A lighthearted look at news, events, culture and everyday life in New York.
Sometimes it feels like living in New York makes things extra hard.
Of course, there are the obvious ways in which this is true: apartments are smaller and more expensive, food shopping requires an immense amount of patience and often great feats of strength, everything is crowded, people are busybusybusy, tempers run high, etc.
We all accept these challenges as part of our lives, and though they are occasionally so trying as to push us to the brink, they’re a fact of life and the cost of living in the greatest city in the world. But then there are the other pressures, the ones we place on ourselves:
We have to work harder and longer hours than anyone else. Stay out later. Know about all the bars and restaurants within a 15-mile radius. Read everything. Know everything. See every movie and play. Dress better, wear higher heels, act cooler, be skinnier. No, skinnier than that. Skinnier. Keep going.
It’s all I can personally do to make it to the gym three or four times (or two or one) times a week and try to resist the urge to eat some combination of cheese and bread for every meal. Mostly, this works for me. I’m not a size 2 anymore, but I’m not a size 16, and so far all my vitals are good. I detest the beach, but I haven’t graduated to muu-muu prison just yet. I’ve developed a rather healthy (I mean staunch) attitude that life is short, and I’m far too well-rounded and well-adjusted to worry about being the skinniest person in the room. This is alternated with crying fits in dressing rooms after which I adopt a brief yet intensely unsustainable diet which drives me to the edge of insanity and back into the comfort of my aforementioned self-congratulatory fitness philosophy. And so it goes.
But this weekend, as I settled in for a nice, lazy Sunday of lazily reading the newspaper and sitting and engaging in other lazy-friendly activities, I found myself rudely disrupted by an article in the New York Times about women who basically spend all of their free time and money exercising all over the darn city. It was enough to make me puke from secondhand overexertion as well as general feelings of disgust. And to think, I was spasming with pride for having attended at a real, live Upper West Side yoga studio last week in addition to going to the gym! Suddenly, my shocking and awe-inspiring accomplishment had been unfairly diminished.
Here’s the apparent trend: pay an extreme premium to belong to two or more boutique fitness studios which specialize in one type of exercise, like spinning, yoga, bootcamp, pilates, boxing, even pole dancing. Then bounce from class to class on a regular basis, hopscotching all over the city to get the most intense workout money can buy. Allegedly, most of the so-called “double dippers” interviewed for the article have regular full time jobs. Which makes the whole thing one thousand times more nauseating, because that means I can’t say, “Pssht. Well, I could exercise all day long if I had nothing to do all day, too. Harumph harumph graaar!” But either these women are superhuman, or they don’t really work full time behind a desk from which they cannot escape, or they’re just really, really terrible at their jobs. And regardless, they’re making the rest of us look bad.
Anywhere else, they’d be regarded as nutty. Here (and in LA, our sister city in insanity), they’re heroes. I just can’t keep up. The whole business put a bad taste in my mouth and ruined my appetite. Strictly figuratively speaking, of course. Actually, it brought to mind my own week’s workouts, and by the time I’d finished thinking about the phrase “double dip” and patting myself on the back for having done enough, if not as much as these women, I’d talked myself into a cookie.
And it was good.
Dear Readers: While I am rarely at a loss for words, I’m always grateful for column ideas. Please feel free to e-mail me your suggestions.
Nina Pajak is a writer and publishing professional living with her husband on the Upper West Side.
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