I have recently taken out a group fitness membership at the gym, after spending the majority of my life despising anything to do with exercise machines.
It’s not the exercise itself that I dislike. I just don’t like being bored. There’s a reason they put TVs above the treadmills. Group fitness, where an instructor continuously tells me what to do, was the thing for me, I decided.
I attended my first Zumba class a couple weeks ago. Zumba is a type of cardio exercise based on dance steps and set to latin music. I danced for seven years, so I figured this would be a breeze for me.
It started out fine. The music and steps were energetic and simple. It was fun. I was having a great time.
Half an hour later, the steps hadn’t gotten any less energetic. I wondered where the instructor got the energy to not only do the steps but encourage us. Couldn’t she slow down for just one song?
She didn’t let up until the end. I left the class feeling like a wrung-out rag.
I attended another class, which was described as “fun and challenging”, with “all fitness levels welcome”. A number of stations were set up, each two minutes in duration.
I started at one station. Just as I found it getting difficult, my time at it was up and I moved on to the next. After four stations, we took a break.
I liked how a break was specifically built into the class. After having some water, we resumed the circuit.
It got harder and harder as I progressed. At the skipping station, I thought about how I used to jump rope in elementary school for fun over the lunch break. I couldn’t believe I used to think it was easy. Now, I kept tripping on the rope, or getting it caught around my head. I marvelled at the endurance of my 11-year-old self.
After the circuit, the instructor had us hold the plank pose, with a completely straight body and resting on our arms and toes, for five and a half minutes. She even did it with us, looking way too excited about it. I wondered if she was having fun.
I attended another class with the same instructor. She informed us we would be doing 300 push-ups, in sets of 10 at a time.
Having learned the instructor was in her second trimester of pregnancy, I was slightly awed by her strength, realizing she carried another person inside her. She did the entire workout with us, and did it significantly better than me.
My arms ache now, but it’s an oddly satisfying ache, the same way the bruises I got from practising certain dance steps over and over were satisfying. I’m still working towards enjoying my time at the gym (actually, I did find the Zumba class fun), but one thing is certain – it isn’t boring.