September 11, 2017

Barbara Gallagher Benson is my Gandalf.

(Except way prettier and a great deal less bearded…)

She guides me. I’m capable and competent and all that, but she’s the one who figures out where we’re heading, even when I can’t see the destination.

(Barbara is my first and lead trainer at Body Dynamics in Falls Church, VA.)

On my very first day working out with her, over a year ago now, she had me go to my hands and knees. “Now reach your right hand forward while stretching your left leg behind you.” I’d barely shifted my weight to attempt this when she said “Nope. Stop. Not yet. Do this instead.”

What had she seen? What fell voice on the winds had she heard? I have no clue; it’s part of her wizarding ways to spot invisible signs. (She has x-ray vision anyway, which has to be a useful addition for a trainer. How she can see through baggy clothes, ample insulating fat, and straining muscles to know what my bones are doing is beyond me, but when I ask her how she can see that, she looks mildly surprised and says “I can see it” in a “duh!” sort of way. Wizard.)

Over the past year, she’s been leading me over the pass at Galapas and through the mines of Moria. (If this gets a little too Lord of the Rings for you, pardon me; I have nerdishness in me.) Sometimes she stops to think, trying to figure out where we go next, but she always ends up with a reassuring “It’s THAT way,” and on we go.

Wait – my analogy is giving me the giggles. I’m the ring-bearer, only it’s the ring of excess weight around my middle that I’m trying to take to Mordor to throw in the flames of Mount Doom. (Hah!)

And I have my fellowship now to help me. Barbara is my Gandalf, and Grace my Legolas. Chip is my Boromir, only he’s really Faramir, Boromir’s far more noble brother. Gwynn is Aragorn, hiding her royalty beneath a fetching hooded cloak. Chad is the tallest, most fit Gimli, skillfully wielding his Shoulders Down axe.

(Devin, blissfully friendly front desk expert and Zoomba teacher, can be Arwen, the elven princess. A dud of a role in the books, but they smoked her up nice for the movies. Devon’s got a Liv Tyler thing going on, too.)

Those who smile and nod at me as we work out together – Marty and Alma and Nadine and Doris – those are my fellow hobbits. Good-hearted, kind, supportive, working on a hero’s journey of their own.

And Steve, the too-rarely-mentioned bestie, is my Sam, the true hero and the one who really does all the work while I have to be dragged or cossetted or carried to get to the end. One Metabolism To Rule Them All.

Now I’ve totally entertained myself and probably driven you off, an Ent disgusted with all this noise and chatter. But my point is – without Gandalf, my journey would be so much harder. Maybe impossible. If you’re on a journey of your own, for Pete’s sake, get a wizard. They’re very, VERY useful!

By the way – I can now do that on-all-fours, opposite-hand-and-leg reach like a champion. Barbara nods as if she knew it all along. “You weren’t ready for it before. Now you are.” And that makes me wonder what she’s doing now that will let me do something amazing later.

There’s a rope hanging from the rafters in the corner of the big fitness room at Body Dynamics, and once I idly commented that I wish I, too, could climb that rope. “You want to be able to do that?” Barbara asked. “Well, yeah – I’d also like to be able to fly, but that’s not going to happen.” “Okay,” she came back at me. “We’ll get to that.”

What?? This woman who knows my muscles better than I do thinks I could EVER climb a rope? There’s no way in hell.

Is there?

Barbara is my Gandalf.





Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s