I have a new respect for fitness models. You know, the girls in your fave ab-mags like Women’s Health or Shape that manage to do a one-fingered plank or even something gynecologically humiliating and still manage to suck it in and smile? The ones whose captions say things like “Mara, 24, is a Pilates and aerial dance instructor and stays in shape by doing boot camp 8 days a week in a weighted vest. Her motto is: I strive for balance in my life.”
Well last week I got to be one of those girls when Turbo Jennie asked me and two others from her TurboKick class to pose for some promo materials (that I believe are actually going to be embedded in stone on our Y’s legacy wall. I’ve achieved immortality at 30 – now what do I do for the rest of my life??). Yep, that’s me up there on the left-hand side preparing to kick somebody’s head off and trying not to crush the life out of wee Turbo Jennie when I fell over. Which I did after nearly every shot.
Lesson Number 1: Holding poses is hard. It’s hard enough doing a proper roundhouse kick. It’s ridiculous when the photographer – a wonderfully talented and nice man everyone referred to as “Buddha” for reasons I never could figure out – yells out, “Great! Now can you just hold that?” My left butt cheek is now one size bigger than my right. I’m going to have do one-legged squats for a week to even out the difference. Not to mention that to get that nice “sweaty” sheen, the photog kept spritzing us down with glycerin water which while it had a pleasant rosy smell was apparently made out of mosquito pheremones.
“Drop you arm. No, the other arm. Not your leg, just your arm. Look the other way. Chin down. Stop wobbling. Look fierce. No, not constipated. Fierce. Never mind, just look away. No giggling!” By this point I had contorted myself into something that didn’t resemble any kick or punch and was possibly making the face that people do when they see Michael Jackson in person. Miss Tyra would not be proud.
Lesson Number 2: Taking direction is hard. The photographer and Turbo Jennie had come up with a fabulous idea that would look both feminine and strong. The problem was in translating it to me. I daresay the other two models managed to look as fierce as if they wrestled tigers in their spare time without batting an eyelash. But me – I’m self conscious even when no one is sticking a camera in my face. Let’s just say they took way more pictures of me and it isn’t because I’m just so preeeeettty. But the photographer’s brilliance prevailed and he managed to get a few shots that I’m actually rather proud of.
Lesson Number 3: Women are amazing. I got over my insecurity pretty quickly when I got to watch all the other girls posing. I was blown away by how beautiful and tough we can be. We were strong and tender. Agile and comforting. Trusting but not defenseless. All at the same time. Not that doing dancer pose against the sunset wasn’t awesome – it was fantastically unreal – but the best part of the evening was sitting around talking with Turbo Jennie and the other girls after the shoot. Nothing fancy. Just girl talk. And it was amazing.