Week 4


Words cannot explain what we did today, nor what I am feeling. The injury list today includes a ripped ab wall, gravel rash down one side of my leg, bruised knee, a crick in my neck, and bruised palm of my hand. I finished the class with dirt from elbow to arsehole. I can say goodbye to whatever t-shirt I was wearing as it's covered in mud, dirt, gravel and my good friend goose shit. I may as well wear disposable t-shirts because the crap is never coming out of my clothes after this.

To start, only me Abby and two others turned up to class. I'm not sure if the rest of the class are still in pain from Friday's min-test or if they saw the impending rain and decided to snuggle down further into their bed covers. Whatever the reason, they missed a day from hell. Today made the previous weeks look like a Sunday School picnic.

The only way I can describe today was commando-style training. Firstly we start with full pull-ups. Gone are the girly flexed arm hangs. No matter if you're a man or a woman, you're pulling up to that bar. I couldn't even get halfway, then a felt Charla's hands on my back, pushing up the final few inches. Next thing I know, we move to a new patch of grass (with even fresher goose plop) to learn a new agility exercise. We line up in a row and when she yells "Front" we drop to our stomachs, flat on the ground. When she yells "Back" we flip around on our backs, and when she yells "Up" we're back in the starting position. Sounds simple enough but believe me it's not. She was screaming out "BACK, FRONT, UP, FRONT, UP, BACK, FRONT, BACK...." like the world was about to come to an end. And just to spice things up, she'd yell out a number when we were on our fronts and we'd have to pop out a few million push ups, which was usually followed by "UP" or "BACK" and then we'd spin around at top speed and start all over again. It was absolutely grueling. Added onto that was "RUSH" where we have to sprint for three to five seconds, then drop to our fronts and do high speed push ups until she yells out the next command. Let me tell you, this exercise was a killer and was where I sustained all the injuries.

Now, I do have a confession to make. And an embarrassing one at that. It was during this exercise that I realized that my butt must be the size of a small African nation, because as I'm doing these high-speed, extra fast jumping jacks, my butt cheeks are slamming together completely out of sync with the rest of my body. There must be so much lard back there that it takes a while for it to catch up with the rhythm of the exercise. Seriously folks, this is a bad thing. You trying jumping up and down and listen to your arse slap together. Really unpleasant. I wouldn't mind so much if it were at the very least in time with the rest of my body but it's not. I've got stuff hanging around there having an aerobics session of its own. So now my goal for this course is two-fold:

1) I want to look good. Naked.
2) No more arse cheeks slapping together when I jump up and down

It begs the question, how come I have never noticed this before?

Hoping it was over, the next exercise was running on the spot until she yelled out a number. As soon as she yelled it out, we would immediately to X number of side straddle hops, push-ups, then crunches, all at high speed. When you're done, you yell "Hoo-yah" then jump straight back up to running on the spot. This friggin' sucked. By this stage, we are all exhausted. My hair had all come undone and was flapping about in my face, I smell like goose excrement, I'm hot and sweaty and I have dirt in my eyes. I soon discovered the worse number she could yell out was 'one'. That made the transitions really fast. At least with a number like five, you've got a bit of time to make the change from one exercise to the next. And just to make it interesting, she started getting in our faces, screaming like a banshee and really picking on Abby. Poor Abby seemed disconnected from her limbs. Probably for the first time in her life, her height has worked against her. I'm sure Abby tells the story best in her journal but there were some really good Charla comments and I loved seeing Abby, legs and arms akimbo. Put it this way, at the end of the session Abby said to me, "I'd rather do a 10-mile run that do that again."

I have this horrible, horrible feeling that Charla has really stepped-up the pace and we are going to see a new side of her that we've never seen before. We are going to ache, hurt and be real dirty over the next few weeks. Here I was thinking we're halfway through... that's it's all downhill from here. Never have I been more wrong. For the first time in three weeks, today I thought "Why am I doing this?" Comparatively, the mounds of fruit and cardboard-tasting bread that I'm eating is nothing on this morning's exercise.

