alone! When she and others complained about the music, the teacher recommended headphones. Lucinda tried them so understood the schizophrenic side of things. Everybody finally gave up, but keeps coming to the class.

“You know, they use music like that to torture prisoners,” Lucinda said, “I stay in the class because I like what it does for my body, but at some point…I gotta start thinking about what it’s doing to my mind!”
“Amen to that sister!”

So next time you’re caught in the wrong exercise class, hold your head up high and walk with as much grace as you can to the exit. No need to disturb the class, just leave your equipment stash, you can come back at the end to put it away. Only problem there is that you will surely have to face the teacher, as I did. In which case: just come clean. She needs to know her music is killing brain cells. As my friend Diane says “it’s been lovely”… I’m gone.

Speaking of treadmills check this out:

OK Go is an American alternative rock band originally from Chicago, but now living in LA. Not my kind of music either but what they do on the treadmill is very cool, my daughter told me so (but that was ages ago, when she was in high school). You be the judge: