Worry not, friends: the derision implicit in this title is directed solely at this writer. Until recently, I’d been one of those people who never “worked out” with any kind of structure and secretly believed that the inordinate amount of exercise I got in the first 20 years of my life were still giving me some kind of residual benefit. (Note: this is not true.)
I played a lot of sports in childhood and was perfectly mediocre at all of them: soccer, softball, basketball, dance (tap and jazz!), running cross country and track. Still, once I entered the college years, I stopped participating in any organized sport and was completely unequipped to conceive or execute my own exercise regimen. Sure, I’d go through little spurts of motivation once in a while and jump on the elliptical for a few weeks or months at a time, but that was about it.
I should mention that I have at least two legitimate handicaps. First, I have a bad knee, and when I say bad, I mean it in the sense that it misbehaves. Basically, my kneecap thinks it’s too good for its home, as if somewhere along the line it decided that the outside of my leg was a more desirable place than the front of my knee. Second, as previously discussed, I have scoliosis. This doesn’t just affect my back; it throws my entire body off kilter and makes me more prone to injury. Arguably, the scoliosis could be a factor in my knee problems. (Which is neat!)
So when the guy I married decided to start going to the gym a few months ago, I responded with a shrug and burrowed deeper under my couch blankie. However, it wasn’t long before I became jealous of his near-instant results. (If I were to be evaluated by some kind of corporate training person, I’d most certainly be labeled as results-oriented.) Within a few weeks of starting his not-arduous, thrice-weekly workout routine, Mr. McDoogal was noticing muscle definition, and I wanted in.
This isn’t a regular gym, mind you. It’s classes-only, and the room we work out in reminds me a little of the dance studios of my youth, only with more torture devices exercise equipment, such as resistance bands, little sandbag things with straps, kettlebells, and boxing gloves. I’ve been attending Fusion classes, which fuse (get it!?) cardio and strength training. The instructor is really hands-on, has a great memory, and will do extra things like measure your progress and give you nutrition tips. It’s like Curves, only co-ed and with more inappropriate music. (Sample lyric: “Call me Mr. Flintstone/I can make your bed rock”)
We do one-minute circuits of increasingly painful stations like”¦ I dunno, jump squats, or crunches while holding a kettlebell to your chest, or perhaps running away from the wall and touching the floor with a stretchy band strapped on your shoulders like a backpack. (Side note: that last one is a bad idea for uncoordinated jerks. Did I run too far on my first try and get snapped backwards, falling on my ass in front of the entire class? Why, yes I did!) You have no idea how long a minute is until you spend many of them doing a horrible exercise while the chirpy, ridiculously fit dude in the front of the room shouts encouraging things at you.
But, though I hate it while I’m doing it, the second it’s over, and the obscene music is turned down, and we’re slowly stretching our tired muscles, I instantly brighten and think that it wasn’t so bad. Also, the results are tangible. I still have really weak arms, and the new muscles are still largely invisible to the untrained eye, but they’re there. Not to mention that I’ve noticed my skin no longer turning a horrible shade of purple in the middle of my workouts. And my increased strength is starting to pay off in my real life. Last weekend, I went on an epically long bike ride on the Jersey shore that would have been more or less impossible on my formerly-wimpy legs.
So far I haven’t had any injuries; once in a while, though, my right hip (which is my “bad” side) hurts and I have to do some extra stretching. And there are some nights I get home from my day job, squeeze in some Persephone time, and the last thing I want to do is run off to the gym after 7 p.m. But so far, that’s what I’ve been doing.
I’d recommend this class-style of exercise to people like me who really don’t feel confident that they can build and execute their own workouts. The class environment is really encouraging, even when there are a range of experience levels and you’re on the low end. In a small, well-organized class, the instructor can help you modify a certain exercise to make it easier or harder for you. And the social/support aspect can’t be ignored. We all engage in some light-hearted complaining and verbal abuse at our instructor, which helps the more difficult minutes go by faster.
5 replies on “We Try It! Actually Exercising”
I think that kind of class is good for everyone. My two gym friends and I can figure out stuff to do every time we go in, but sometimes it’s nice to have someone just tell you what to do, to have a set amount of time, and to learn new stuff you haven’t tried before. Also you get access to extra equipment you might not otherwise get to use. AND you can look goofier without it mattering. There are almost no cons!
It’s funny, every time I get on a regular workout routine, I feel great, I have tons of energy, and then I just… stop. I don’t know why that is, but it’s really way too easy for me to get out of the habit.
Bahahaha, this – this is me. Except I have no medical issues that get in the way (dammit!).
So, last month my mom says, “I want to run in this such-and-such 5K. Do it with me.” “Oh, yeah, sure. I can jog 3.something miles. No prob.” (granted, I hadn’t actually run 3 miles in like 6 months)
Last weekend she asks me again (we’re a forgetful group, we can have the same conversation three times without issue), “So, it’s on the 12th, you still in?” “Oh yeah, it should be fine. I’ll have just finished my final that Friday so that will be nice.” “Are you working out, have you gone running yet?” “Oh, no. I think I can jog it. No biggie.” “Jog?! I don’t want to jog it! I’m in it to win it!” (this is where my competitiveness comes from, yes Mom is actually aware) “In it to win it?! No way. I don’t win any running events.” “well…” So, I don’t think I’m going to be running a 5K thus Sunday.
She’s going to be coming after me though, I know it. I’m going to have to actually go running – like, hard, to make her happy. Why couldn’t I have a sibling to pass this off onto? dammit. But maybe a class will help get me in the spirit? Get my cardio up?
(also, good luck! I hope you get the results you want!)
Timely. I have a six-week gym voucher, and with a stress fracture/generally banjaxed foot, a gym is pretty much the only place I’ll get exercise. Thanking you!
I really love circuit classes like what you’re describing – my muscles get just enough rest during the cardio parts that I’m ready for more strength work, and the ones I’ve done are usually exhausting in a satisfying way. Certain classes just leave me tired and grouchy, but I really like when I can get both cardio and strength training in at once, and I always feel like I’ve really accomplished something. And it’s so encouraging when you can see the changes in your body and see how you’re getting stronger, like you mentioned. :)