I am seated on a chair in a bare workout room at The Greenhouse, one
of the more posh women-only spas on the Goddess's Green Earth. Only the
earth isn't green. It's mid-winter and the ground is covered with snow and
two inches of "black ice," a situation in Dallas where nobody goes anywhere
fast. Schools are closed. Nothing is moving. Not even the Greenhouse limo,
which was to ferry most of these 30 women, who have paid close to $4,000 for
the week, on a healing trip "over the wall" to the source of all retail
pleasure: Neiman Marcus. So we're stuck because the limo driver doesn't want
to chance any liability.
So now, 30 women who can't go shopping are bored, bored, bored. In
other words: the inmates of this white filigreed, peach-upholstered,
mink-lined self-torture chamber are getting restless. They've been Stepped
and Pilatused, Watused and massaged up the wazoo. And there's not much left
to do between facials and dinner but bitch about the weather.
A quick Sit-and-Be-Fit class has been inserted at a moment's notice
by the Greenhouse's fitness staff. And it is commencing presently in the
mirror-lined aerobics studio. We've had our delicious, fat-free 400-calorie
lunch and, instead of slipping into something appropriate for retail madness
at Neiman Marcus, ten or so women have opted to stay in their Greenhouse
uniformconservative, black cap-sleeved leotards (no thongs here, please)
and participate in yet another exercise class.
So, how do you sit and be fit?
I'll never pooh-pooh it again. More sweat and agony than trying to
bench press 100 pounds. And it all started with us "doin' our Kegels."
Only the preternaturally peppy, terminally aerobicized women
sporting a sprayed-on fuchsia catsuit who has been assigned to lead this
class, isn't calling the rhythmic clenching and unclenching of what is
basically a woman's sex muscle, "doin' your Kegels." Given that most of the
women seated in this room are way over the age of consent and still wear
white gloves when they go to church or lunch, it wasn't seemly to remind
them that they'd ever had sex. Not even once. As my wise old Yiddish
grandmother once said: "Vat vas, dollink, vas."
As a prelude to creating puddles of sweat down our backs, Jodie the
instructor trilled out in a deep Texas drawl: "Tighten that little muscle
that sort of looks like an O-ring as if you were supressing gas or trying to
stop your urine flow." Ok. That works.
Jodie has got her rap down. Not even Catherine McKinnon could be
insulted by an sexual overtones in these instructions.
As I looked around the stark aerobics studio, I realized I was the
only one under 60. So I wanted to see what kind of reaction there was on the
faces of women whose gentility was written all over them. Most of them hadn't
lived out of the sun, an indication that they'd spent their days on golf
courses and tennis courts. They'd wintered in Sea Isle or the Bahamas and
had never given a thought to sun damage, cancer or even early widowhood.
Gold jewelry was common currency and it stayed on in the Jacuzzi, during
pool exercises, yoga class and now, Sit-and-Be-Fit. So did their lima
bean-sized diamonds. Their husbands, by and large, had been "in ohy-ll." And
now, these lovely and lonely white-haired ladies who probably never uttered
a swear words in their lives aloud, were bravely squeezing away, their backs
ram-rod straight and their faces rapt in concentration.
Kegel. Kegel. Who's got the Kegel, anyhow?
The squeezing of the pubococcygenus (or PC) muscle has been a
natural adjunct to excellent sex since Adam nailed Eve. However, it took a
physician named Dr. Arnold Kegel in 1952 to name it and to explain to the
female populous that exercising it was a sure-fire way of not only
increasing healthy muscle tone in the vagina, but guaranteeing it would
heighten sexual pleasure for both them and their partner. The muscle tone
part, Jodie the Perky described in decorous terms. She convinced The Ladies
of the Greenhouse they would need these exercises to keep their backs
upright, their spines straight and what was left of their uteruses in place
as intercourse (the very best exercise for the PC muscle) became a fond
I have to credit Jodie for urging these women, myself included, in
her non-confrontational euphemisms, to do what all women should do: Squeeze,
squeeze and strengthen.
The PC muscle, says sexologist Dr. Louane Cole, "acts as an
anatomical sling supporting the pelvic organs." So while sex may have been a
precious memory for these rich Texas women, they bravely followed orders,
never connecting with the fact that their husbands got the benefits early
on and probably never even heard of Dr. Arnold Kegel. </end>
Cynthia Robins bio TK
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