Fancy Footwork


Would you rather read a tender romance… or a report from the eighth grade science fair?

I ask because I can go either way. I was reclining propped by soft pillows as the handsome man dimmed the lights. He took my vulnerable, naked foot into his warm hands, strong fingers wrapping around the arch. “How’s the pressure?” he purred.

As it happens, my reflexology appointment with Bobby (at Body Dynamics in Falls Church, VA) was a lot more like an eighth grade science fair.

In fact, my whole fitness journey is like an eighth grade science fair – except I was a lousy science student in eighth grade and now I’m continually goggle-eyed, amazed and fascinated by what I’m learning about anatomy, kinesiology, cardiovascular endurance, the role of nutrition and sleep, and the perpetual, ongoing quest to WAKE UP THE GLUTES.

So I hope you weren’t eager for romance – because this was ALL SCIENCE FAIR!!

Bobby is a trainer at BDI. I didn’t even know he was also a masseuse until the recent massage workshop. I went with my friend Laura, who’d recently had shoulder surgery. There were four massage tables set up in the Balance Class room, and the four BDI masseurs standing by them, ready to demo the different kinds of massage available – it was a drool-fest and pretty fascinating.

And Bobby was working on Laura’s neck and talking with her about her shoulder surgery. At the time limit (“get up and give someone else a chance”), Bobby refused to surrender Laura. He moved to her feet and began his version of reflexology (besides going to massage school, Bobby trained in Thai massage) – and Laura began making faces.

These faces are familiar to you because you’ve seen them on the faces of your dining companions when they bite into something magnificent. Perhaps you’ve seen these faces on your sexual partners – well done, you, if so. (Look! We’re back to tender romance!)

These are the faces of people who are suddenly lost in a sensation. The brain temporarily shuts off and the body takes over.

Laura got off the table and staggered over to me. She woozily put her shoes and socks back on. “Is your shoulder better?” I asked.

“Uh – yeah!”

Uh, yeah is right. I signed up for my hour with Bobby (and then stupidly arrived a full 15 minutes late; I hate that. It’s so rude. I blame traffic… but also that I kinda forgot until the last possible moment, eek).

Bobby and I discussed what he was doing and what he was noticing. He told me that there are some 7,000 nerves in the foot, and that reflexology focuses there instead of on the hand (which has even more nerve endings) because the foot is bigger and it’s easier to tease out the different strands of information.

“You’re a shallow breather,” he said.

“You can tell that from my FOOT?” I squeaked.

Bobby grinned. (This alone is worth the price of admission; Bobby has a megawatt grin you could use in a blackout to find your way to safety.) “I can tell that because I’m looking at you.”


“But also because this is the part of the foot associated with the lungs.” He bore down a little and I squeaked again – this time because he’d found a tender spot. “This tells me maybe you’re dealing with something in your respiration.”

We talked about the fact that I was running with Barbara, and that the reason I slow down and start walking is not because my muscles wear out but because my lungs do.

“Try doing some deep breathing. Fill your lungs to the bottom. Not all the time – just when you remember. See if you can’t become a deep breather, slowly.”

Well, shit.

That was pretty fascinating

There was more – a lot more – but that was my big take-away. When we were done, I was scheduled for my Barbara fitness appointment. We were going running. How provident!

I put my sneakers back on; my feet felt smaller in my shoes. Was that because I just didn’t lace the shoes up tightly enough? Or were all those muscles primed and ready and sleek and loose?

Bobby had worked my ankles, so my foot rolled more easily; that was a plus. But mostly my run was notable because I was trying to breathe more deeply. (Barbara has told me repeatedly to breathe more deeply, but sometimes you can’t hear the message until you’re ready – or until a handsome man is holding your foot while he says it.)

And here’s what happened:

Envision my lungs as a large flannel bag. I use the upper two thirds, and a cluster of kittens has taken up sleepy residence in the lower third. They’re curled up, purring and warm, unassaulted by the gasping wind of my cold pants… until yesterday.

I was trying to breathe into the bottom of my lungs as I ran, and all the kittens woke up and began protesting, driving their tiny kitten needles into my flannel bag… it’s going to take a bit of time to work those kittens into mighty tigers, but I’m going to do it…

…and we made it back around our mile and returned to Body Dynamics in good time. I think I’ve run the loop in less than this 13 minutes, three seconds – but I don’t think I’ve ever gotten to 12 minutes yet. YET. I can’t claim a “personal best” or anything, but I bet it was close.

So I think the fancy footwork was a benefit. Heaven knows, it was fascinating. I’m going back!

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Oh, dear. Upon re-reading, I see that it looks like I have a REAL crush on Bobby (as opposed to the entertaining crushes I already have on Barbara, Gwynn, Grace, Chip, Mario – all those fit, happy, kind people at Body Dynamics). But really – the man is TWELVE. I don’t want him. I just want to look at him. Don’t we all need more kind, smart, cute people in our lives??

4 thoughts on “Fancy Footwork

  1. once again, Pru, you have me snorting my coffee across the room! How do you do that? I wish I lived near you so I could partake of your wonderful gym, go running together, and/or eat bonbons.


  2. This is fascinating on a number of levels, but especially because I’m reading a book called “The Oxygen Advantage” that argues most of us breathe *too* deeply most of the time and that we should all practice a little oxygen deprivation every day — essentially what happens when you live/train at high altitudes. Apparently, when you then perform at sea level, you generally do much better. That said, he does make the point that breathing should involve the whole diaphragm, not just the lungs–even when breathing “lightly.” The other central argument is that “noses are for breathing; mouths are for eating” –always, including exercise, when sleeping, etc. I have heard this before, but had never read the science behind it. I have to say, it’s pretty convincing (maybe because there’s no one there arguing the other side?).


    1. NO KIDDING?! Oxygen deprivation is a GOOD thing?? This is very curious indeed! (But the author and Bobby are agreed; breathing should involve the diaphragm – which mine doesn’t unless I’m paying attention.) And let’s pause for just a moment to consider how VERY odd the word “diaphragm” is. English is a very peculiar language!


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