Will spend tonight icing my abs and putting Betadine on my scrapes and cuts. This week could be the week of whining and feeling sorry for myself.

I feel like I am in Erebus. For those of you who are a little rusty on your Greek mythology, Erebus is the infernal region below the earth. It is part of Hades where the dead have to pass shortly after they have died. That's where I am. I'm hanging out with the other FitBoot recruits in Erebus, thinking how life here is nicer than it is top-side where Charla the Crusher is running boot camp.

Nobody could put it as eloquently as Abby when she said to me yesterday (and again this morning), "I feel like I've been in a car accident." She is right. The injury list has grown longer so Abby and I are right now pricing having a masseuse come into the office.

Just as I suspected, today was a running day. I was so anxious that I hardly slept at all last night, waking up three or four times to take a slash and worry about the run. And wouldn't you know it, the weather in Boston this morning is unbearable. Humidity at about 100% with the air so thick you can hardly breathe.

As the group gathered, several of those absent from yesterday's fun and games admitted they were scared out of their wits because Charla had emailed them asking why they were MIA. Out of fear, they turned up today, knowing that the longer you stay away, the worse it gets. Today's warm up before the run consisted of sit-up drills. Now, if you've been following these pages, you'll remember that I bollocksed up my abs during the first few weeks - a combination of Sergeant Slaughter's sit-up regime and me going arse over tea-kettle off my horse. Thankfully, over the past three weeks, my delicate abs have recovered. However, what I failed to mention in yesterday's diary is that while we were doing those mad bloody commando drills, I gave a yelp of pain in the middle of it. Charla bellows, "Barclay, are we injured." My response was in the negative, "I just slipped" and I continued with the class.

But last night, I spent the evening with a bad of frozen peas on my abs, followed by an ice-pack shoved down my knickers as I drove to Abby's this morning. As soon as we got there, she had us partnered up and down on our backs ready to do sit-ups. Abby lets out a stage whisper, "Sharon, don't do it, don't do it. You can't do it, tell her you're hurt," as she shakes her head is disapproval. So I lie there on the grass (let's be specific now - her blades of grass). Charla says go and I just lie there. In her usual sarcastic tone, the Crusher says, "Barclay, are you injured?" This time I say, "Well, yes." Her response: "I guess we did that yesterday when you screamed in pain. I asked you if you were injured, you said you were not. It's the LYING I can't stand." So even at the gates of Erebus, lying on the grass (ahem, her grass) hoping for this to end, I am still getting my arse kicked.

On to the run. I have already mentioned to the group several times that I would rather stick pins in my eyes than do this run. In fact, I probably mention it every seven seconds or so. I think people have started to ignore me. I am not yet whining, but I know today is a 2.5 mile run, I'm hurt, I'm tired and I really don't want to do this. I am even wearing my lucky knickers (the ones with the smiley faces) to cheer me up. My theory is that when I am feeling like I am going to die, I will think about my knickers and it will make me smile. I hope other people think of my knickers and it makes them smile too.

But back to the run. We are on to those bloody songs again, but for once I am thankful. They take your mind off the fact that you are wheezing and probably close to a stroke. All I can think about is that if I need mouth-to-mouth, I don't want anyone from the spaz-pack coming near me. In fact, I'm pretty certain that if I did need mouth-to-mouth, Charla would just keep running. There I would be, kibbying on the ground, and she would lead the other recruits around me turning back only to say: "Get your back off my grass and see you back at camp. Hoo-yah!"

During the run, some smart arse behind me sings: "This is what we came for... this is what we LOVE" which is part of one of those daft songs. While running, I turn around and belt him as hard as I can without falling over or taking out the person (Swedish Fish woman) in front of me. Then I say: "I'm going to smack your goddamn arse so hard when I get back. Now SHUT-UP!"

