It’s 5:30 pm on a Monday night at my gym. Monday evening and Saturday morning fitness classes are the busiest. I should know this because I worked in this industry for over 27 years. You should know this, too…right?
After a weekend of perhaps eating and drinking too much (big assumption here about youth, but go with it), the gym rats and all the rest of us have to hit it hard.
The fitness studio is starting to get packed with mostly younger; I’m guessing 30-year-olds. Women dominate the group, tightly clad in spandex, racer back and other tight tops, and neon shoes. The few men who brave this class seem to come in small packs, and stick together toward the back of the room.
The instructor is a real pro, and known for her drill-like, but nurturing style (is this even possible?).
The class is called Total Body Blast. Hmmm – first clue. The class agenda is actually written on the huge mirrors at the front of the room.
Three columns are scrawled in bold black Sharpie:
Each column contains five different types of (torturous) exercises which must be performed for 30-45 seconds. Then, we have to transition quickly onto the next set of exercises.
Our arsenal of equipment includes a step, two sets of weights and a mat for the core and floor exercises. The blaring music is a combination of disco favorites, hip hop and good ‘ole rock ‘n roll tunes; all clearly re-mixed to accommodate a fitness class beat.
Here’s a taste of Round One: burpees (look those up if you don’t know) for 45 seconds, then on to standing bicep curls for 30 seconds, then down on the mat for bicycle abs for 45 seconds.
Everyone seems to swiftly and skillfully transition from setting their weights down to lying on their backs and gracefully moving their legs in a bicycle motion while twisting their upper body from side to side.
I’m watching them as I bend myself down toward the floor mat, then swing my legs out from under me just to lie on my back. My body seems to be in slow motion compared to others. I’m also trying not to bump into the unsuspecting girls around me who have already made it down to their mats. Oh, time to get up.
My jumping days are behind me, so I ‘modify’ the next exercise of jumping jacks by toe-tapping the top of the step. Thankfully, I spot another older women also choosing to modify. I see her at the club frequently. Her posture isn’t great, and her make-up is heavy. She always wraps a small towel tightly around her neck. It looks like a neck brace.
We were 6 minutes into the 45-minute class, and I was planning my escape. I was positioned close to the dumbbell tins, so I could easily and quietly dispose of them. But, then I would have to make my way across the room to put away my step. The humiliation of weaving my way through the flailing bodies of dedicated, sweaty people who, I’m pretty certain just worked all day, was more powerful than the 39 minutes of pain yet to endure.
What did I do today? I fought with a failed cake recipe, chunky hummus, and a bag of pine nuts that broke open on me while shopping at Trader Joe’s.
So, on to shoulder presses. As I struggle with my own shoulder presses, I watch the only young man who placed himself in front of the mirror. He has a set of 8–lb. dumbbells, and is moving just a beat behind the music. He cradles one of the weights on his shoulder, up near and under his chin. His shoulders move up and down as they should; except he is without arms.
The young girl in the pink racer back top moves her fat covered arms gracefully during the shoulder press. She also struggles to get to the mat for our 45 seconds of push-ups.
We all made it through three more rounds of cardio, core and muscle exercises.
I didn’t care that my back was tight. I felt great. Ask me if I’ll go back to this particular battlefield.
Author: Lauren Vaught from Edible Musings spent almost 28 years as Human Resources Director. Planned early retirement in 2011 wasn’t an easy transition as she found herself aimlessly wandering around our condo, with nothing to do. She quickly realized how much she enjoyed creating and cooking delicious and (so she thought) healthy meals. She was always bloated, and felt sluggish after the meat-centric meals. Several months later, a friend told her about the Engine 2 Diet, the Esselstyn’s and T. Colin Campbell’s China Study, which led her to watch Forks Over Knives. The very next day, she threw out all processed junk and loaded her kitchen with whole, real and plant-based foods. She and her husband both lost weight, have more energy than they did in their 30’s and her husband is off all his meds! She completed the Center for Nutrition Studies Plant Based Nutrition Course through Cornell University and, at almost 60 years of age, she feels invincible, proud and wanting very much to pay forward all that she’s learned.