Eva Martinez can always come up with at least two good excuses not to take time out to exercise.
She's the single mother of an energetic 3-year-old daughter, Jacqueline (Jacqui), who like most toddlers would like all of her mother's attention. At her job as a receptionist for Buchalter, Nemer, Fields & Younger, a downtown Los Angeles law firm, Martinez, 22, fields about 200 telephone calls a day and sometimes would like to collapse on the couch after commuting to her West Covina condominium.
Most days, though, she doesn't give in to inertia. The statuesque brunette, a Size 7, tries to work out every day.
Two days a week she heads to the downtown Nautilus Aerobics Plus right after work, relying on her mother, Elizabeth Salgado of La Puente, to take care of Jacqui during the workout. "I couldn't do the workouts without Grandma," Martinez said appreciatively.
At the gym, Martinez participates in an aerobic-exercise class, either advanced or low impact, and does weight-training, often accompanied by a fellow employee.
On Saturday mornings she heads to a gym near her home for another workout, taking Jacqui along to play in the child-care center there.
On other nights, Martinez includes her daughter in the workouts. She takes a home rebounder--akin to a mini-trampoline--from her closet, places it in the middle of the living room and pops dinner in the oven. Then she and her daughter start bouncing, sometimes accompanied by a 3-year-old neighbor boy. The kids sometimes lose interest within a few minutes and go off to play, but Martinez keeps at it for an hour or more.
On some weekends, if her daughter is at Grandma's, Martinez will roller-skate from Redondo Beach to Santa Monica, a trip that she depends on occasionally to melt away the stresses of work and motherhood. And on Sundays she plays softball in the company league, taking Jacqui along to watch and play with other children.
Martinez has followed the same basic aerobic-exercise routine for the last four years, adding rebounding about six months ago. One motivation is weight control.
"I got up to 200 pounds during my pregnancy," she recalled, "and had 40 pounds to lose after the baby was born." Now she holds the line at 135-140 pounds, which she considers ideal for her 5-foot-9 frame.
"According to the charts, I should be 150 pounds," added Martinez, who often moonlights as a fashion model during the Christmas season.
She also depends on exercise, especially the weight-training sessions, to help undo the effects of on-the-job inactivity. "Since I sit all day, I get 'secretary spread,' so I work a lot on my hips and thighs."
She also watches her diet. "But I'm not a health-food fanatic. I sneak in my candy bars and eat my M&Ms like everyone else." Still, she has her rules: "If I work out in the evening, lunch is my last meal." And on nights when she does eat dinner, she tries never to eat after 7 p.m.
Martinez hopes her example will inspire her daughter to become as interested in fitness as she is. "She's real athletic already," she said. "But then, she has no choice."
The rebounder workouts have other rewards, Martinez said with a laugh. There's no bedtime stalling on Jacqui's part. "After the rebounding, she's really tired. She goes right to sleep."
Another reward of exercise, Martinez believes, is good health. "I'm rarely sick," she said, "and I think exercise plays a role."
So strong is her motivation to exercise that she has become a master of improvisation. When her car broke down recently and she couldn't make it to the gym, she strapped one end of a belt around her wrist, tied the other end to her daughter's bike handlebars, put on her roller-skates and took off. "It ended up being a great workout," she said with a laugh. And if she's missed an aerobic-exercise class, she'll sometimes invite a friend over, turn on an upbeat tape and do "emergency aerobics" in the living room.
Occasionally, she admitted, she does slough off.
"But I get to feeling really guilty." And she knows that she'll head back to the gym--or the rebounder--the next day.
Fitting in Fitness
EVA MARTINEZ Age: 22
Regimen: Three aerobic-exercise classes, three weight-training sessions, four rebounder sessions, occasional roller-skating sessions, one softball game a week.
Fitness motivation: "I love being in shape. I don't like going to the beach and seeing what I want to look like."