I'm not sure if Charla laughed or choked. Soon - but not soon enough for me - we were heading back home. She's still singing those bloody songs and by now I can only respond every second line because my lungs are going to explode. I need all the air I can get just to keep me going. At one point, she sings something about 'heading back'. I start replacing her lines with my own, singing "and then I'm going to yak." As yet, I can't tell if she noticed, but I'm sure I will find out tomorrow when I'm front and center doing push-ups or something else as punishment. I still have it in mind to write my own songs and sing it when she least expects it. I'm going to have verses about Swedish Fish, pizza-eating-bastards and the spaz-pack. It will be brilliant.

However, I have managed to remember another verse:

Sittin' on a mountain top, banging on a drum,
Played my drums 'til the MPs come,
MP, MP, don't arrest me
Arrest that man behind the tree
He drank whiskey, he drank wine
I'm just doing double time

Over the last 400 meters, Charla says she wants us to pick up the pace. Fat bloody chance. I can barely keep standing. I snort in disgust when she mentions it. It must have been pretty loud because she turned around and glared at me. I said: "Was that my outside voice?" Charla replies: "Yes Barclay, that was a little voice cloud with the straight lines, not the cloud with the bubbles. Get moving!" So I keep running, swearing that I will kill somebody, anybody when I get to the end. Instead, when we cross the finish line I wander over to a clump of trees and dry heave. I've even forgotten to beat the shit out of that guy who was being a smart-arse.

Abby and I, side by side in pain
Currently, Abby and I are scouring the Yellow Pages for a masseuse that will come to the office and relieve some of our pain. Abby is slouched in her chair with her head in her hands. Not only will I visit my best friend Ibuprofen today, but I am going to make a new friend - Vitamin Ice.

Abby and I have a new motto for the remaining three weeks of the course: "Pain is only temporary, pride is forever." It sounds much cooler than "Hoo-yah!"

A big step forward today. I DID MY FIRST PULL-UP!! After my pathetic attempt on Monday where I barely got halfway, I was surprised as hell today when I realized the bar was just inches above me, then at eye-level, then my chin is above it. Hoo-yah! Thinking that would do it for me, Carla says, "Give me another one, Barclay." That's where I fell short. I just didn't have the ability nor the strength to do a second one. But I have achieved my goal which was to be able to do one pull-up by the end of the course. Now the next goal is to do two. For all of you guys who think this is wussy, let me assure you that a pull-up is one of the hardest exercises a woman can do.

Although I look in pain, this is a real pull-up in progress

A new exercise was introduced today, to work yet again on our agility. Before she even started, Charla said: "Barclay, you're going to hate this one. It's leg-work." She was right. We lined up in a row and did this side-by-side shuffling movement, first left, then right. She'd yell, "Shuffle left - STOP - shuffle right" and so on and so forth. Added to that was "Forward" (simply running forward) and "Backward", then "Grapevine" which is moving sideways, crossing your legs as you go, first behind then in front of the other foot. It kind of looks like a move that the Village People may have invented. Anyway, for those of us who are slow on the transitions or have legs like salami, this was hard. Charla yells the commands at top speed: "Shuffle right - back - stop - grapevine left - forward - shuffle right - grapevine left..." You get the picture. Abby was loving it. I was panting like a dog by the end of it, my thighs burning.

A new exercise was introduced today, to work yet again on our agility. Before she even started, Charla said: "Barclay, you're going to hate this one. It's leg-work." She was right. We lined up in a row and did this side-by-side shuffling movement, first left, then right. She'd yell, "Shuffle left - STOP - shuffle right" and so on and so forth. Added to that was "Forward" (simply running forward) and "Backward", then "Grapevine" which is moving sideways, crossing your legs as you go, first behind then in front of the other foot. It kind of looks like a move that the Village People may have invented. Anyway, for those of us who are slow on the transitions or have legs like salami, this was hard. Charla yells the commands at top speed: "Shuffle right - back - stop - grapevine left - forward - shuffle right - grapevine left..." You get the picture. Abby was loving it. I was panting like a dog by the end of it, my thighs burning.


