Saturday, June 7, 1975
THE MICHIGAN DAILY
ia" " June 7-175TE IHAfDIYaeree
By BETH NISSEN
"LIFT THOSE LEGS higher, girls,"
commanded the slim woman at the
front of the room, clapping her hands
Obediently, fourteen supine leotarded
women struggled to elevate their left
legs an extra inch into the air.
"Count of three! I can't hear you!"
scolded the exercise leader. "If you don't
count out loud, I'll make you hold your
legs up an extra five seconds."
Responding instantly to this threat,
fourteen voices alternated gasped breath-
ing with number sequences: "1-and-a-2-
and-a-3, (huff), 2-and-a-2-and-a-3 . . ."
The scene was "Happy Hour" at a lo-
cal figure salon. The women contorting
themselves on the carpeted floor were
spending their time and money to re-
duce their figures, increase their self-es-
teem, minimize their lower halves or
maximize their sex appeal.
TO HELP THEM in their efforts, the
salon featured a corps of enviably slim
exercise leaders in uniform brown leo-
tards, exercise sessions, diet plans, and
an array of machinery that would have
made the Marquis de Sade passionately
"Our goal is to reduce inches, not
necessarily weight," explained one
svelte employee as she pushed the lead
weight on the scale close to two hun-
dred to measure the weight of a short,
global woman. "We do have diet plans
available and we sell a selection of spe-
cial health and diet foods, but these are
optional. You can be five foot five and
weigh 120 lbs. and still look terrible. We
try to get the proportions right - to bi-
kini perfection. That's what's import-
She marked down the woman's weight
on her figure chart. "You're up three
pounds, Mrs. Addison," she said scold-
ingly. "Too much ice cream for dinner?"
"Most of the women find exercising
easier when it's done on machines," ex-
plained another exercise drill sergeant
who looked disarmingly like a Barbi
doll. "Trying to get up to do sit-ups in
your living room is boring. We give the
ladies a cheerful place with lots of ma-
chines to take those inches off."
THESE MACHINATED MARVELS of
reduction filled the brightly lit salon.
Along one wall stood a row of vibrator
the subjects tried 1. heave themselves that it contained a smuggled peanut but-
into some semblance of a sit-up over ter and jelly sandwich. "It's not on my
three tiers of stomach. diet," she confessed, "but you can't get
energy from celery after working out
A SERIES OF weight machines re- like this."
flected the lumpy figures of their users An elderly woman surveyed herself in
in their highly polished chrome. One wo- one of the mirror panels and fretfully
man rested on a covered bench and pinched her saddle-bag thighs. "I'm here
lifted a petite chrome barbell over her because I'm fat, of course," she said,
head to firm her jelloey arms. somewhat wistfully. "I have been for
Three women stood in line to use the years, and I hate myself when I'm fat. I
bust developer, watching its present user decided it wasn't healthy to hate my-
push padded weighted cylinders together self. So I come here three times a week
in front of her face with her forearms, to be thin like the magazine girls. When
as she anxiously checked for progress in I get rid of this-" (she gave her left
the mirror directly opposite her. thigh a violent punch with her fisted
In one corner are grouped the exer- hand - then I'll look better and like
cycles, crippled by enterprise to remain myself more."
forever stationary under enormous
weight. A group of women puffed heav- SEVERAL WOMEN in the salon were
ily, squirming to keep their wide bases there at the urging of their husbands,
on the perilously narrow seats, and in- in search of some improvement in their
tently ptedal-pushing to nowhere at a bedrooms, or in concern over the future
furious speed. of their marriages.
"Roy, my husband, paid for me," said
THE MIDDLE OF the spacious room a dumplingish blond woman with a
is left free for exercises. On the hour, she'd-be-so-pretty-if-she-only-lost-some-
a pleasant voice breaks into the taped weight face. "I think it was very con-
dentist-office music to announce to the siderate of him. I married him about
sweating "girls" that Happy Hour is 45 pounds ago, and he misses the old
about to begin. me." She sat on one of the wooden roller
The women gather slowly from the machines and her voice and stomach
corners and machinery and jealously vibrated like a jackhammer. "If he
claim a six foot square of carpet as their wants that and he is willing to pay for
own territory. For fifteen minutes, the it, I guess I can give it to him," she said,
women stretch, bend, strain to make gritting her teeth in determination.
"Several women in the salon were
there at the urging of their husbands,
in search of some improvement in their
bedrooms, or in concern over the future
of their marriages."
.. -__ x ... _ .a
en married fourteen years," laughed
an," and I think he's getting bored and
look in other fields, if you know what
belt machines, where small groups of startin to
large women talked about their prob-
lems with their children, their lets and I mean."
their husbands while their thighs, but-
tocks and upper legs were violently at-
tacked by frenzied canvas belts. their ends meet,
Aligned with the belt machines were count, count, coo
barrel-shaped machines about three feet
high, each carrel comprised of rotating THE MOTIVAT
wooden dowels upon which one pressed ing, perspiring a:
flabby upper arms, ample bottoms and as the shapes of
bulging midriffs in attempts to pummel "I'm here to g
them into model shape. "I'm hr o gr
On the bright yellow-and-brown striped years of no bre
carpet in front of this line of humming for lunch, and a
machines (referred to as "death row" by one pear-shaped
one frustrated and agonized victim), was At the mention o
a sit-up station in garish yellow plastic rolled her eyes;
designed to hold the feet in place while the direction of
, and try faithfully to
'ION for all this pound-
nd panting is as varied
the women there.
et in shape after fifteen
akfast, cottage cheese
feast for dinner," said
women in her thirties.
f the word "feast", she
and looked hungrily in
her purse, admitting
ce to the sweating
"The middle of the spacious room is left free for floor taped dentist-office music to announc
exercises. On the hour, a pleasant voice breaks into the "girls" that Happy Hour is about to beg
"My husband don't find me very
sexy," laughed a woman whose age and
waist measurement were both well into
the forties. She leaned with all her
weight against the vibrator belt that was
mercilessly flogging her inner thigh.
"I've been married fourteen years and
I think he's gettin' bored and startin' to
look in other fields, if you know what I
mean. I figured I had better do some-
thing. I've lost ten pounds already, but
he ain't noticed." She shook her head
and flipped off the machine, changing
the belt to the other leg. "If I'd 'a gain-
ed that much, he'd 'a made a crack
about me being a tub or something," she
She looked into the mirror and self-
consciously touched her teased red hair.
"Maybe I oughta frost my hair," she
muttered. "I should cut it, frost it, and
surprise him one night at dinner ."
NEAR THE FRONT DESK, a middle-
weight woman waited patiently to ex-
change her numbered plastic poker chip
for her purse. "Since coming here, I've
lost six inches around my waist, three
around each upper leg, and $190," she
said dryly. "I haven't gotten more atten-
tion from my husband except about the
bill. I don't even feel any healthier, ex-
cept that now I don't rip out my panty-
hose as much, and I can do ten leg lifts
without getting tired. But how often in
life are you asked to do ten leg lifts?
low important are they?"
She reached across the counter for her
handbag and rummaged inside. "I prob-
ably should have spent the money on a
shelf full of best sellers," she said. "I
have a fat body and a thin mind. It
should be the other way around." She
shook her head and penned her signature
at the bottom of a rersonal check in
payment for another four months of leg
Beth Nissen is on Editorial Page