My search continues for a form of exercise that is both productive and enjoyable. KarenD and I have faithfully attended Pilates class since January, but we both began to feel the need for something more. We decided to try an aerobics class, which meets at the same facility and which conveniently starts thirty minutes earlier.
I’d been congratulating myself for my new healthy lifestyle of (usually) attending two classes a week. Unfortunately, after a couple of weeks of (usually) regular attendance of aerobics, I am forced to accept the reality that I am still grossly out of shape.
This is a women’s class, but aerobics is like Pilates on a major dose of testosterone. Many of the moves are similar, but intensified in speed and repetition. Class begins when the instructor turns on a CD, and blasts very up-tempo instrumental music that sounds like the audio tracks for Miami Vice. This music sets the pace for the whole class.
Many of the moves are the same as I did in Pilates: bicep curls, crunches, leg lifts. The difference is that we used to do one or two sets of eight or ten. In this class, we do five or six sets of twelve, always to the manic beat of the music. We do some exercises in sets of fifty. Usually after the first twenty-five I feel ready to die.
The thing I do not like about the class is that I am the least in-shape person in the room. This is especially embarrassing because most of the other people in the class are middle-aged ladies with pale, wrinkly skin and tired hair. And yet they keep to the beat with their giant weights, adding extra kicks and hops to our routine to make it more rigorous. I struggle to keep up with my three-pound weights, and occasionally lay flat on my mat, lifting my head and only pretending to do crunches after my abs have given out. It’s very humbling.
Despite this, I love the way this class makes me feel very powerful (when I am able to tune out the ladies around me). We do lots of kicking and punching exercises, which are even more fun than real fighting because there is no pain of impact with air the way there is with a human being or punching bag. Also, the music is quite invigorating, even as my biceps are screaming from curl number eighty-five. Most of all, I like to imagine how fit I must be getting from all this physical rigor.
Occasionally, I get tired of sweating and exerting myself, and think about returning to my formerly stagnant life. When the temptation hits me, I have to think of two things:
1. The dance that is now required to pull on my freshly washed jeans
2. The eyeful I got on the one unfortunate day I did my crunches in gym shorts–developing cellulite and varicose veins on my own youthful thighs.
And I am empowered to crunch on.