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Time to Muscle Up!
Hugh Tilson
Photo Credit: Judy Tilson

James Ruffin’s “Muscle Up” exercise classes attract a lot of residents, and I don’t want to be late for the Friday morning session at 8:15. By 8:00 o’clock, all but two seats are taken. By 8:45, we will have had a good workout and more than a few laughs. Here we go!

8:12: James arrives at his usual time. Stands in the front of the room smiling, but doesn’t interrupt the enthusiastic morning chatter until time for class.

8:15: “Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen. Any new aches or pains? Any old aches and pains?” We haven’t found a good comeback for that yet, so there is silence. And he begins.

“First I’m going to challenge you.” He does. Are we seeing a sly smile? James demonstrates, and then he watches the clock while we take the challenge. Somehow we manage—glad to hear him start the countdown on the last 10 seconds.

A short rest, and we start again. “This time it‘ll be just a little different.” Little changes make a big difference as we work on balance, strengthening upper body, core and various muscle groups.

And here comes James with his special brand of encouragement: “Don’t forget to breathe.” “Is it burning yet? Good!” “Aw c’mon! Is that all you’ve got?” “Now you know, you’re my favorite.” “You’re my Number One!”

“Hey, James, I thought I was your favorite!”

“You are!” As it turns out, all of us are his favorite, or his Number One. Sometimes both.

“Now, I want you to look behind you, find your chair, and sit down. Good posture. Posture is everything. Be sure your weights are completely under your chair. I haven’t had anyone falling—yet. I trust you, but I don’t have eyes in the back of my head”

“Now I’m going to really challenge you.” And so it goes. Finally we hear, “Last exercise!”

8:44: By this time, James has walked around the room more than a dozen times; has greeted each of us individually, by name—unless we’re today’s Number One.

8:45: “Thank you very much Ladies and Gentlemen. See you Monday.”

And indeed he will!

8:46: Whew, that was quite a workout, as usual. Maybe we should go to the cafe for a Morning Glory muffin. Want to split one? Nothing could be finer.

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