Doing bench dips. Next to me is Swedish Fish woman

The Body - For the record, this man is not in our class. However, every morning he graces us with an outstanding view of his body. At 6.30am he turns up shirtless, then proceeds to wave his arms about and do a couple of stretches. Presumably he is trying to get into shape. He is a staple of our morning viewing. I'm not sure if he motivates us or if he is the reason for my nausea when I run.

The elation from one pull-up yesterday has gone, now that I realize I completely suck. Today was the dreaded running day. Just my luck, the spaz-pack did not show up for class so we only had the marathon runners (those who sprint off ahead doing 6-7 minute miles) and the laggards which today only consisted of me and the disabled woman. If only the spaz-pack were behind me, like they usually are, I wouldn't have felt so bad. But watching the others speed off into the distance in front of me was particularly depressing. After two and a half miles, I came in at a miserable 9:41 minutes/mile. A crippled lady with a walker could have made it faster than me. In fact, if I were missing a limb I probably would have made it back faster. I am at loss to explain how I can dip from 9:10/mile - which in itself is pretty pathetic - to an even slower time. It seems so incredibly wrong. Even the fat bastard pizza-eating guy was ahead of me. I swear to God, I could see his arse and stomach wobbling as he passed me. You bastard. You utter, utter bastard. I bet you ate at Wendy's last night, you sodding great lump of lard. I am eating this bird seed crap, munching on bread which tastes like cardboard and foregoing the pleasures of my beloved Cool Whip and martinis (Bombay Sapphire, straight up, three olives, stirred not shaken). And all for what?

Charla's little chat yesterday revolved around "the wall" and how me, Abby and two others would be hitting it around now. She is right. When she asked how I was feeling, my response was: "Like dog shit". Abby's was: "Like I've been in a car accident." Whatever the reason, I want this wall out of here. We only have 11 days to go and I feel like there is so much more to do. I expect tomorrow's performance to be dismal, so I'm hoping I can rest over the weekend and come back stronger and in a much more pleasant mood on Monday.

Today I have a sign on my office door that says: "Beware. I bite." That says everything.

Day 19 -
Even though I have posted today's events, let me share with you the shenanigans of what transpired today.

Firstly, my poor performance on the run - and subsequent chatting to from Charla about my mood and attitude - must have seeped into the office. Admittedly, I was kind of grumpy. I made a sign on my door that said "Beware. I bite." I thought it were only fair to warn my colleagues of impending danger, should they try to speak to me. As a result, my lovely, kind and ever-benevolent boss, Dan Kaferle, sent the following email to the office.

From: Dan Kaferle
To: Boston Office
Subject: Beware


After the triumph of the one pull-up yesterday, Sharon did lousy this morning on her fitness run at Bootfit. As a result, she is in a very, very foul mood and is lashing out at everyone (SVP.GM included, accusing him in a politically incorrect way of wearing a "pink" polo shirt -it is salmon- not that there is anything wrong with wearing a pink polo shirt.) because of her unhappiness with herself. Contrasting this with yesterday's pull-up elation, one wonders if one of the by-products of Bootfit is making some participants bi-polar. Anyway, go near her only at your own peril and, if she snaps at you, please understand it has everything to do with her personal failure and low self-esteem, and little to do with you as a person. I am very, very pleased that Abby, Erica and Mandy are approaching Bootfit in the way it was concieved - a wonderful opportunity to promote and increase healthy living - both physically and emotionally.

Good luck,

Dan Kaferle
Blanc & Otus

At the time, Dan was completely unaware that my attitude and general whining had been discussed at the end of class. As a result, I thought it only prudent to forward it to Charla, with the following note:

Now you know why I'm so cranky. This is the shit I have to put up with.

See you tomorrow. Bright and cheery.

Her response is exactly what I expected. So far, so good...

