Italy is My Boot Camp

My Italian home.

I can see binario 2 est in the distance, about two miles away. The race is on. A marathon-sized crowd rushes to get seats on the train from Rome to Florence, likely a rare commodity since the earlier train was cancelled, without explanation. ‘My fitness will pay off today,’ I confidently reassure myself, noting that half of my competition consists of old ladies, including one nun in full navy habit. Despite her short legs, she is moving at quite a clip, with shapely calves bulging through opaque white hose. At a disadvantage with a 50 pound suitcase to pull and a 20 pound backpack to carry, I renew my efforts, making a steamboat like huffing noise as I pass the sturdy Sister. After clumsily heaving my Swiss Gear luggage into the second-class car, I push toward and then collapse into one of the last seats, sweat dripping down my neck. ‘The gym is my religion, bitch!’ I think triumphantly, while the red-faced nun stands in the aisle. This arrogant act will no doubt cost me more time in purgatory, but it was worth it. Bring on the cleansing hell fire, I say, as I ease the seat back and start peeling a hard boiled egg.

Italy is a continually challenging obstacle course, and I have lost 5 pounds during my first week here. I have also been eating moderately and deliberately working out, following Fitbabe’s plan. Yesterday, for instance, I did ten 20-second high intensity interval hill climbs up by the University of Georgia campus in Cortona and then the back and bi regime pasted below, using my inflatable balance ball as a bench and filled water bottles for weights (thanks to a facebook fan for that suggestion!):


1/ Dumbbell bent over row (light) 3 x 20

2/ Exercise Ball dumbbell pullover 3 x 20

3/ Band face pull ( attach to something) 3×20

4/ Burpees 3 x 30 seconds

(do 1-4 and then repeat 3 times)


1/exercise band curl 3×20

2/exercise ball incline dumbbell curl 2×20

3/mountain climbers 3×30 seconds

(do 1-3 and then repeat 3 times)

For the most part, however, simply being in Italy is keeping me in shape. I work my quads by regretfully hovering over fetid train toilets, adding some core work by simultaneously holding the unlockable doors shut with both arms. My upper body is improved by hand washing clothes in the sink, and then by the motion of wringing them out with all my might. [Aside: Unused to the art of air drying, today I was forced to blow dry a thong. Hopefully I will not be paying extra for electricity]. I have no fears about losing leg muscle while in Cortona. Here is the street leading up to my apartment, one of the less steep inclines in town, though it does not appear as such in this photo. I often find myself bent over at a 90 degree angle, grunting ‘meh, meh, meh’ as I carry groceries home or pay homage to the hilltop corpse of a medieval saint.

In short, I love it here. My rented flat is amazingly large and I look forward to welcoming three sets of guests, if they can actually find me in this medieval maze of unmarked streets. I am posting some images of what they can expect, in addition to the continual glute burn:

Jesus is saddened…

By what you are thinking of doing in this bed. He can’t even look at you right now.

The Madonna forgives you…

but asks that you reside in this more chaste arrangement.

Pope Giovanni XXIII suggests that as penance for your manifold sins, you pray for world peace, alongside Bobby and John.

You do that. In the meantime, I will be skipping rope in the piazza. Salve.

View from the sad Jesus room.

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About feministfiguregirl

I am a 51-year-old professor named Lianne McTavish who receives as much satisfaction from working out at the gym as from publishing my academic research. About eight years ago, I decided to combine my two primary identities (scholar/gym rat) to create "Feminist Figure Girl," a fictional character who both analyzes and participates in bodybuilding. I competed in my first figure show in June of 2011, and then wrote a book inspired by the process, published by SUNY Press in February 2015. In this blog I will write about and consider my ongoing research on the body, while regularly making fun of myself. I recommend that you start reading my first post from August 2010 (available on the home page), instead of backwards from the most recent one, in order to get the full FFG effect.

5 thoughts on “Italy is My Boot Camp

  1. Excellent. I’m very pleased to know that you are enjoying Cortona’s medieval tortures in the most appropriate fashion – like an apostate Catholic only can.
    All joking aside, a very close friend of mine spent time there over a decade ago with the U of A anthro program and said you’d love it, particularly since the level of amenities has increased dramatically during the between time.
    Looking forward to hearing more about your adventures!

  2. Nice posts. The random minutia captures some of the ambience nicely. You have reminded me of a poem I wrote last year for Nat. Poetry Month. You may enjoy it more for being there. Anyway, a gift. Ciao.

    26. a traversiamo

    The tenor rises
    from the restaurant on the street below
    and the shadow of the wrought iron foot board
    haunts my wall – a spider shadow cast by the streetlight;
    the red infusion that drenches the canvas
    is the hue of my Chianti broadcast
    by the flickering candle behind it.

    I am alone, but I am not lonely.
    At lunch the coloratura was lovely,
    more lovely than the spaghetti alla carbonara
    which was superb. For now it is dolce far niente
    Tomorrow will be Naples – and pizza!
    Somewhere my memory Sophia
    lounges in black lace, curvy, warm, seductive
    a vision redolent of all that is good about Italy.

    trash those tris!

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