Heads Up to the Old Boys Club

Physical training has been a part of my life for a long time.

When I was homeschooled, I began my day with a long-distance run. Three to five miles, every day. We lived on the route for the yearly mini/marathon during the Derby festival. It was perfect for runners (and walkers, strollers, and bikers)–access roads down both sides of the street, trees lining the route, gentle curves–it had everything. People drove across town to run on this street. At nine am, I laced up my sneakers and joined them.

This was before iPods–so I ran to the sounds of cars driving down the street, birds chirping in the trees, and the steady slapping of my feet on the pavement. No one could stop me. I was powerful. The other runners knew. I felt a kinship with them, and we nodded to one another as we passed. Save for one old man. He never acknowledged me. But I nodded, every morning, just the same. Sometimes I’d breathe out a “morning!” as I passed. He kept going. I ran alone, but I was never alone.

As a teenager, I PT’d with my fellow CAP cadets. We fell in, spaced out, stretched, and went. Jumping jacks, push-ups, lunges, sit-ups, formation runs, and all manner of other sadistic shit the cadre could come up with. We sang jodies. We “hoo-ah’ed” at the top of our lungs. We shouted encouragement to one another. We pushed ourselves. Five more push-ups. Ten more sit-ups, come on. Thirty more seconds off that mile, you can do it.

In Army ROTC, it was the same, save more sadistic shit, like running to Barren river and back, stopping along the way to do push-ups in gravel parking lots. (Thanks, Sergeant. I’ll never forget it.)

I worked out with friends. Running laps on the Hill. Two hours swimming laps in the pool. Those fucking ellipticals in Preston.

I go to the gym now, every night after work with some co-workers.

My muscles burn. My heart races. My lungs suck in air, more and more. After a while, my eyes focus on absolutely nothing, and I’m in The Zone. I’m more aware of my body then, than at any other moment. When sweat starts to drip down my face, I push harder. I want more. I revel in the drops creeping their way down my cheeks. Ten more reps. One more minute. Ten more pounds. I can do it.

I can do anything.

When I step off a machine, my muscles stiffen. I can feel them bulging and hardening. I set off toward another machine, and my spine is straight, my shoulders are set, and my legs move of their own volition, with purpose.

I am strong.

I am proud.

I am Woman.

And yes, I will take you on.

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About Brittany-Ann
Brittany-Ann is a proud, self-identified feminist with fictional tendencies. She currently writes for LouisvilleKY.com and moderates at My Fault I'm Female. She smokes camels, reads Dumas, and navigates a conservative state as "one of them darn liberals."

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