I was late, and stuck behind a driver who refused to initiate a turn by inching into the intersection. I was about to get out of my car, when I caught a glimpse of his face in the rear view mirror. Asian. That does it, I'll be here all day! I leaned on the horn so heavily the fucking steering wheel almost blew off.
Racial stereotyping. Guilty as charged. Asians cannot drive.
So, you cannot imagine how delighted I was to receive an invitation to experience a kettlebell class at Core Essentials in Dartmouth. Since I had no clue what a kettlebell was, I was delighted to hear kettlebells were weights, popular with the Red Army. Russians. Vodka swilling commies with no fashion sense. Count me in.
Now, thanks to Jackie Chan, I was miles from a head space that was "open to experiencing new things" and besides, anything with the word "core" in it was already intimidating. Thank Christ I had enough sense to take a friend I could toss to the lions.
Core is the new word for the area of the body located somewhere above your ass and below your boobs – although on many women, these two regions collide. Stomach, I believe the area was called before carbs became illegal. I confess, walking up the stairs to Core Essentials felt a bit unnerving. Like I was heading into an sobering intervention. Mine.
Before I rattle on, let me just describe to you my normal gym routine: Choosing a time I believe will be less crowded – and man free – I shower and shave, then apply eyeliner, mascara, and a touch of perfume. Upon arrival at the gym, I normally kill a bit of time in the change room, because I am already changed. Who wants to get naked in front of a bunch of sweaty, fit or fat strangers wresting their way out of a damp sports bra? I eventually head into the gym and over to the water fountain, where I bend over slowly to stretch out my lower back. Then I flip through a few of those free, healthy living magazines to warm up my lower arms. Next, I hop on the Stairmaster and immediately sink to the ground despite stepping as fast as I can while pushing buttons like a Vegas slot machine. I start laughing uncontrollably, pee my sweats and head back to the change room. Drying off my crotch with the hair dryer feels oddly soothing, so I linger a little. By this time my quads have tightened so I re-stretch over at the water fountain. Limber, I wander over to the weight machines with designated muscle target areas. I find the inner and outer thigh machine and get comfy. I get one leg in over to the left but the other foot thingie is a yard or so over to the right, so by the time I get my other leg where it's supposed to be I end up in a birthing position unable to move. Asking for help at the gym is not an option. Who really needs a 20-year old wearing Lulu fucking lemon speaking to you like you are a post-stroke patient in occupational therapy? Instead, I untangle myself from the thigh master and make a mental note to send hate mail to Suzanne Somers. I catch a glimpse of Oprah's bloated face on all 6 televisions, so I feel inspired. I head over to the treadmill and straddle the conveyor belt until I have it heading downhill at a brisk pace. I hop on and and attempt to strike up a conversation with the woman jogging next door. She is wearing a headset and appears to be in "the zone", so doesn't respond when I mention that despite being anorexic, she is packin' a fair amount of cellulite in the back of her mini van. I soon tire of reading the captions on Oprah, so I pull the heart attack rip cord and jump off before Lulu fucking lemon runs over with the difibulator. By then, I'd worked up a bit of an appetite and was bored as hell, so I pretend to take my pulse, grab a towel and head to the locker room. I throw the towel in the locker, toss a few clean ones into my bag, and get the hell out of there. A satisfying 20-minute workout.
Unlike most gyms, Core Essentials isn't packed with sweaty men born before 1963, looking at girls born after 1987. Mid-mornings are for personal training, so the coast was clear. The loft space is compact, with tons of natural light and a bakery around the corner. We were greeted by Laurissa Manning – a woman so fit you could bounce quarters off of her stomach, er, her core. Despite this, I liked her immediately.
After a quick chat, in which I told her I had tennis elbow and hated working out almost as much as I hated deadbeat dads and French people – we did some warming up on newfangled rowing machines that use water as resistance and made me want to pee. No nonsense, Laurissa then moved over to Russian army headquarters, picked up a kettlebell and started tossing it around like it was a hot bun from the oven.
The Long island Iced Tea of weights – kettlebells look innocent enough – until you pick one up. Before my mind could wander, Laurissa had us simultaneously squatting and swinging the 20-pound kettlebell back between our legs and up in the air like we were Maria fucking Sharapova.
What is it with Russians? They are either butt ugly (Ovechkin) or absolutely gorgeous (Anna Kornonthecobova). There are no in-between Russians. And there was no time to ponder this before we headed over to the sadomachochist department, where I proceeded to get tangled up in the ropes, and decided that Pilates and kinky sex weren't my thing. I really wanted to hop on the Real Ryder spinning bikes upstairs, but we were out of time. Besides, my legs were already wobbling out of control and I had to somehow get down the stairs.
The beauty of Core Essentials is Laurissa, her no-commitment policy, and an amazing website. You can go on there and sign up for a variety of spinning, kettlebell, and rowing classes and, if you sign in with a fake name like Nadia Comaneci they'll never know when you don't show up. They also have one-on-one training, boot camps, sport-specific training, a hot guy named Craig Guthrie, and sadomachochist Saturday nights.
We left there all high on endorphins, straight into the line-up at Two if by Sea bakery. If you haven't been there, the hip bakery is yet another reason for giving the shithole that is Dartmouth another chance. The tattooed youngsters that run the place certainly know how to crank out a fetching array of forbiddens. Sticking to my UWeight regime, I cooled down over a non-fat soya latte and salivated watching the skinny bitch at the next table pick at her almond crossiant like it was about to explode.
I almost snatched the croissant off her plate as I was leaving, but my arms were too tired from all that honking and rowing, and I think she was Swedish. Swedish people are naturally blonde, stupid, and likely suicidal from lack of sunlight.
Or maybe that's Norwegian. Never mind.
Core Essentials is at 50 Queen Street in Dartmouth. There's plenty of parking and reasons to go. Call Laurissa at 407.3338 or check out their website at www.coressentials.ca.
Two if by Sea is at 66 Ochterloney Street. www.twoifbyseabakeshop.com.