It's a bit of a running joke around the office that there are two women I am in love with/who turn me into a gawky teenage boy: the model Constance Jablonski (she is a living, breathing angel) and Caroline de Maigret, who, in case you are unaware, is a music producer and model in Paris. She is also super fucking cool, and the quintessential Parisian woman in that she eats butter and croissants, stays out "too late" sometimes, smokes cigarettes sometimes, wears practically zero makeup—especially none to hide her under-eye circles; they're 'life badges'!—and doesn't own a hair brush, and yet somehow manages to look as if she's stepped out of an Isabel Marant campaign 100% of the time. Anyway, I say all of this to set the scene: coffee at the Bowery Hotel a few weeks ago, this exemplar of French cool—fringe covering tired eyes, dressed in a slouchy white sweater and jeans—telling me she recently hired a personal trainer. That's like Christy Turlington saying she's just 'over' working out. "It was time," de Maigret explained. "But I still hate it!" She promised to write me a postcard about her new fitness regimen when she got back to Paris. Here it is.
I hate sport. I don't like watching it, I don't like doing it. Yes, I like to swim in the sea in the summer or play tennis with friends during my holidays. But that's not "sport." That's leisure once a year, for an hour. See, I've had this great chance in life of being born with good genes. I was born tall, with a pretty face (not to everyone's taste, I concede), and a thin body.
What I mean by "thin" is that whatever I would eat until the age of 30 had no effect on my weight. I could do whatever I want; I'd stay in shape without dieting or exercising. By the age of 31, my man and I decided to have a baby. One year later, Anton was born and I had gained 53 pounds. (Believe me, it's not easy to have nine months straight of chili con carne cravings!) I lost the weight very fast, and the last few pounds were finally gone nine months later. All fine.
One morning, I'd say around my 37th birthday, I saw myself in the mirror and was stunned: my body had changed! I had not seen, at all, the evolution happen, but it was there. That body, with more curves around the waist, the belly, the hips, and thighs. The skin not as toned as it used to be: I had aged.
It wasn't the easiest thing to accept, and it brought other life anxieties along the way. But once it was finally digested and understood, it was OK, and life went on. It goes on because I feel like a teenager in an adult body. I breathe young.
So here I was, having to face my new reality. I had to start exercising. (I am not going to tell you about the different membership gym cards I went through—the ones I never attended and cost me a fortune.) I hated it. Hate hate hate. "What do I care what my body looks like?"; "I'm not a Barbie doll"; "I'd rather be reading books anyway than wasting time at the gym" were going through my mind...
I then realized I was not being honest with myself. I could do both: nurture my mind and take care of my body! I just needed someone to push me because obviously I was not able to do it alone. So I met Bruno, a coach who now comes to my house twice a week. (It's a big luxury, believe me, I realize every day how lucky I am in life—this is Bruno, by the way). And it all changed. Exercising is hard, but it makes me feel so right. My mind feels so alive and sharp; my body feels toned.
That's all I'm asking for: to feel good about myself. I don't feel tired anymore although my schedule is crazy. I wake up better, I climb up stairs faster, I have less anxieties. It's quite magical, really, how good it is for the soul to feel OK in your body. (Oh please, what a cliché! But I had never guessed it was so true.)
I still pray the night before our session that Bruno's gonna call in sick in the morning, and I still have adrenaline rushes when he's five minutes late, thinking that, by chance, he might not show up. But I'm so happy at the end of the hour, to have worked so hard and to feel so good.
—Caroline de Maigret
Caroline de Maigret is a Paris-based music producer and model. Photos courtesy of the author. Read her Top Shelf here. Want to work out in Paris? Contact Caroline's trainer, Bruno, at firstname.lastname@example.org.