“Hot Bod” is a weekly exploration of fitness culture and its adjacent oddities.
My favorite ways to exercise — biking, dancing, rebounding, jumping jacks as commanded by a stern hunk — are notably bouncy ways to move. This does not complement the constitution of someone who also loves a generous breakfast, which I do. So it is my thrice weekly, personal tragedy that I must exercise before my big breakfast, on a growly, empty stomach. This unfortunately only suits me metabolically, not spiritually. My worldview could probably be reduced to the belief that there’s a treat that goes with almost everything.
And I’ve found it, my treat for first-thing workouts, my bribe and joy: effervescing hydration tablets. These fitness focused drink tabs — like the sporty Nuun or Skratch Labs, or the CBD-infused cool-kid-of-the-pack Offfield — target athletes who need a serious recovery aid during their serious, hardcore triathlete training. But through personal experimentation, I’ve learned that these tabs are totally great if you’re a normal person who had three glasses of wine last night and wakes up to do a medium-energy cardio dance class for 35 minutes. The tablets all have electrolytes, that legendary elusive element, which does seem best displayed by a quiet explosion in a water bottle. Then other ingredients like flavor, salt, caffeine, vitamin C vary. Most contain a Stevia-like sugar substitute, unfortunately. They’re all reviving, all almost guaranteed to break the fog of the morning mood.
Effervescence wakes a person up, I can’t explain this but it does. It’s not quite bracing— just the step before that. Its gentle, rising bubbles, like the rising sun, are also very spiritually suited to the early morning: nothing too intense, nothing too flavorful. The “nothing” quality is a little desirable actually; this fizz is light and supportive, like if styrofoam was drinkable. The tab’s ability to create bubbling from nothing but flat, still water: it’s practically instructive for movement.
It does seem a little insulting to the depths of my sleepiness that these tabs are enough to bribe me out of bed, but I’ve never thought that I’m my whole complex self in the morning. I’m more like a scowling draft of myself with grumpier eyebrows and no sense of humor. And the promise of drinks has usually been enough motivation to get me somewhere I don’t want to go, though usually the drinks are of the upper/downer variety. But when my alarm rudely proposes that I leave my bed an hour earlier than I need to, just to do something that I theoretically love — at a moment when I feel certain that I don’t really love anything other than the soft envelope of sheets and blankets — the promise of this little sparkly, often citrusy drink is just enough of a treat. The Champagne of unspectacular mornings!
They’re also much easier on my stomach than my previous first drink: stomach-scraping drip coffee. When I was 20 percent more type A than I am now and I went to spin classes at like six thirty in the morning, I’d always buy myself a big coffee from the closest place that was open. I’d shove the coffee in the bike’s water bottle holder and earn myself withering sneers from whoever was next to me. I think most people who get up that early to be fit don’t seem to believe in treats or aids of any sort. They live off of their own will power and forbearance. They sweat pure fortitude.
And I was sweating dank dark roast probably, so I guess I understand their glares. I do assume this judgement is cultural — my dad did bike tours in France in the 1980s and ’90s and says the French riders would slam espressos and Cognac in shot glasses, at every stop, at all hours, and actually would roundly make fun of my Dad for being “très Américan,” a quality revealed by his habit of drinking water mixed with powdered Gatorade. I wish I could see what they thought of this American calling my electrolyte drink morning champagne!