When I first started working at the MNJCC, as the Administration and Production Coordinator for the Al Green Theatre, I was most excited for my free gym membership. I had been a member at the MNJCC in the past, but had slowly stopped going to the gym, and then stopped paying for the gym- but I was ready to start again.
I have always been keen on getting into “the zone” when I work out- with a background in dance, my attitude toward physical activity is that you go in to work, learn, concentrate and improve. It’s not a place to socialize or be silly or laugh. I have also always been keen on taking classes. Again, coming from a dance background, I like the group environment- it allows you to learn from others, watch them and see how and where you can improve. It allows you to go through an exercise, or series of exercises with a qualified instructor who can guide you through the proper technique and placement. I have not always been so keen on weight lifting. My mother, also a dancer and overall fitness nut, would always say to me, when I would tell her about my dance classes: “but what are you doing for strength training?” And I would reply with “I do 10 push ups in dance class! On my knees… and I usually only do five… and by five I mean three or four…” So I got the hint- I needed to do more strength training. And this is how I found Group Power. A class-setting, with music and counts, but instead of grapevine-ing across the room with a clap at the end, you were lifting weights. For an hour. A freaking hour.
The first class I went to was INTENSE. I used a very small amount of weight for all exercises, and still felt sore for about a week after. But I was excited to go back. I have now been attending Group Power classes quite regularly for a while. All the benefits that I expected are there- I’ve definitely gotten stronger, I’ve learned proper technique and form, I have learned from others. Oh and my mom has gotten off my back (a little bit…) But there are also the benefits that I wasn’t expecting, and these are what make this class so special to me.
There’s the fact that the room is full of inspiration for me. The classes are predominantly women, and a lot of the women are older than me. A lot of them talk about their grandchildren as we wait for class to begin. And then class starts, and they’re lifting more weight than I am, and they’re making it look easy! Heck, they’re making it look FUN! I was always intimidated to lift weights, assuming that anyone who lifted weights was a macho-guy, drinking a protein shake and grunting loudly in the free weights area of the gym. But I’m not intimidated now, now I feel empowered, confident and eager to get stronger. I see that anyone can do it, not just the macho guy in the free weights area.
And then there are the instructors who, as with most group classes, really make or break the experience. All of these instructors definitely MAKE the experience. Singing along to the songs, cracking jokes, complimenting participants, helping out any new participants- group exercise classes with them are different than anything I have ever experienced. I no longer feel the need to get in “the zone,” to tune out what is going on around me, to take it all so seriously. And I’ve realized that laughing and smiling while you work out makes it that much more fun!
My gym membership has offered me so much more than I thought it could. And I have learned a lot more than I thought I would. And I can now lift only marginally less weights than the majority of grandparents that work out here. And I am okay with that!