Saturday, November 22, 2008

Change hurts for good

My Saturday morning aerobics class is one of my favorite activities of the weekend. It's a "low impact" class, said to be good for all fitness levels -- meaning that those who are overweight, out of shape or getting on in years can participate without requiring an ambulance on stand-by. It is led by a mid-50s looking fellow named Steve.

The routine each week is fairly predictable. Some warm up and stretching, 40 minutes of choreographed bouncing around to thumping remixes of tunes from Three Dog Night, Tina Turner and Fleetwood Mac, about 10 minutes of abs, and some stretching. The occasional newcomer catches on fairly quickly and we regulars don't really need Steve to tell us when to turn to the left, turn to the right or pivot to the back. If I choose to alter it at all, it's to add a little more bounce to my step during Proud Mary or Oye Como Va. I leave a little sweaty but feeling quite successful in having managed the steps, and maybe a little cocky about having been able to put more effort into the routine than some of my more elderly classmates.

Today, however, Steve was out of town, and a substitute named Michelle had been engaged to fill in. Michelle is a couple of decades younger, about as big around as a pipe cleaner and a lot more enthusiastic than the sardonic Steve. She played techno-disco music instead Pointer Sisters, and her definition of low impact clearly differs from Steve's.

She also did different steps, in different order, and with a different sort of count -- I can't quite explain it, but her correlation of limb movements to 1-2-3-4 had me a half-beat off through most of the routine. She had us marching forward and backward at different times and doing grapevines in different directions than normal, sending several of us left when we were supposed to go right and bumping into each other throughout the workout. It was a bit chaotic, compared to the predictable class it is when Steve holds the microphone.

Today, I left a whole lot sweaty and not at all cocky. I already know I will hurt tomorrow -- I can tell I used different muscles, in different ways.

But it's the sort of hurt that comes with accomplishment, like chasing cobwebs away, like moving in a different, better (or at least interesting) direction. The sort of hurt that's good for you. I'll be glad when Steve returns and my Saturday order is restored, but today it felt good to change it up a bit, and I'm better for it.

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