Nick and Amy have been married for seventeen years and for basically all of those years they have been incredibly competitive with one another. It’s been mostly healthy competition, they know their limits and where to draw the line. For example, Amy knows to never bet on herself if she and Nick ever have to run for their lives because she’s never been a runner and in fact, hates it with a passion. If they are ever chased by a bear in the forest, forget it. Amy will curl into the fetal position and become the bear’s lunch. Nick, on the other hand, can run like the wind, without any training and wouldn’t even be winded. So, Nick has his special skills like running, anything to do with wiring electronics, and using the snowblower, but Amy has her areas of expertise too that Nick wouldn’t double-dog-dare to challenge his wife on, like cooking, remembering their children’s birthdays, and swimming since he can’t even doggie paddle. But occasionally, some new activity comes into their life, and because Amy is a little spicy and Nick just can’t help himself, someone has to come away with bragging rights of who can do it best.
“Hey babe,” Nick casually mentions over a leisurely Saturday morning breakfast. The newspaper is spread across most of the dining room table except for the section he’s holding. “This article I’m reading is all about the health benefits of yoga. You do yoga, right?”
“Yes, dear,” Amy responds, but in her head, she’s wondering if her husband actually lives in this house with her because duh, she does yoga every single day and he’s constantly kicking over her rolled up yoga mat in the living room. Well, every day might be a stretch but at least five times a week. Okay, but definitely maybe a solid three to four times a week she does yoga.
“I think I might start doing it with you. My workouts could use a bit of a shakeup.”
“Your workouts?” Amy raises one eyebrow and smirks.
“Hey now,” Nick scowls, but a smirk is playing on his lips, “I get to the gym at least five days a week. Okay, maybe not that often, but definitely maybe a solid three or four days a week.”
“There’s a yoga class every Saturday at our school,” a voice chimes in from the kitchen. Stella, their sixteen-year-old daughter has stopped pouring her cereal to eavesdrop on their conversation. “One of our guidance counselors at school is also a yoga instructor so there’s a free class for anyone every Saturday at eleven in the school gym. You two should go.”
“Thanks, honey, but I prefer to do yoga at home,” Amy calls back to her, wondering which counselor it could possibly be. One counselor Ms. Devlin always has an impossibly sour look on her face and according to Stella, is perpetually grouchy which would kill the zen vibe Amy assumes any decent yoga teacher should possess. The other, Mr. Bert, is the tallest human Amy has ever seen in person and just the idea of him in a full lotus position makes her giggle.
“Amy, I think we should try it out this morning,” Nick shoots back, a wide grin on his face.
“Really?” Amy is a little surprised by her husband’s exuberance, given the fact that yoga is kind of her thing and they typically tend to do their own things when it comes to exercise.
Thirty minutes later, Amy, in yoga pants and a Yoga is Life tank top she owns in six different colors, waits by the front door for her husband.
“Nick! We have to go if we’re going to get there on time!” Patience is not number one of Amy’s lists of qualities, in fact, it probably isn’t even on the list at all. “Nick!”
“Coming! Coming!” he calls as he bounds down the stairs. “Sorry, I couldn’t decide what to wear.”
“Um Nick,” Amy stammers, looking Nick over from head to toe, “I think you might want to reconsider this outfit.”
“Really? What’s the matter with what I’m wearing?”
Nick’s sweatshirt is quite possibly one from his early college years with the collar completely worn off and big holes in the sleeves that look like moths have gotten to it. With no t-shirt underneath, she can see the hairs on his belly showing through the crack between the sweatshirt and his shortest gym shorts and that’s what Amy’s mainly worried about.
“Your shorts are kind of short, babe,” Amy mentions, cringing at what’s already on display as he squats to take a seat on the bottom stair to tie his shoelaces.
“I think they’ll be fine.” Nick leans forward and grunts as he tries to see what Amy’s turning her head away from.
“You know what, never mind. Let’s go,” she laughs and grabs her car keys.
The parking lot at Stella’s high school is terribly crowded so they park in the back and jog in so they won’t be too late. Even so, the gym is already packed with people and the only open spots for Nick and Amy are right up front next to the instructor’s mat.
“Dammit,” Amy hisses under her breath. She’s already sweating from jogging across the lot and it’s very obvious to her now the sports bra she’s chosen to wear this morning is not a good supportive choice. “Front row? Really?”
“Front row, eh?” Nick tugs the hemline of his shorts down a bit as they weave through the crowd of yogis situating themselves on their mats. Amy immediately feels bad for anyone who chooses to glance up as Nick walks by. “I think I understand what you were saying back at home,” Nick leans over to whisper after he sees several people on the ground unable to maintain eye contact as he approaches them.
Amy throws him a look of pity as she tosses out her yoga mat, then hurries to peel off her sneakers and socks. Following her lead, Nick bends over to unroll his own mat and Amy is suddenly staring right into an area that, yes, she’s definitely seen before because she’s Nick’s wife, but is always a shock to the system up close. And now that she thinks about it, she doesn’t think she’s seen it from this angle before and it’s not pretty. There’s an audible gasp from a stranger behind her and Amy hangs her head in shame for her poor oblivious husband who’s finally taken a seat beside her.
“Ready for this?” he asks, his eyes shining with excitement.
“Babe, you might want to tie that sweatshirt around your waist.”
