There was only one other plane on the small tarmac. The temperature was 85 F, and I was already contemplating a swim in the green waters I’d seen during our descent. Suitcase in one hand, coat in the other, I walked down the stairs and headed for the airport entrance. I took my time. I wanted to soak in the sunlight, to absorb the warm, humid breeze. With each step, I left the cold winter behind me, the hustle of the big city, the stress of the holidays.
I had come to St. Thomas to join Jennie G. beach fitness group. I’m not good at keeping resolutions. Committing to exercise a certain number of days per week would be setting myself up for failure. Instead, my plan for 2015 was to begin the year on the right foot. Only three days of exercise and the exercise was to take place in paradise. Even I could do that.
Well, not exactly.
Jennie’s workouts take place on the beach early in the morning. I was excited about the beach part, but the early morning part had me worried even before I arrived on the island. In addition to not being a resolution person, I’m not a morning person.
Rising at 5:30 am to make my flight at JFK was taxing enough. But it was so worth it.
As I walked now toward the entrance of the small airport, I felt my clenched muscles loosening, my body feeling with energy and purpose. Tomorrow, I decided, I would get up just as early. I’d watch the sun rise over the hills, eat breakfast and join Jennie’s group on the beach.
I only made it to breakfast the next morning. I slept through the sunrise and the fitness class. But I had a good excuse. I couldn’t sleep that night. Insomnia somehow always hits me when I can least afford it.
I had better luck the next day. Instead of the morning workout session, Jennie took us kayaking in the afternoon. I had never kayaked in my life but I would take any adventure before an exercise routine. We started out at one end of the beach and headed all the way across Magens Bay before going out and around the bend, looking for the cave that was the aim of our expedition. As a novice, I sat in a double kayak. I don’t know how much I contributed to our progress, but we hadn’t even reached the cave when my arms began to ache. And we had the wind at our backs. Returning would be twice as hard, but I couldn’t even think of that.
I have never approached a cave from the sea and that experience alone was worth the pain in my arms. The sound of the waves crashing into the cliff was at once frightening and meditative. The green water swooshed in, foaming at the edges, as it pushed into the bowels of the cave beyond the reach of my gaze. There was a great echo and we spent a good 20 minutes screaming like kids. I have always enjoyed the practice of saying “Om” in yoga classes, but shouting it out at the waves and hearing it echoed back, each new voice joining the chorus, was tremendous.
On the third morning, I finally made it to the beach in time for the workout session. The sun had just risen over the hills. The sea looked like liquid silver. Scores of pelicans dove into the water, feeding on fish. We jogged to a secluded area at one end of Magens Bay where we spread out and formed a loose circle around Jennie. Like most of the other girls, I was wearing my new Tryad suit that Jennie had sewn for me herself. I’d ordered it a few weeks earlier, using the online system to select the color and design and to plug in my measurements. I have never had a swimsuit fit me so perfectly. The best part was: it doubled as a workout outfit, the top giving me the protection of a sports bra even though it was made of a light and easy-to-dry material.
Needless to say, I could barely keep up with Jennie and the rest of the group. I often stopped halfway through a repetition to catch my breath or waited out the entire set. But I did my best.
I didn’t return to NYC in better shape. But as I type this, still sore from my beach workout, I feel excited and motivated to start exercising more regularly. Mission accomplished!
I’m on the lookout for other fitness trips that will keep me energized throughout the year. Any ideas?