Hey, Recruit
Actually, it sounds a bit like a "chicken and egg" problem. The salt-in-the-wound email seems likely to elicit further grumpiness, yet the email would not have been produced absent a priori grumpiness. Hmmm… perhaps clearing the mind by pondering that question will yield a calmer, more centered, hard charging Recruit (can you help Mr. Kaferle with the correct title of the program? uh, and do it calmly and quietly, Barclay)

Charge on, Recruit, you're going to show me nothing but power and speed.
Count on it.


Now let me point out here, that Charla mentioned "Calmly and quietly" as she had already called me a Pit Bull for yelling at Abby for drinking the sinful Diet Cokes. Not to mention the attack I made on the poor woman who was on the receiving end of the bullet-like football throw and the street mugging-style football tackle.

This is where I made my mistake. I forwarded her response to my kind and caring boss. Can you imagine how mortified I was feeling at this point. His email to her:

Ms. Charla:

As the morale officer (not morals)for Blanc and Otus, I am acutely aware of the daily impact you have on members of my staff who are in bootfit. What I have to endure:

a) Nearly daily grumpiness by Ms. Barclay and continual whining about: goose poop, ripped ab muscles, pizza eating yahoos. As she often says, "to fail is to be human everywhere but Charla's world." To suffer in silence is unknown to her.

b) Tears on body fat measurement day.

c) A refrigerator full of fruits and vegetables. My lunch gets jammed in the back.

d) A line for the bathroom key as your demands for "hydration" send my staff for frequent breaks.

As for the name of your program and the note to the staff and Ms. Barclay, I meant no disrespect and, of course, know that it is FitBoot. However, in dealing with Ms. Barclay I often use the following strategy:

"If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate her." - Sun Tzu - Art of War.


If it is not entirely apparent by now, you should notice that as each email passes between these two, my push-up count as punishment, is increasing. I do not want these two collaborating. I have enough problems in my life.

Before too long, Charla has responded.

Hi, Dan

I had no idea the torture to which Barclay is subjecting her supportive and attentive colleagues. One who reads and understands Sun Tzu should definitely NOT have to wait in line for the bathroom key and then unjam his lunch from the back of the fridge (naturally, I assume your lunch bag also contains a nice serving of fruits and veggies - make sure they don't get crushed)

Okay, so look, now that I see how deeply engrained FitBoot training and habit improvements are throughout the work day, it seems to me you should be able to correct any "problem behavior" and acting out episodes by simply invoking the same structure. Keep in mind that the phrase, "drop and give me ____" just takes too long to say, Dan, so I give you some samples

Barclay: "What's with the pink shirt, Dan?"
Dan: "Push"

Barclay: "Ooh, I ripped my ab wall - again - falling down all over the place, and there's goose poop on my shirt even though I tried to kick it all into another Recruit's area"
Dan: "Push"

Barclay: "I'm actually eating good food, improving my physical performance, and learning to do things I was pretty sure I would never be able to do before - damn the progress, now get out of my way!"
Dan: "Push"

Good luck, Dan, (oh, and I can promise you that Recruit attitudes will change with all speed - I'm thinking by tomorrow morning)

(Hoo-yahh, Barclay)

Have a great day, Dan


Now do you see the problem I have. I am basically fucked.

Until tomorrow.

Following yesterday's email antics between Charla and my boss, Dan Kaferle, I had nothing but dread for today. I quickly briefed the rest of the troops so they would know what we (or I) were in for. Just as I suspected, as soon as we were lined up, we had a little motivational speech where new rules were outlined for the benefit of me. Charla mentioned that she had received complaints from my office about my moods and attitude so a new structure has been put into place. It goes something like this:

1.I am now the leader of the group, meaning that I am responsible for making sure everyone is there, lined up correctly and motivated. If not, I push. (Charla is using the old "give the loud-mouth responsibility" trick)

2.When we return from our water breaks, I must be the first one back in line. If not, I push.

3.I am responsible for motivation. If the team does not yell out "Hoo-yah" enthusiastically enough, I push.

