A little advice on “cow tipping”…

My day had started well. Well, mostly. My morning weigh-in was a little high, but I had determined to fight cravings and hit my workout hard. And I did. I was feeling good about myself.

The floor instructor gave me a warm-up routine that included 500 meters rowing followed by 10 inchworms, 10 air squats, 10 sit-ups and some stretches. Then I did the leg extension machine, followed by lunges, the seated leg curl machine, followed by 250 meters rowing, and another machine followed by something or another… every other machine punctuated by 250-meter rowing jaunts. (Enough so that I deemed the routine “Death Row,” which only encouraged my sadistic instructor all the more. He upped the rowing to 500 meters and assigned a last 1,000 meters when I thought my workout was completed.)

But I digress.

Somewhere along my Death Row experience, a man calmly began his weight-lifting routine in the machines across the aisle from me. He seemed to pray before he began each machine, and after he finished a set, he remained seated. He appeared so peaceful, I half expected him to say “Namaste” before he left the machine. He didn’t. Unlike me, he was not completing extra exercises between machines, and he occasionally looked my way as I performed mine. Apparently, watching someone else exercise has its own value.

At one point, I was doing a balance, killer-leg exercise that looks most like the toe touches on this page, except the back leg can extend upward higher than horizontal. The object is to tighten the core muscles to maintain balance as you stand on one leg, keeping your hips square to the front, extending the other straight leg backward, reaching with one arm to touch the floor and pick up something. (And then do the same exercise with the other leg, reaching down to replace what you had just picked up.) Again and again.

Try it. It requires concentration and balance. It makes me tremble — not from fear but from exertion. I often lose my balance and start again. It was while I was thus exerting myself that I heard Mr. Namaste speak.

“It’s like cow tipping.”

Umm. He dared say what?

At this moment I can no longer remember just how I responded to the peaceful, little Mr. Namaste. I’m sure I remained my sweet, friendly self though inside I was thinking, “Let me give you some advice about ‘cow tipping,’ Mr. Namaste. Don’t. Say. It.”

I know he thought he was funny. I’m sure I saw the humor in it too, but I also felt indignant.

Cow tipping? I doubt that man could knock a cow over even if the cow was drunk too.

A few days later, I returned to the scene of the crime. Mr. Death Row, the sadistic floor instructor, was there; Mr. Namaste was not. My friend Connie, however, was. When Ricky, aka Mr. Death Row, aka the sadistic instructor, assigned my friend and me some toe touches (now aka Cow Tipping Exercises), he and I recounted the event for Connie.

“I thought you handled yourself very well,” Ricky said to me. “I was thinking, ‘Man, you better watch what you say. This girl could kick your a**.’ ”

I was happy he thought I had behaved well since I had no opinion (or memory) of how I did or did not handle myself. (Kicking the man’s tush never crossed my mind, however.)

“All I remember,” I told Connie, “is that I said something that caused Mr. Namaste to reply, ‘Oh, I didn’t mean anything about size.’ ”

“Oh, well,” she responded. “Then you know that’s exactly what he was thinking…”

Huh. So that’s why I felt indignant.

Cow tipping, indeed.

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