...And didn't Die
I Worked Out in a 100-degree Fitness Studio and didn't Die
October, 2018 - Issue #169
Publisher's Note: I just turned 40! In honor of my big birthday, I've committed to trying things "outside my box" with only one caveat: It has to have little likelihood of killing me physically. (I do have three kids.). But for someone famous for shutting down to-do suggestions with, "I'd rather die!" these 12 activities are plenty of stretch for a gal who's spent four decades trying to get out of leaving the house.

Me, not dying, with Angela
Me, not dying, with Angela

"Therese, you've got to work out with me! It's yoga, but to loud Bob Marley music. And the studio is, like, 100 degrees. You'll love it!"

Um, no. Take your sweaty sweatness and your flexibility and general enthusiasm for exercise and go away. Work out in an intentionally-heated space? Work out... at all? Thanks, but I'd rather die.

Or, that's what I thought when a pal promoted the new fitness craze on the Valencia block: Drenched. With classes ranging from Hip Hop Yoga to Pilates Sculpt, Rock the Barre, Barre Fight and Sweat of Shame, this sounded like a place that I would thoroughly enjoy disliking. I pictured rock-hard ab'd women in LuLu stretchiness, sweating glitter, wearing tanks that said, "I survive off coffee, Target & gangster rap." Those women are awesome - and intimidating. I can hardly handle Target with a La Croix in my hand and Weezer in my earbuds.
This is not your "ommmm" yoga. This was sweat until you can ring out your sports bra; flow from pose to pose to get your heart pumping; don't worry about perfecting the pose just be present and have fun yoga. And damn it - I loved it.

I was only kind of wrong and, upon entering Drenched for Round 1 of my "Didn't Die" series, was pretty sure I very much would, in fact, die.

You could open a beer bottle off Owner Angela's six pack, but you wouldn't because you'd already be drunk off her gorgeousness. To my dismay, she was also instantly approachable, welcoming and kind. It was going to be so hard to tell this wonderful woman that I'd rather die than take her Hip Hop Yoga class.

So I didn't, at least, not directly. I just hinted that I hadn't taken a formal exercise anything in half a decade, hoping that she was at least somewhat nervous that my middle-aged couch-locked tail might require a call to the local EMTs before class was done.

I was sure I was going to be the oldest, most out of shape, least graceful human in the electric-candle-lit mirrored - and hot - studio... and two out of three were dead on. But I was pleased to note that the other women there represented every shape, size, age and fitness level imaginable. A quick informal survey showed that Drenched clients range from late teens to nearly 70s.

Realizing that if a septuagenarian could bounce her butt in the dry, heated air and not die, so could I, my mat was laid out and we got down to work.

This is not your "ommmm" yoga. This was sweat until you can ring out your sports bra; flow from pose to pose to get your heart pumping; don't worry about perfecting the pose just be present and have fun yoga. And damn it - I loved it.

About half way through my fifth cobra, I felt my shoulders open up in a way that usually requires two masseuses and a really-generous spa gift card from my mother in law. It felt good. Then went the hips. They audibly popped their hellos. "Oh, hi!" I thought. "I remember you!" And so on, because I'll admit: At one point, tears pricked my eyes. In this place of literal and figurative warmth, surrounded by women who were there for all the right reasons, I felt connected to my body for the first time in as long as I can remember.

It was an emotional moment - and that's when I thought that I would for sure die.

Angela's eyes met mine and she mouthed, "Good job!" That positive affirmation got me feelin' and a few more tears fell, but no one noticed, because by then I resembled the "after" photo of a pro athlete after a Gatorade dump.
As the class was wrapping up, I was able to observe my yogamates engage with Angela and each other. Music suggestions for next time were made. Questions about how kids were liking college were lobbed. Compliments - a lot of them - were given out with sincere abandon. Everyone liked each other - and I liked them, too.

My name is Therese, I just turned 40, I had an absolute blast sweating in a Hip Hop Yoga class - and I didn't die.
Drenched on Cinema Drive in Valencia is celebrating their one-year anniversary with an annual unlimited-classes membership for $999. 713-2601
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