Several years ago when I started working out, exercise was a very solitary affair. Sure I chatted with friends at the gym and hung out, but ultimately I was there to work out and that generally meant about forty minutes on a cardio machine watching TV or listening to music as I worked up a sweat. After that I would do weights, again, on my own and that would be that.
Many of my friends would go on and on about the classes they took and how I should try them. Whether it was Spinning or Zumba, all my friends each had “their thing” they liked to do. Me? I never wanted to take classes. And for several years I stuck to my guns with the exceptions being super small classes given at my company, but a corporate gym is quite a different animal than a public gym.
So why the reluctance? Frankly what it comes down to is not wanting to look silly in front of others. There’s a certain degree of social pressure being in a class put on me that I wasn’t ready to confront. “What if I screw up?” “What if I make an ass out of myself?” “Will people laugh at me?” All these questions ran through my head as I contemplated the 101 reason I would never take a class.
Then something curious happened. I’m not sure why exactly, but at the beginning of the summer I became positively fixated on the idea of trying out a class – but what to pick? I wasn’t coordinated, so Zumba was out. Sculpting wasn’t what I was looking for (I wanted cardio) so finally I decided to try out a class called “Pre-Season Sports Conditioning”, a class that emphasized cardio combined with fast reaction exercises. It wasn’t just about moving and sweating, it was moving and sweating with purpose!
I entered the class and stayed in the back. As the instructor took us through a warm up, I seriously felt like I was going to die. Then a few minutes later when we began the “real” workout, I started off feeling like “I can’t do this!” and then pushed myself to do it. Being in class and looking like a fool is one thing, quitting and walking out was purely unacceptable!
After the class, I felt like hell. Every muscle in my body was yelling at me like “What in the heck was THAT?!” and seriously, for two days I could barely get through my daily commute walk of two miles, no less work out more. But something else happened at the same time – I became addicted to the class. Far from being the judgemental jocks I imagined, the class was full of friendly folks, young and old. They guided me, made sure I did what I was supposed to do and even encouraged me! The class went from being a scary experience to a fun one that I looked forward to every week.
Several months later, I’m now taking several classes of this style every week, and I’ve even incorporated such exercises into my solo workouts. Working with a group has become fun, and I’m much less reluctant to walk into a class environment. Challenging myself brought a new level of self awareness (and fitness) and it’s something I encourage everyone to do. Find your own challenge and tackle it. The results may surprise you!