Week 4


Cleary some of our teammates have ESP or could somehow feel Charla's intimidating vibe, as only half of our class was present today. I knew based on Charla's speech on Friday that today would tough, but I had no idea what she had in store for us. She gave a hint when one recruit showed up in brand new tennis shoes. Charla said - "Oh, you're going to love today's exercises." I knew we were headed for a new level of intimacy with the muddy patch of grass behind us.

The first sign that things have changed - the flexed arm hangs are gone. We've graduated to full pull ups. Well, that's technically the idea but I couldn't move an inch without Charla pushing me up over the bar. When Charla grabbed my hips all I could think was - "Aahhh, she's feeling my love handles. She's probably never made impact with such a soft body."

During the first few weeks our reps were always in sets of 10. We're now up to 12 but my mind and body have yet to make the adjustment. I stooped at 10 during jumping jacks and heard "Dougherty, what are you doing over there?" Then during pushups I again stopped at 10 - "Dougherty that's two strikes, one more and you're out." Two reprimands by only 7:10 - I seem to be turning into Sharon.

We then followed orders and lined up on the grass and were given some commando exercises to complete. I have never been more physically challenged in all of my life. When Charla shouted "front", we had to land face down on the ground in a staring pushup position. Then she yelled "back" and we had to do the start of a pushup, swing our legs back through the middle and land on our backs. Then "up" and we had to be back up on our feet. Then Charla started shouting in random order - "Up, back, front, back, up, back, up, front". During this wacky routine I am about five paces behind everyone else. Charla yells "rest" to the group and while we're face down in the mud she bends down to talk to me. "Dougherty, I know you're tall, but you've got to get control over your limbs. We are going to make you faster, and by we, I mean you."

We're then back up on our feet to do more of the "back, up, front, back" nonsense again, but she added another command - "rush". "Rush" is our order to run for five seconds and then drop down to our stomachs and do push-ups until she yells stop. As I'm sprinting towards her (duck-footed I am sure), she yells stop and I start to drop but see a huge pile of goose droppings in front of me. I then side step and drop to the ground. Of course, Charla watched the entire thing and shouted out - "Dougherty, what are you doing over there? Looking for the perfect spot?" I'm tempted to tell her that today's class is doing a number on my fresh manicure, but decide otherwise.

The final exercise was a killer. We started by running in place and then Charla would shout a number. "Three". Then we would do three jumping jacks, three pushups and three situps as fast as we could, then yell out "Hoo-Yah" and be back running in place. I quickly realized that any number higher than five was a blessing, because my limbs had a little more time to react. When she shouted "One", I looked like a marionette gone crazy - limbs that appeared to be attached to strings, being pulled every which way.

As we were headed for the bridge after class, Charla sauntered up to me and said - "Dougherty, we're going to get your body under control. Height has nothing to do with it - we WILL get you more agile." I have a feeling I am now her little project for the rest of the class - turning the tall clumsy girl into a limber machine. May the force be with you Charla.

Yesterday's antics have left me severely inoperative. I am struggling to get comfortable at my desk today. When I cross my legs, my leg muscles start to cramp. When I turn around to answer the phone, my neck twitches. When I type, my forearms elicit a dull, aching pain.

Luckily the only contact we made with the ground today was during a torturous situp routine. We did a 2:00, 1:30, 1:00 and 30 second drill of full situps. And surprisingly, no snide remarks from Charla about my arm spasms or red-faced grunting. My overall appearance during these drills must be improving. Hoo-Yah!

Then we received the orders: "Get in whatever state of dress or undress you need to be in to get on the road."

Sharon reacted to this command with - "Nooooo. I absolutely hate running. I'd rather stick needles in my eye." The rest of the group simply shrugged and got in their places. We lined up in two single-file lines and were off, with Charla leading the charge in her fatigues. The cadences were back today:

Saw an old lady walking down the street
With a back on her pack and jungle boots on her feet
Hey old lady where are you going to?
I'm going down to join FitBoot
Hey old lady haven't you been told?
FitBoot's only for the brave and bold
Youngster, youngster I'll be fine
I passed my test and I'm 99

Charla kept her motivational comments to herself today - probably realizing that the heat and humidity were doing more damage, emotionally and physically, than she ever could.

In preparation for Round Two of agility exercises tomorrow, Sharon and I researching a masseuse who could come to our office today for a therapeutic session.

Until tomorrow...

