My gym recently created a pretty elaborate outdoor obstacle/adventure course. To be honest, I took one look at that thing and instantly flashed back to my days in high school gym class where the only units I excelled at were dancing and badminton. (Oh wait – I was also pretty good at darts, which at least helped me score some free beers in college.) But as far as the obstacle course went, I’d rather do a matching bikini spread with Anna Kournikova than humiliate myself on that thing. All I could imagine was getting stuck on the climbing wall while everyone else yelled at me to hurry up, just like Beth from Road Rules/Real World Challenge.
Flash forward a month as I am standing in a field in front of some logs, ready to begin the course. I can only blame temporary insanity, false confidence and/or a Xanax stupor for landing me there. My husband, who undoubtedly was one of those jocks I hated from gym class, is standing beside me, all pumped up on testosterone. So naturally my eyes are shooting darts into him.
And so we began.
After a short warm-up our instructor starts showing us the course. Many of the stations include extra burpees (which will be extra suckee.) The whole explanation gets pretty long, so I may or may not have zoned out and started watching the high school boys in the field next to us as they were doing some summer athlete camp.
Eventually we get paired up, and I notice that we have an odd number of people in the class. Of course I am left without a partner. Not even my own husband would run the course with me. Something about me not being able to keep up with him? At first I was miffed, but then again we have a hard time flipping our mattress together, so it was probably best that we didn’t do anything that required any sort of physical teamwork.
The first three obstacles all involved logs. First, a series of long high logs that you had to either leapfrog over or squat under. I chose the path of least humiliation, which was going under every single one of those suckers. Next, I rode a rope Tarzan-style so that I ended up over a log. It wasn’t graceful, but I made it. Then it was onto a balance beam of two logs, which started out with a few false starts but then were manageable.
I was patting myself on the back for a bit until I got to the sleds, a.k.a. my own personal Pit of Despair. The sleds are these metal contraptions you push on the ground, and I kept getting them stuck in tufts of grass. I was still struggling in agony with them when the duo behind me caught up to me. This was not going well.
I next had to run down the length of the field, stopping for a few burpees of course, before getting to this tangle of wire I had to bear crawl under. After that I crab crawled (yes, another animal movement – no upright walking for this gal!) over to the monkey bars, stopping for a few burpees along the way. By that point I am panting like Alec Baldwin after an angry Twitter tirade.
I can only pray that no one saw my monkey bar performance. By “performance”, I mean that I managed to get across three of them and then hung there in agony until I fell off. (By the way, these were sadistic, super-high monkey bars that went higher in the middle. That really didn’t make too much difference to those of us who fell off way before reaching the middle, but still.)
After that, things got a little fuzzy and I may have been a wee bit confused about what to do next. I curse those damn teenage boys who distracted me during the explanation part of things. So I end up flipping a huge tire a bunch of times, then I tugged another tire back to me with a long rope.
Soon my husband sees me and tells me that I missed a bunch of stations. Well yeah…of course I did, there were no numbers on any station, and at that point I had no idea who I was following. And you ditched me and left me partnerless, remember, Gym Class Hero?
At that point I didn’t care about the order of things, as long as I did every station. Oh and I may have missed a few burpees here and there. By accident, of course.
I do a few stations with a medicine ball and this long lunging series with heavy kettlebells which is the worst of it. But then I still have to face my nemesis, which is the big wooden climbing fence. Somehow we are supposed to use the slats on the side to go across the fence. I never got the memo, but of course my trusty husband manages to note my cluelessness. He yells something out to me, but by then I say, “Too late! I’m done!” and I’m on to the next thing.
I do a tightrope walk (easy peasy) and then run with a loaded wheelbarrow around a cone a few times. I jog through some tires, take a look at some web-thing, get confused, yell for someone to tell me what to do, get no answer, then jog back to the start to proclaim that I’m done.
Surprise, surprise, my husband is there to greet me, claiming that I missed some burpees while pointing to the ground. At that point I’m pretty sure my devil voice came out, and my head may or may not have spun around as I told him (through gritted teeth) to shut up and get me my water bottle.
Then something super crazy happens. While I am kissing the ground, people start to do the course again. This time we can omit the lunges, crab crawl and burpees. More and more partners start up again. Damnit, I am going to have to do it again because I can’t be a wussy. And so I do. Since I hemmed and hawed so much, I am the last person to start the second round and therefore the last person to finish, but I do.
I’m not going to tie this up with a pretty little bow and say that I am now an obstacle course convert who can’t wait to try it again. The point is, I faced my fear and I did it. And since I just entered my 39th year, I’d like to think that this kickedstarted a bit of a renaissance in my life. I am now eager to try out some more new experiences, although the next one may be something a little gentler. I’m thinking a new food.
 Beth is from MTV’s The Real World L.A. She later appeared on Road Rules/Real World Challenge where she was extremely annoying and disliked by everyone. Oh, and she pretty much sucked at most of the physical challenges and was ridiculed for being 40.