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NEW YORK—There comes a time, during a behind-a-desk internship in New York, when you realize that your only weekday exercise is the hurried walk back and forth from your desk to the shredder in the room next door. When this time comes, you’ll probably think it a good idea to sign up for an outdoor exercise class at the only time you can fit into your schedule. And this time, as it were, is 5:30 a.m.
In theory, the class seemed like a great way to engage in something outside of the confines of an office building. Besides, completing an early-morning workout with a scenic sunrise as a backdrop would appear an idyllic beginning to the day. But when the aroma of freshly baked bread from the local bakery that I know to be miles away permeates the air and disrupts my concentration during the fifth round of push-ups, the deceptively simple class quickly becomes more torturous than energizing.
After the first day, it was impossible to separate workout from work. Using stairs required a special strategy to ensure that the least possible amount of pressure was applied on sore, throbbing legs. Laughing, coughing, and every minor pivot of the torso was inconceivable without stabbing pains on both sides, and even minor tasks required careful planning so as not to overexert already aching muscles.
“This isn’t a spectator sport,” said the instructor in response to the class’ reluctance to push themselves well past their comfort zones and dive wholeheartedly into each new exercise. At the time, the statement felt more like a cutting remark than an impetus to action. Three days later, however, my muscle soreness dwindled from an all-consuming presence to a dull ache, and the instructor’s comment served more to remind me of the fact that I had paid for the class, and that in that hour there’s really nothing else to do but stick it out.
Galila M. Gray ’14 is an arts writer in Leverett House.
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