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When she pulled herself out of the ’80s to pump up her exercise plan, she learned that her fitness is not about anyone else but her.

I was that woman in your fitness class this morning. I couldn’t hear the instructions over the music. I bumbled the steps. I jogged in place during the jumping jacks for fear I’d pee my pants. I came a few minutes early to get a spot in the back and then flushed with self-consciousness when, with a twist and a jump, the instructor reversed the entire class and I found myself at the front.

Same health club, a few weeks earlier. Across the gym, in a wall-sized mirror, I saw a woman who seemed to have stepped right out of 1989. This must have been the high-watermark of her fitness attire, and she was sticking with it. Blousy, elastic-waisted, sky blue shorts, a hot pink tank top with white flecks where the stretchiness used to be, and tennis shoes that were on clearance at the big box store several years ago...


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Originally published as:

Paris, Jenell. “Working (Out) Mothering,” Working Mother Magazine, February 2015.