We seem to have lost a few recruits - there were only eight of us present today. I much prefer a full class as Charla's moments of honing in on my uncoordinated efforts are decreased just a bit.

We were back on the pullup bar today, attempting to do the real thing. My arms just aren't ready for this type of exertion. I gripped the bar above and jumped up a bit hoping that would help my chances of getting my chin up over the bar. No luck. No sooner did I leave the ground, then my feet were right back where they started. On my second try I managed to do nothing more than hang like a baboon at the zoo - dangling from the metal bar with my legs swinging back-and-forth. I glanced helplessly over my shoulder at Charla as if to say - "I'm not going anywhere until you get your hands on my back and push, hard." Only then was I able to complete one measly pullup.

Must get over the bar

Um, push please Charla

Then we were off to a combo of jumping jacks, bench dips and pushups. I do think that we're starting to sound more like a team - our counting was actually in sync today and we managed to do a few coordinated and rather impressive "Hoo-Yahs."

Then we were told to line up on the grass for Round Two of agility exercises. Thank goodness we did not do a repeat of Monday. Today's focus was on footwork - all my years of tennis and basketball practice finally paid off. We had to follow Charla's commands and do the following - run forward and backward, shuffle left and right and grapevine left and right. I'm sure the other runners and bikers along the river today found this sequence very entertaining. "Forward....shuffle right....shuffle right...backwards....grapevine right....grapevine left", left us in an S-shaped line, off balance and gasping for breath. At one point the transition from left to right landed me in an inverted split while the person next to me almost shuffled over awkwardly bent leg.

Jumping jack or flying angel??

We ended the class with a new abdominal exercise - the "plant." We started flat on our stomachs and then lifted up on our elbows and up on our toes, with our legs straight out behind us in a flat line. What looked like it should be a fairly relaxing pose (maybe even something you do to stretch), was extremely hard. We did three sets of these with crunches in between. During the last set I was shocked when some type of low moaning noise expelled from my mouth while trying to maintain the damn pose.

Charla ended the class with a quick assessment of how were are feeling overall. The answers ranged from - "I've never been sore for so many consecutive days in all of my life" to "Absolute sh#$" to "Like I've been in a car accident" to "Like hell." You can tell, that we're a pretty upbeat and positive group. Charla then said that for those who were in decent shape before starting the program, we are probably hitting "the wall." When I hear this term I think of only one thing: Four hours plus of running around the streets of D.C. to complete 26.2 miles. The "wall" that Charla was talking about was similar to the marathon lingo. Apparently some of our bodies have reached a point where it feels like we aren't making any more progress, or in my case, feel like we've regressed. Charla claims that we are simply adjusting to the physical stress of our workouts and after a few more days, we'll notice that we are feeling stronger and starting to do the exercises faster and more effectively. Let's hope she's right. We only have 12 more days to get it done.

Not everyday can be full of shenanigans, entertaining commentary and sloppy, uncoordinated exercises. Today was pretty ho-hum. We did our usual warm-up routine and then hit the road for a 2.5 mile run at our own place. Other than the overwhelming heat and humidity, dank smell of the stagnant river and burning sensation in my eyes from incessant sweat, it was a rather pleasant run. I tried to stay within eyesight of the female speed demon in our group, but no luck. Within the first half mile, she was off like a gazelle, making her way along the river at incredible speeds. Since that plan was shot to hell, my next focus was to not shrivel up from dehydration along the way.

After the run, we had a pow-wow in the grass while we stretched. Charla did a group quiz about how people are doing with her recommended nutrition tips. No one seemed overall enthused with their newly found eating regimens. Feedback ranged from - "I'm really bored with eating the same thing every day" to "Healthy food is really expensive" to "I still prefer bad sandwiches (bologna and roast beef) to healthy ones."

During this nutrition intervention, I was able to get Charla's thoughts on Diet Coke. For the past few weeks, I've had a Diet Coke with lunch every day. Since I don't drink coffee, I don't see anything wrong with having a soda with lunch. HOWEVER, Sharon thinks that I've been violating the Fitboot rules by consuming anything other than water (scary, since she doesn't even know about the beer and margaritas I enjoy.) And it never fails, that exactly when the Diet Coke can grazes my lips, Sharon comes strolling by and shrieks - "Abby......what are you doing?", as if I am face-to-face with a Ben & Jerry's ice cream sundae. But today we confirmed that I am able to continue my soda extravaganza. As long as I drink 8-10 glasses of water a day, Charla has given my mini-caffeine blitz her blessing. HA Sharon.