Jules is listening to mix tapes and thinking about . . .
Feeling the Burn
Aerobics were a big part of my 1980’s experience. My parents, like so many
others in the 80’s, caught fitness fever. They were enthusiastic charter
members of The Prime Health and Racquet Club near our home. In 1986, I
got my first job there at the tender age of thirteen. Mom and Dad were
friends with the owners, so I had an in. I worked in the juice bar.
Prime is now closed, but back in its day, it was all the rage in
our rural county. One
had sleek, straight blond hair down to her waist. Joanna was a huge fan
of the color purple. EVERYTHING was purple: the interior walls, the
company stationery, the cabinetry, the carpets, the railings, and every
single article of Joanna’s clothing and accessories. It was awesome, in
that 1980’s deep purple saturation kind of way.
My mom was quite the aerobics aficionado. She did the high impact
classes, an hour and twenty minutes of intense workouts, and followed
them up with weight training. I remember they did the fat measurements
at the club with calipers and her fat percentage was ridiculously low,
like, 6% or something. She was all into it.
We shared her aerobics ensembles, and I won’t give too much thought to
sharing tight Lycra ensembles with my mother (la la la la la...).
They were fuschia and black and royal blue, with little shiny panties
that went over the tights. Bunchy matching socks and Reeboks, poodle
permed hair and scrunchies, and sweating to Cheeseburger in Paradise
and Electric Avenue and Mony Mony. We grapevined to
the left and right, we deep squatted, and we crunched those abs, baby!
oh, the thrill when Step Aerobics came to the club! We side stepped, we
kicked, we lunged on those gray, pink, and purple plastic steps!p align="left" class="content">
Mom and I both indulged in the tanning beds. That is, we over-indulged.
I look back on the pictures from those days and see my burnished skin,
buttered up with Body Drench lotions and tanning products (for a
healthy, fast tan!) and groan at the sun-damage in the making. I baked
in those clamshell Wolff tanning beds every night after work for half an
hour, then upped my tan with Estee Lauder self-tanner. The bronzer the
Dad, of course, didn’t go for the
aerobics classes. With the exception of just a few daring souls, these
were the province of women exclusively. He did get into racquetball and
wall ball, though, with the men at the club.
Even then, the group hot tub grossed me
out (I still can’t get into hot tubs with a bunch of people, unless
alcohol and/or a beach resort is involved) and I was way too insecure to
get in the steam room. Some of the women went in naked! But that was
part of the 1980’s fitness culture, too, of course. Work it, tan it,
steam it, flaunt it.
I mixed up the
smoothies and Milk and Egg protein shakes, pushed Tiger’s Milk bars and
vitamins, and sold papaya juice by the glass. It was a great job. The
big television kept blaring 80’s videos on VH-1 in my purple juice bar
cave while I served up the good stuff.
skin was elated when I stopped working at The Prime, although I do still
miss it sometimes. The pounding music, the laughter, the sweat, the
Lycra. I saw Joanna a year or two ago, by the way, and she was still fit
and slim and energetic.
And still wearing
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