In my athletic progression, before there was running, there was…aerobics classes. Yup, in my last two years of high school, I was at the New Canaan YMCA twice a week, grapevining and step-touching. At 5’ 11” I stood out in a bunch of ways, most notably by always being at least a step or a beat behind. I might as well have inked “big dork” on my unitard.
So it really should not have come as a surprise last Friday morning when I sucked so badly at a Kettlebell Circuit class, which I’d attended in an attempt to strength train in something other than half-hearted, 10-minute chunks every other week. Ever the optimist, I had thought maybe my running-fitness would carry me through the demands of the class. Wrong! Telling Megan, the curly haired, 5-months-pregnant instructor, that I was a kettlebell class novice was a waste of precious energy--the moment “Eye of the Tiger” started playing and the warm-up began, my awkward movements screamed, "newbie!" There was another first-timer in the class, but she blended in with the crowd.
After the warm-up, the dozen or so of us moved through an 8-station circuit. In one corner, two women jumped rope as skillfully as Laila Ali, while two others seamlessly pushed out bench presses. With nary a bobble, another woman did combo squats and bicep curls while stepping on and off the unstable half-dome of a BOSU ball. Then there was me, jutting my butt and using too much upper body in the kettlebell squats. Megan gave me a few verbal cues—“focus on the lower body--the kettlebell should feel like an afterthought” and, “keep your elbows in and thumbs down.” Doing tricep presses, I looked like a flightless bird.
I redeemed myself, slightly, on the bench presses and jumping jacks. But that only set me up for a longer, steeper descent for the rest of the circuit. By the squat/curl/Bosu combo, Megan realized I needed movements, not words, and she jumped to my side to demonstrate. From then on, she was Samwise Gamgee to my hapless Frodo, leading me through the uncharted circuit terrain. I curled when I should have straightened, squatted when I should have stepped down. I mumbled to Megan I had no coordination. (Again with the obvious!) Oh, and no balance.
Then on to the box jump/burpee station for my most humiliating revelation: I have no explosive power. None. If my life had depended on being able to do a two-footed hop onto of a Step with two risers underneath it, I’d be dead right now. Seriously, dead. Instead I nearly died doing the exercise—first for 30 seconds, then 60 on the next go-round, and finally for a brutally long 90 seconds.
By the time we finished with a few core exercises on mats, I couldn’t hold a plank for 60 seconds, something I usually pride myself in being able to do. Yet as I told cute Samwise, I mean, Megan, I’ll be back next Friday. As RLAMer Tina pointed out on Facebook, “We all have to start somewhere.”