“That bad, huh?”
Amy shrugs her shoulders. “I think you impregnated the woman beside me. Also, she wants to poke her own eyes out after what she just saw.”
“I guess I could?” he offers.
“Do you have another t-shirt with you? Or are you going skins?” Amy giggles as Nick’s face registers the horror that is about to begin.
“Welcome, class,” a man’s voice rings out next to them. “Let’s start today in Sukhasana or a comfortable seated pose.”
Amy looks up to see the seven-foot-tall, string bean Mr. Bert is teaching the class. It’s been a while since she’s seen him and she’s certainly never seen him in yoga gear, so his already impossibly long legs look even longer in his tight black leggings and he’s trying desperately to grow a goatee to no avail. The trifecta of Bert’s patchy facial hair, the full lotus scenario she’d imagined him in earlier, and her husband’s package about to be on display for their entire community are too much and Amy begins to shake with silent laughter.
“Not funny,” Nick mutters next to her.
“A little funny,” she manages to spit out between snorts.
While everyone else in the room is rolling their necks and breathing deeply at Bert’s instruction, Amy is willing her giggles to go away. By the time he invites them to join him in mountain pose, she’s almost composed and ready for some yoga.
“Arms overhead, swan dive down into Uttanasana or forward fold. Now flat back and walk your hands out to a plank. Let’s hold it here for a few breaths and now tilt those sit bones up into downward dog. Breath. Lift your right let up high behind you and pull it through between your hands and drop your back knee down to a low lunge.”
Amy is halfway through the first vinyasa and feeling cocky because so far she does all those moves at home when she looks over to give her husband a reassuring smile, but he is huddling on the floor, pulling his arms from the sleeves of his sweatshirt.
“Are you okay?” Amy frowns.
“Um, yes,” he cringes and yanks his sweatshirt all the way off and knots it around his waist. “I brushed my yoga mat with my balls with that lunge, so I will now admit these shorts were not a great idea. Also, there are kids in this gym, and I’d like to get through the class without being arrested for indecency.”
Amy chuckles and wags her eyebrows at her bare-chested husband with the too-short shorts, just like he usually does to her and he cracks a smile. “Don’t you dare do that now, Amy,” he warns her, wagging his eyebrows back at her.
Nick rejoins the class in the Warrior Two pose and Amy swears she hears some sighs of relief behind them. Though the next few moves, Amy closes her eyes, relaxes and thinks to herself this class might actually be something she and Nick can do together every Saturday morning and she makes a mental note to thank their daughter for suggesting it.
“Come sit up on your heels and place your palms on the small of your back. Bend back into your hands, reaching your chin up and chest out.”
What a great stretch, Amy thinks to herself as she reaches her heart open, just like Mr. Bert tells her to do. She hears Nick sigh in satisfaction next to her and she almost reaches out to high-five him over how good this feels. They should do yoga together every day.
“One more just like that, and now slide your hands back to your heels, arch your back and reach your chest open for full camel pose.”
Amy doesn’t so much as glide herself into camel pose as she jerks into camel pose and in one horrifying instant, she realizes she’s made a big mistake. She’s forty-something, she’s had too many children, she’s not as bendy as she thought she was and now she’s stuck. Stuck for fifteen minutes, or fifteen seconds, she’s honestly not sure because she’s on the verge of blacking out in sheer panic and a little bit of pain, Amy snaps her head over to her husband for help, but he’s gloriously bent with ease into full goddamn camel position. His testicles may be resting on the mat, but apparently, he doesn’t care because his face is serene and zen.
Afraid she might have to pack up and move her family to another state if everyone sits up in second and sees her stuck in this position, she decides it’s now or never. Amy squeezes what’s left of her abdominal wall, after three pregnancies, with all her might and heaves her body forward, flailing her arms forward, hoping even if she doesn’t make it all the way up, she’ll have enough momentum to at least flop onto her side. It was a great idea, but with all the squeezing and thrusting of her body parts, Amy doesn’t exactly plan for the bodily noises that often accompany that kind of movement. A fart rips through the silence of the room and is immediately met with rumbles of laughter from the back of the room.
“What’s that, Amy?” Nick is staring at her open mouthed because, in the history of their twenty-something year relationship, he can count how many times she’s done that in front of him on one hand.
“I hate you. Your balls are hanging out and I am literally going to die of embarrassment. I’m leaving,” Amy croaks and scrambles for her things while everyone else is still in camel pose.
She gives Mr. Bert the middle finger, though his eyes are peacefully closed and unaware, and she curses his stupid goatee and yoga tights. Shirtless Nick grabs their shoes and together they sprint across the gym, their yoga mats flapping behind them until they’re in the safety of their car.
“So, yoga?” Nick asks as he pulls his sweatshirt back over his head and leans back in the driver’s seat.
“Stella and Peter might have to change schools. I mean, fifty people saw your junk and I can never step foot in that school again after the horror that just occurred. And when word gets out and they’re mocked at school, they won’t even be able to go in and talk to a counselor about it because Mr. Bert’s seen your balls. Should we move?”
“I don’t think it was that bad,” Nick laughs, but he leans back, and Amy can tell he’s replaying the entire class again in his mind as he starts the car and his face pales. “So, no more yoga?”
“Yoga is dumb,” Amy sighs.