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Kicking Ass Even When It Hurts

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"Good morning, Ladies! Does anyone have any injuries, problems or areas of concern we need to watch out for this morning?"

The voice is that of Shelly, an annoyingly perky 20-something with 0% body fat, talking through her cordless mike. Having given up on the 7-minute scientific workout, I am here at the gym to be tortured into shape for 55 minutes.

Shelly is giving us her standard welcome to "Damage Control," a perfect class for a Monday morning after a weekend of too much -- too much steak, too much pasta, brownies, chips and wine. Aside from a few young moms, today's class is filled with my contemporaries -- baby boomer women.

I gather a mat, a squishy ball, neon weights of various sizes, a body bar and a Pilates circle, and lie down on the mat to stretch. I start to chuckle as I repeat the welcome from Shelly in my head: "Good morning, Ladies! Does anyone have any injuries, problems, or areas of concern we need to watch out for this morning?" Does Shelly really want to know if we have any injuries, problems or areas of concern? Could the question be anything but rhetorical? I look around the room. No, it could not.

Because if Shelly really wanted to know if our group of boomer women had any injuries, problems, or areas of concern, we might never get to the exercise. If we were really to tell the truth about what hurts (and the following physical concerns are based on actual conversations with friends in the past couple of days -- and trust me -- I've left out a whole host of psychological and emotional complaints), the complaining might overshadow the moving.

If we, the exercise ladies of the boomer age, were to tell the truth, this is how it might go down:

"Good morning, Ladies! Does anyone have any injuries, problems, or areas of concern we need to watch out for this morning?"

My hand would shoot up like the nerdy kid who knows the answer in middle school -- I love to talk about what hurts. "Oh, oh oh--- my Plantar Fasciitis is back on my left heel. I have Orthotics, but I don't think they are working. And I have this rotator cuff issue with my left shoulder. It hurts when I go like this." And I would demonstrate how I can't reach behind me for my purse.

And then the floodgates would open:

Purple sneakers: "I'm going to have to go out to pee halfway through class. And sometimes when I do jumping jacks, I leak."

Leopard pants: "I have this intense pain running down my butt. I think it's Sciatica."

Anorexic looking one: "I haven't pooped in three days."

Lady who carries in the big Coach bag: "I have Bursitis in my knee."

And then, we would really be on a roll:

"I haven't slept well in a month."

"It's been a year for me!"

"I can't rotate my neck."

"My lower back is killing me."

"I have hip pain. Squats are out."

"My wrists hurt. No pushups for me"

"Sore elbow. Can't do plank."

"I just had my eyes done. I'm not supposed to be exercising yet."

"I just finished chemo."

"My fingers are arthritic."

"My gums are bleeding."

"I can feel a migraine coming on."

"I'm pretty sure I'm always dehydrated."

"I have an infected toe."

I would feel the need to wrap it up so we could get a little exercise in.

"Listen, Shelly, we all have a lot of stuff going on. Don't expect too much from us today."

But in real life, everyone takes Shelly's rhetorical question as intended. No one says a thing. Not one complaint is heard. The music starts up with a beat, Shelly starts squatting, and we open our mouths only to breath heavily and grab much needed sips of water. We all get through Damage Control as best we can, kicking ass as we get in shape, despite the damage of our middle-aged bodies.

Just another reason we are better after 50, right?

Read more from Better After 50:
They Saved My Husband's Life
Sports At 59: The Ultimate Life Enhancer
Post-Menopause: Time to Play
The Hardest Conversation

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