Monday, October 8, 2012

"Plug it in! Pull it out!"

  Early Morning Workout, 2012
(Click on images to see larger)

You’re apparently nothing in Santa Monica if you don’t take part in an early morning workout session. Almost from the time the sun starts to peek over the mountains to the east, the grassy park that runs along the bluff above the Santa Monica oceanfront becomes a seemingly unending series of workout classes.
Mind you, I don’t know this because I was in one of these classes. I was just walking back to our hotel from the Santa Monica Fishing Pier when I came upon this undulating carpet of colorful spandex tops and shorts.
Brief aside: For a place that can seem to noisy at other times of the day, the hour just after sunrise is glorious in Los Angeles. On this particular day in Santa Monica, the ocean lapped quietly at the shore. There was little traffic noise. A large circle of people who’d all been touched by suicide stood together at the water’s edge sending their grief out with the retreating surf. The Santa Monica Fishing Pier is long enough that by the time you get out to the far end of it you can at least mentally check out from the chaos of mainland America for a few minutes.
Pacific Sunrise Panorama, 2012
As for the people working out, I’m not making this up. There was barely a stretch of lawn in the park that didn’t have a group of people working out on exercise mats. None of them looked like they actually needed to work out. That’s California for you. (And, yes, I understand that regular workouts are probably why these folks look so trim.) My wife told me later that what I saw was probably the latest iteration in the Billy Blanks tae bo fad.
Just before I headed across Ocean Avenue to our hotel, I came upon some stragglers from a workout group that was a little more rag tag than the others. The members of this group weren’t all trim. Their outfits weren’t as stylish. They were working their hearts out, though, huffing and puffing and jumping about and running back and forth.
This wasn’t the strange part. The strange part is that while all of the other workout groups were working almost silently—after all, you can’t carry on much of a conversation when you’re hustling just to keep up with the hectoring instructor—the members of this group were all chanting.
I couldn’t hear what it was they were saying at first.  Then one of the group members took a run past me. He looked completely beat, but challenged himself to take yet another step by yelling out the mantra: “Plug it in! Pull it out!” He just kept repeating it, even when it seemed like he didn’t have enough breath left to verbalize anything. I have no idea what he meant.
Eventually I tired of watching all this physical exertion and crossed the street to our hotel. Along the way I came upon a lovely lady walking her Welsh Terriers. (Our Welsh Terrier looks most like the one on the left.) She was agreeable when I asked if I might take a picture of the dogs to show my wife. Looking back now, the difference between the picture I took that morning and how I’d do it now is striking. Why the heck did I leave the lady out of the picture?
A Couple of Terriers Out for a Walk, 2012

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