4.If I swear, the team pushes.

5.If I am lippy with Charla, the team pushes.

6.If I whine, I push.

7.If there are any further reports from the office that I am in anything less than a stellar mood, I push.

8.If the team does not perform well, I push.

9.If we go out on a run and the team comes back without me, I push.

10.If for any reason Charla feels so inclined to make me push, I push.

With all that said, Charla made me drop to the deck and start doing push-ups. It was only after that did the class start. Once again, no more girly arm hangs, but full pull-ups. I've worked out that you can kind of cheat on the first one if you jump up to the bar. The momentum helps you make it to the top. It's the second one that's a killer. Now, given I'd done one earlier this week, I was sure getting two pull-ups would be brilliant and then I could take a rest. But noooooooo. Charla had other surprises for me. After squeezing out the second (which seemed immeasurably harder than the first) she says, "Give me another." I can only get half-way, so her hand is on my back pushing me the last few inches. Again, I think I'm done when I hear, "Give me another." Really, being lippy has not paid off at all. After four, I drop down exhausted. I would like to say that I did all four on my own, but Charla's helpful and reassuring hand was on my back the last two.

The other blow from today was finding out that I do push-ups completely incorrectly. So I had a little one-on-one instruction from Charla while the other members of the class were getting a drink of water. Now push-ups really hurt. I'm so glad I now know the correct technique, as I'll need it for all the push-ups I'm going to have to do for swearing, being a miserable sod and for running slowly.

On to the next task. Naturally, it wouldn't be a day in Boot Camp without some kind of disaster, masterminded by me. We break up into to teams, one of which I am the captain. We're doing team agility exercises again. Blech! The first is a relay. We have to run BACKWARDS to a line, touch the ground, then sprint back to the start and tag the next person. The first three people take off and we are doing fine. However it is on the last return journey that things start to go haywire. The last runner on the other team is beating our gal. In true teamwork spirit, I race to the opposing team on the other side of the field, right in the line of the runner... and tackle him. People are shocked. I can hear Charla murmuring something in the background. This guy is 6'1" so I can't hold him for long, but it's enough to slow him down so our girl can win. But just as she's meters from the finish line, she slips. He leg gives way and she skids on the dirt. We lose. Charla's comment: "Divine retribution!" For the privilege of losing, we do 20 push-ups. Unfortunately, our team mate has been injured, skin missing from her buttock and all up her leg... possibly a torn muscle or two. She is out of the game. Now one of us has to run twice. And guess what, that would be me.

Next challenge - sniper avoidance. As the captain, I have to assign everyone numbers. Then one at a time we have to "rush" which is sprinting for three to five seconds, then drop to the ground. You'll remember that in our last "rush" session, I came home all scraped up on my elbows, knees, palms and legs, not to mention that ab muscle chucking a fit. The rule is that only one person can rush at a time (so that nobody gets shot), in essence a leap-frogging maneuver. But as captain, I have to make sure that I call out the right numbers so we can all move and get to the end as quickly as possible. We start the exercise and we're doing well until the end where we have to sprint back. I forget to call out Abby's number and I leave her behind. We lose again. More push ups. No wonder Abby is treating me like I'm radioactive. First, yesterday's fiasco and generally being associated with me could easily get Charla's attention which will mean push-ups. Then I throw her under the bus with the Diet Coke comment two days ago. And lastly, I leave her behind in the team relay. I don't blame her for taking a day off from work today.

The last exercise, I am determined to win. This time, we get it together. I don't forget any numbers and I don't lose any soldiers. We make it back first, with me yelling out motivational comments like: "Move your arse, you idiots!" and "Could we run any slower, you dumbos!" I think it is fairly evident a career in the military is not in my future.

The swelling in my abs has reduced and has been replaced by yellow bruises. But I am not in the complete agony I was earlier in the week. Perhaps I'm climbing the wall. We start week five on Monday. Hoo-yah!