Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Stepping Down

I hadn't really put a lot of thought into attending the step class at the gym. It was just another class I intended to try out. Still, after being at the gym for about a month and enjoying lots of other group fitness classes, the step class had eluded me. Today, however, the step class was on my agenda.

The mere fact that it took me so long to even get into one of these classes should've been my first sign. But upon walking into the room and viewing the row upon row of steps already set up, I should've taken my second obvious sign and high tailed it out of there. "Wow. This class must really be full!" I commented to a lady standing next to me. "Oh - it's not too bad. Each person actually needs three steps; that's why there's so many steps set up." "OK, then. . ." I thought to myself as I considered how in the world one might actually NEED three steps for one class. Still, I refused to be intimidated. Other people were participating in this class, so it couldn't be too terrible, right? After all, I had done step before (about five years before, to be precise) and I figure it'd come back to me, thus giving me a "step up" (excuse the pun) from being a complete novice.

The instructor clipped on her microphone and began with some basic instructions. "Let's just start stepping in place" she suggested, her voice amplified a tad louder than I was really comfortable with. "Fine and dandy with me" I thought as I marched in place feeling like an old pro. She led the group through a couple of simple steps, and then she began to "build on the basics." This is where things began getting a bit difficult for me.

My third sign came when the instructor began leading the group in a series of steps moving around the side of the box. I was so tuned in to her instructions that I somehow failed to notice the step immediately beside me. As I stepped around the side of the box, my foot landed partially on the box beside me, and down, down, down I went - almost the way you'd imagine Paul Bunyan falling. . I can still see it in slow motion in my mind, and let me tell you, this was NO little fall! This was a full on bottom to back, complete with a roll kind of fall. I landed in the middle of four steps which happened to be in the middle of the room. I could here women around me gasping as they caught sight of my dramatic tumble. Quick as a wink and trying to hide my embarrassment, I laughingly got back up. The instructor, however, having missed the whole thing but beginning to notice her students staring and gasping in my direction picked up on what had happened. "Oh, no big deal!" her voice boomed over the speakers, "Someone always falls in my class" she commented almost proudly. I smiled and tried to stay positive by convincing myself this was really quite comical.

I continued on the step trying my darndest to follow her directions, but her "building on the basics" had left me in the dark. I pretty much just walked around trying to move the same direction as the group, but completely missing the form or workout part of it. There was one other new woman in the room, and she happened to be next to me. Initially we both looked at each other laughing at how ridiculous we knew we looked. As the class progressed, however, our little funny glances turned into rolling eyes and raised eyebrows as we considered the instructor's sanity.

The instructor's voice was so loud I had a hard time even comprehending what she was saying as she belted out her commands, "BASIC, HIGH-DEE, KNEE, KNEE, KICK, OVER, NEIGHBOR, BASE, HIGH-DEE, BASIC!!!". I was totally lost, and what was worse was that about half of the time the class was actually facing the rear of the room where I was positioned centrally (initially assuming I'd chosen a discreet spot to brush up on my moves). Several times I just stood staring as the class faced me performing all of their various antics. I felt sort of like a conductor overseeing an orchestra - appearing to be involved by my mere placement, but in reality, having nothing to do with the creative process.

It was at about this point I considered the various signs which I had overlooked in the name of "giving the class a try." I kept glancing at the clock, but by my fifth clock check, the class still was not even half over. I assumed there would be more "building on the basics" from here - a lot I was not prepared to plow through. While I'm not typically one to just walk out of a class halfway through, by this time even I could see I was just wasting my time. I tried to consider how to tactfully escape the room unnoticed. The worst possible scenario would be for the instructor to call attention to my exigence or to even encourage me to keep at it. I decided to play coy, and pretended like I was just heading over to get a drink. As I drank from my water bottle the class faced the rear of the room again - observing my blatant break. I knew this was no time for indecisiveness, so the moment the group faced the front of the room again, I booked it for the nearest door.

While I knew I hadn't escaped unnoticed, I'd at least succeeded in getting out without any unnecessary attention being drawn to myself. I felt my heart racing as I glanced back through the glass at the class whirling and jumping around; I wasn't out of breath from my workout - I was out of breath from the rush of quitting it. I boarded a treadmill to begin a quick jog - a real workout. From where I was located, I could take some quick backwards glances towards the step room; I lurked intermittently - scoffing at the insanity of the class itself and even those who chose to participate in it. Eventually, I was satisfied to see the other new lady who had been next to me make her move - her quiet exit from the class.

My conclusion is that workouts should be fun and actually WORK OUT your body (go figure. . ). I'm not a dancer, and I can't follow choreography - but I can get a clue about what NOT to do in the future. As for me, I'm 100% satisfied with my decision to step out of and permanently step down from step class.

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