“Join a gym,” my doctor tells me. “Get some cardiovascular exercise.”

My stomach sinks. I am not a “gym person”. The weights, the machines, the infernally cheerful fit people. The protein powder. It’s all very intimidating to a small, puny creature like myself.

“But what about the classes?” Gym People helpfully remind me. “Classes are so fun!” 

Ok, let’s break this down – Exercise Class. Exercise is only “fun” if you’re a Gym Person. And Class – no one links “fun” with that word. It’s all learning, desks, and homework.

Aerobic classes are labs for motor skills evolution, shaking out the uncoordinated and awkward, creating ideal Gym People for the fitness environment. This is not “fun”. This is survival of the fittest.

So how did I end up in this BodyPump class?

I’m 5 minutes early and already the room is nearly full. Weights and strange objects are piled neatly in front of each person.

Turn around. A tiny voice inside me suggests. Run, before the music starts!

I am frozen. This is what a deer feels like, having stumbled into a class for lions.

“Um, this is my first BodyPump class,” I say to the shortest person I can find. “What is all this stuff?”

“Don’t worry, I’ll set you up!” She bounds cheerfully to the back of the room, arms loaded with blocks, weights, a ball…

Dear Lord, what’s that strap for??

In five seconds she has set me up a fitness nest of my own, complete with a pale purple bench suspended by pink and blue blocks. She smiles at me encouragingly as the instructor turns up the music.

The instructor wears a headset with a tiny microphone. She shouts out instructions, calling out people by name. Weights are moving up and down, strong legs are squatting, music is pumping. I haven’t picked up a weight bar in about 7 years. I’m doing it all wrong. She comes up to me, shouts instructions I can’t sort out. Manually manipulating my arms, she gives me a quick nod and goes back to shouting at the class.

Between sets I look around the room and observe. Everyone is smiling. Smiling! They are having a fabulous time.

My muscles are screaming. The shouting and club music reverberates in my head. I’m bending, pumping, flailing. I look at the clock – 30 more minutes to go!

You’ll never make it through. The tiny voice gets snippy. You’re almost dead now. I tried to warn you.

The rest of the class is a blur. I am certain that each new set will be the one that kills me. But something in me just won’t quit. And suddenly, it’s over.

I’m laughing. I don’t know why. Relief, maybe. Mild hysteria.

Later, my husband looks up from his laptop and grins. “How did it go?”

“I’m already sore.”

He laughs. As a personal trainer, he finds physical pain amusing.

“But you know what? It was kind”

He raises his eyebrows.

Gym People. Who can understand them?


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