I took a new fitness class today. It was recommended to me by a friend. It’s a gym that is only a block or two from my house called AeroSpace NYC (http://aerospacenyc.com). To be honest, I’ve been meaning to go for months. And this week I finally put my foot down with myself and said I had to go. And even then, I chickened out twice when I got to the front doors. Looking back on it, I have no idea why I was so stressed out about attending. I would have no problems going back – in fact, I’m currently planning to quit my regular gym and just go here.
The gym does not have any weights or machines. It’s primarily for classes, though it appears there are some private sessions there as well. The gym centers around boxing fitness. The owner is a former professional boxer. I don’t have any desire to box, but the classes sounded very intense with a low risk of injury. The classes focus on either boxing moves (doing punch and jab sequences), rope jumping, or toning using weighted bars or small dumbbells. The big inspiration is the owner, who is lean, strong, and fast.
The main part of my intimidation was the fact that most classes have some sort of jumping rope. I had a trainer in my 20’s try to get me to jump rope and it was not fun. Even if I had the coordination, within 30 seconds of successful jumping, I’m ready to heave up a lung. One of the times I had chicken out, I arrived to see a class all jumping rope in perfect unison. They were doing various foot sequences in harmony just to cement their “we’re doing something you can only dream of” status.
And the other part of my intimidation is that it’s New York. It seems like whenever you try to learn something new in NYC, you have to do it with people that have been doing that exact thing for 10 years and are pretty damn alpha about it. I really, really, really didn’t feel like being The Out-Of-Shape Guy in the back while everyone breezes through the workout.
As I raised these concerns to the friend that told me I should go, he kept saying “It’s not like that. Just go. No one can keep up. It’s okay.”
And why I didn’t believe him, I’ll never know.
The instructor/owner could not have been nicer. He came up to me before the class and introduced himself. He said that I should not try any footwork for jumping rope – just do the basics and never do more than 8 in a row until I get more comfortable. He also said that for the lunges and squats, I should make the movement as small as possible until my body says it’s ready for me. So all in all, I felt pretty good.
But what really put me at ease, was the guy in the center of the front row. He was in perfect condition – one of these hardcore Chelsea fitness buffs. And he looked like he had taken the class many times before. As we started warming up (which was quite a warm-up), he had to stop twice to recover. Within 3 minutes of the class starting, my ribs were aching and I was out of breath. I had no idea it would go that hard that quickly.
After Mr. Perfect in the front row had to stop to recover, I noticed lots of other people having to stop for a few seconds to catch their breath. And it was like that the whole class. Not a single person could follow everything. People took breathers liberally. All of a sudden I relaxed and had more fun. I had no problems taking a breather for a minute and then throwing myself back in the thick of it.
My rope jumping was not so bad. My punching was pretty good, but the instructor came over and corrected me from hyper-extending. I took a water break about 20 minutes into the class. At the 40 minute mark, I was seriously seeing stars. Even the abs section of the class – though very brief – was so intense that I could only do about 4-5 of each exercise. I’ve heard that with perseverance, you can get through the whole class without stopping. I can’t even fathom what sort of shape you have to be in for that.
What amazed me most about the instructor was his speed and agility. The punching sequences were a real wake-up call. I kept thinking that when we would start a punching sequence, that it wouldn’t be as hard as the rope jumping – but I eventually started praying for more rope jumping. I have no idea how you make all those movements for the punch sequences as fast as he does it. And I just didn’t have the mental acuity in the workout to keep doing it. Every now and then, my brain would short circuit and I’d look like a spastic muppet – limbs flailing randomly.
So, I finished. And yes, I’ve never felt so old, slow and out-of-shape in my life. But damn it was a good workout. The owner came by afterwards to shake my hand and compliment me on my jumping. I left with a feeling of “well, how could I not continue?”