When I first moved to Boulder from Los Angeles, I was a fit, athletic mother of twin toddlers. I thought I looked great. When asked by other mothers, “What do you do?” I’d proudly respond, “I’m a fitness instructor!”
They’d give me a silent once-over. I could hear them mentally calculating my body fat to be more than the instructors they knew—the locals who teach ski conditioning or indoor cycling. Then they’d ask, “Oh! Huh! Well, what exactly do you teach?”
As it happened, my shirt was splattered with red wine twice from someone’s barely concealed choking fit of laughter. It seemed a little extreme, since all I had done was enthusiastically respond to their questioning with, “Why, I teach water aerobics!”
These experiences caused me to change my response. “I teach hectically difficult cross-training interval drills in the water for very fit athletes,” became my new story.
I learned I was no longer in Los Angeles, the land of “Who cares how you did it as long as you look great?”
As an instructor in L.A., the top three excuses my co-workers gave for needing a sub were:
1.My fake boobs are leaking.
2.My husband found out about the affair and he’s threatening to take the kids.
3.The power is out at my estate, and since I can’t open the gates I’m trapped in my house.
Here in Boulder, my peers (a term I have come to use quite loosely) had a different spin:
1.I have to be in Hawaii for the Ironman.
2.I need to go to Colorado Springs for the Olympic Trials.
3.My 4-year-old has qualified for the triathlon regionals in his age group.
The laid back L.A. attitude would no longer work for me, and I needed to find other moms I could bike or climb with. I joined a “parents of multiples club,” expecting to find kindred spirits. I came across a twin mom who could keep a straight face at hearing my climbing experience, and met her in the rock gym.
“So, did you have trouble getting back in shape after the babies?” I asked eagerly, certain this was a bonding topic for twin moms worldwide.
She lazily finished tying the knot on her harness across her impossibly flat stomach before responding.
“Not really,” she said. “Maybe the fact that I used to be a professional body-builder helped.”
Not one to learn lessons quickly, I encountered another twin mom willing to climb. Turns out she was a former pro cyclist and racing coach.
Accepting that I now lived in a city where the residents weren’t training to look good, but to actually win something, I downgraded my athletic resume’ to B.T. Used-to-be a climber/cyclist/skier–Before Twins.
It also dawned on me that everyone in Boulder was a sand-bagger about their athletic accomplishments. In phoning references for a baby-sitter, I spoke to a woman who worked out at the club where I was teaching. I asked what kind of work-outs she did.
“Oh,” she said, “I mostly run on the tread mill. That sort of thing.”
She seemed nice, and I looked forward to our paths crossing. It turned out we also shared the same chiropractor, who produced a copy of Runner’s World magazine for me—with this woman on the cover.
I have a new response to the question, “So, what do you do?”
I tell people I’m a freelance writer and stay at home mom. It’s a lot easier to explain, and it keeps the red wine stains off my shirt.