Thursday, June 29, 2017

It's never too late to change

At the gym named after the clock, I got off my stationary bike and walked briskly to the front to see if I could locate more 2.5 pound hand-weights. I wasn't instructing this particular class, but we instructors often work together to help members achieve their fitness goals and we suddenly had more people arrive than we had weights.

I found a few in the stretching area and came back and at the door was a man watching the class. He appeared to be maybe 10 years older than me. I asked him to come and join us, as we had at least one bike left. "Oh, no, I think this is beyond my ability. I think I'll just stick to the recumbent bikes out on the main floor."

We exchanged a few more words where I explained that it is never too late to give it a go and that seeing the class is quite strenuous, he could come in and give it 10 minutes sometime. Well, it turns out he was 80 years old. Now he looked dang good for 80. In fact, he looked good for 75, but he was right. It was too much for him... at that time.

90% of people who venture into what we call a Group-X class is not prepared for what happens in the next hour. I know I wasn't when I first began and I thought I was in good shape. I took my first Spin class (stationary bike) about 3 years ago and this was after hitting the treadmill and elliptical machines 5 times a week. I figuratively crashed and burned every class for the first 6 months.

Now let me clarify this, because it sounds like the class is too demanding. The class is as hard as you make it. Being a competitive person, I felt like if I couldn't do every little bit that the instructor asked, I failed. When they said "give the resistance knob half a turn", I did. Every single time and usually 20 minutes into the hour, I looked at the clock and prayed for it to get moving. It took me 6 months of 2 times a week before I could "hang" and that is when I realized how much I loved spinning. Never mind that 80% of the people around me were half my age.

Spinning is the ultimate cardio Group X class, but you don't have to do the full 60 minutes wide open to benefit from it. You do not have to spend months preparing to make that first visit either, but using the treadmill and elliptical machines prior to attempting your first class will give you a measure of your fitness and boost our confidence.

Make no mistake, walking through those glass doors the first time is dadgum intimidating, but if you have an instructor worth their salt, they will welcome you inside and get you set up on a bike. This is crucial because if the bike is not adjusted for your body, you will either work yourself to death, or possibly get hurt. After I've helped a person get the adjustments just right, I always ask them to take a photo of the settings, "So the next time you come in and adjust the seat, you will look like a pro."
I took my first Zumba class last Saturday at a Group X Instructor event in Midtown and for 45 minutes, I did something that only slightly resembled Zumba - but I did it and was pretty danged proud of myself.  I'm not a dancer.  I'm a linear karate guy. This makes me look like a robot or an Egyptian when I try to do circular movements, like Salsa or Rumba. The good part is everyone in the room was an instructor of some discipline and all of us who aren't dancers looked like spastics. It was a blast and I laughed the whole class.

Since my neck became a medical problem, I've had to stop lifting weights for the most part and seeing I do not need weight lifting for my lower half, I decided to try Zumba for more cardio, flexibility, and just plain exercise. Now here is the intimidation factor I talked about and even though I instruct in this Group X environment, walking into a Zumba class to participate brings a certain amount of anxiety, even for me.

Now add in the fact that it is basically an all-female class, and this bumps it up considerably. Well, at my home gym, I know many of the ladies and they were happy to have me embarrass myself, so I went this past Monday and took a full hour with Emily Haynie at command. Wow!  I sweated a lot and like I realized last Saturday, it is all about the feet and having fun.

Is it too late in life to take something like this on you ask (and you stand staring at yourself in the mirror).  The answer is no.  It is not. The first step and the hardest part is walking into that gym and inside the gym are many doors.  You simple walk through them one at a time.

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