By Elena Garcia

Recently a friend of mine decided to show how much he disliked me by taking me along to his kick boxing class.

As a preface to this story I would like to point out that I am in no way physically fit. The only time I get any exercise is when I am running to the subway and when I am shopping the sales. (You’d be surprised how much of a work out a day of shopping can be!) So when Bauke asked me to join him at his Muay Thai Kick Boxing class, I probably should have said no.

The class it self was amazing, I could see why people get into it and the instructors were fantastic! I, however, am weak and was panting like a dehydrated dog five minutes into the warm up.

The gym, located by my favorite shopping destination Jingan Temple, offers Muay Thai Kick Boxing and Yoga classes. Everyone there spoke English; they were incredibly attentive to the fat girl (aka me) and definitely gave me the work out I paid for. By the end it felt more like they gave me two workouts for the price of one but this was one sale I didn’t want to take advantage of.

They started the class by having everyone jump rope. I should have figured at this point that I wasn’t going to be able to compete with the lot semi professional athletes in the beginner’s class. Before the class even started people were getting the jump ropes and jumping. The teachers hadn’t even started the class! Being the excellent student that I am, I chose to wait for my instructor to instruct. No need to put that extra effort in!

But eventually watching everyone else jump rope I caved in and started before the teacher. Even the kid in the back of the room can’t slack off all the time.

After the jump rope a variety of warm up activities were conducted which made me sweat like a fat man in the south. My mystic tan was SO not having it.

After about 30 minutes of warming up we started the actual exercises! THIRTY MINUTES!!!! I was nearly dead on the floor with a heart attack at that point.

I partnered up with a small Chinese girl who I figured I could handle.

Well I figured wrong. The girl was fierce. She punched like Tyson and kicked like a Rockette. I was hurting! That and I couldn’t remember the combinations so I would never move the pads in time for one of her upper cuts or knee hit things. Not only was I failing miserably as a Kick Boxing champ but also I was not letting my Karate Kid partner live up to her potential.

I apologized profusely for sucking as a partner but she shrugged and acted like it didn’t bother her. The irritation in her breath said otherwise.

After the kicking part was the cool down part… don’t let the name fool you.

Crunches, twists, stretch… I was exhausted and the amount of sweat bleeding out of my pores was absurd. I had long kissed my mystic tan good bye.

Finally the class was over and chubby ness was able to escape to the comfort of my shower. I thought the pain was over. I thought the serene tranquility of my apartment and Sex and the City DVDs would let me fall right into my old patterns: Eating Mac and Cheese while doing nothing!

It wasn’t until I woke up Sunday morning that I realized how much pain this class was really costing me. I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t bend, I couldn’t sit, I couldn’t stand. My entire body was protesting my participation in exercise. People in Berkeley sit in trees; I turn against myself and deny my joints the ability to bend.

It wasn’t until the following WEDNESDAY (I took the class Saturday afternoon) that I was able to laugh about my excruciating pain with only a slight sensation of the residual pain.

Needless to say though, I would do it again.

By Elena Garcia

Enjoy YoungIf you weren’t aware I have a problem. To some people (the workforce of my favorite department stores and boutiques) my addiction to retail is not a problem. But to my dreams of one day owning a town house in Russian Hill next to Gavin Newsom, my addiction is a baseball bat crashing through the perfectly placed stain glass windows.

Now if you thought my problems would vanish when I arrived to Shanghai, well you thought wrong. One of the things Expats deal with when they move to a place like Shanghai is the magnification of their problems. If you came here with relationship, family, self esteem, or (in my case) retail addiction problems the Shanghai sky magnifies them and unfortunately they don’t sell Retail Addiction SPF at Watson’s.

What they do have for those of us dealing with the desire and need to stuff our closets like a Thanksgiving Turkey is Fashion Week. Made famous by the tents of New York and the designers from Paris, Shanghai has conquered a week in the year to devote to nothing but clothes, fashion and the spending of my money. Because I have mastered the art of spending money in Shanghai I got a few invitations to a few shows here. The first of the fashion shows I hit up was for designers Sury and Kay who have a couture line of dresses and a great boutique here in Shanghai.

On a typical Saturday afternoon out I came across their store and befriended Sury, who happened to be visiting the store for the day. She took my name card and swore to contact me. Weeks later I got a phone call asking for my address to send my tickets to the show!

Through those tickets I managed to leverage some additional tickets for JOG swimwear, a French bathing suit company and Enjoy Young China’s answer to Project Runway and my favorite of all the shows.

Enjoy Young is actually the name of a boutique that carries the designs of the contestants who compete on China’s version of Project Runway. It was exciting to see the looks of the potential next hot designer.

The clothes were edgy and fun and varied drastically like a bipolar house wife!! It was perfect!

My favorite was an amazing royal blue cotton and spandex dress with hot pink diamond-shaped fabric cutouts surrounding the skirt. Very geometrical and absurd in that way that makes it perfect. It was the kind of dress that made you wish you had the courage to wear others like it to get the attention and glory that comes with wearing a fantastic dress like it.

Another magnificent article, which I hope to add to my repertoire, was a hot pink toga style dress that almost looked like a perfectly scrunched and starched garbage bag painted hot pink and belted!

I must say there is definitely something magical about sitting next to a cat walk hidden by the darkness staring up at the bright lights and white walk way. I felt almost powerful, but then you have to get up and walk through the fluorescent lights of the lobby and you remember the reality you came from.

Needless to say for a short moment I felt the power in being an Olsen twin, in having fat greasy photographers take your picture and I mastered the hungry face of “Ohh that’s nice, I’ll have my stylist pick that out… in a different fabric of course!” Ahh to be an Olsen twin!