mad in pursuit journal


Breathless: the Aerobics Era

Somehow turning 40 didn't bother me, but when the clocked ticked on January 1, 1990, I wept. The Eighties were over. How would life ever be so exciting again?

The Eighties roughly corresponded with my thirties. I crashed out of my intellectual self and into the restless physical world -- scuba diving, weight training, skiing, and aerobic dance. The central character was Jim, the passionate whirlwind having his bumpy midlife crisis. But me... I was on my own. Solidly Susan.

Pat Drum AerobicsMy day job was fine, but when the clock chimed 4, I became part of the Pat Drum Aerobics team. It's only looking back now that I realize what a defining experience that was. Didn't think about it much then. Didn't think about being part of a Phenomenon. Women on our own, working to get things done, men on the side. (Or in our sides, those prickly thorns.)

In their youth, shy people assume that there is a magnificent extroverted world, where everyone has slews of friends and successful entrepreneurs are on every corner. It's only when you get older that you realize how rare friends are and few people are extroverts, much less entrepreneurs. But in my thirties, I didn't appreciate the rarity of a woman starting her own business and growing it into a successful network employing dozens of part-time instructors -- with no backing except her own energy and her own skill at spotting talented helpers. That was Pat.

Pat and I have been talking lately about how to tell the story of Pat Drum Aerobics. She has all the material she produced and 20 years of perspective. I started jotting down some notes, but get all wound up in my tangled memories of the era. So much to say... but I have a 7 A.M. coffee date, so... (continued...)


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