Off Limits

By: Lola Darling

One





Chloe





"One more round everybody, just stick with me!"

I tuck my hips and rest my hands on them, elbows sticking out in my best imitation of the toned and tanned woman on my flatscreen TV. When Suzie Steel does this move, she looks like a rockstar posing in front of her adoring fans. Me? I'm rocking more what looks like an awkward chicken dance.

This is why I don't go to the gym. I'll stick to embarrassing myself in the private of my own home, thanks.

"Knees bent, remember, and stick that butt out. Now, we're going to try a modified squat here. As you come out of each one, I want you to rotate those hips—remember, rub it in!" she calls with a gleeful smile as she demonstrates the move, which will no doubt set my ass on fire, yet looks effortless when she does it.

I grit my teeth and join her in the next set.

"Yes, ladies, right there. Circle those hips, rub it in good."

It takes all my concentration not to burst into laughter, especially given how uncoordinated I feel to begin with. Rub it in. Yeah, okay Suzie.

"Better sore than sorry!" she adds with a painfully cheerful grin as I dip into the next set of squat-stand-rotate. My thighs ache, and my ass, sure enough, burns like hell.

I'm going to regret this when I have to haul said ass to work in less than an hour. Especially given the heels I’ve chosen to wear today. But hopefully, if I can keep this up for the next couple of months, I might be decently toned in time for the summer. Lazing on the beach looking even remotely as svelte, flat-stomached and sexy as Suzie Steel—despite the fact that she's at least twenty years older than me—will be totally worth it.

Right, Chloe, a little voice at the back of my head interrupts the daydream. Like you're going to have time to relax on a beach. Or anywhere, for that matter.

I suck in a deep breath and hit the next squat hard, trying to force that voice out of my head. Okay, true, I've been a little overworked for the last . . . several years. And yes, last summer I basically forgot to take a vacation. And yes, I backed out of going to my best friend Heather's summer beach house not once, but three times.

But this is a new year. New me. Look, I'm even rocking this whole working out thing.

"Five more reps, ladies! Excuses burn zero fat per hour, remember that."

I narrow my eyes at the screen and bend my knees again, my thighs shaking with effort. "I'll give you excuses, Suzie," I mutter under my breath. Okay, so rocking it is an exaggeration. More like staggering through it like an ungainly imbecile. But I’m doing it! That’s what counts, right?

God, how many more days of this?

“Your ass isn’t going to tone itself when you sit on it,” Suzie says, as if she heard me thinking. Damn her. “Come on, with me, last two reps now. And rock those hips, shake it out, now rub it in.”

This time I really do let an unladylike snort escape as I rock my hips in motion with hers. Honestly, I love Suzie’s workouts, but the cheesy one-liners kill me at times. Maybe that’s the point? Distracting me from the hellish pain that is my ass right now?

“Aaaand, done. There we go, how do you feel?” Suzie asks the screen with a painfully sincere, huge smile.

I glare at her. “Like death warmed over in the microwave,” I mumble, leaning over to stretch my legs as best I can.

The video leads me through a few cool-down exercises, and I follow for as long as I can before the clock catches my eye. Crap. I’m going to be late if I don’t jump in the shower now.

I shut off the video with a sigh.

Hmm. I do feel a little more awake than usual, though. None of that post-exercise endorphin high that the girls at work talk about getting at the gym—to be honest, I’ve never experienced anything post-workout besides the crushing urge to lie in a hot tub—but I am kind of proud of myself. I woke up an extra hour early for this and everything.

Today is going to be a good day, I tell myself as I step out of my sweaty yoga pants and into the warm embrace of my shower. I can just feel it.



My brand new Louis Vuitton heels clack on the marble floor of our office as I scroll through my Blackberry, typing addendums to my schedule as needed.

9:30 a.m. – meeting with boss.

10:15 a.m. – meeting with my client.

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