We joined a gym recently. Or more precisely, we re-joined the gym where JB and I used to have a membership several years ago, which we eventually cancelled because neither of us was actually going there. I talked him into renewing the membership because I figured what the hell, in recent years I’ve tried DVDs, running, personal training, a tragically grubby little 24 Hour Fitness, hot yoga (briefly) (very, very briefly) (once, actually), and CrossFit—why not start back at the beginning, right?

It’s an enormous ridiculously fancy gym—excuse me, club—which we’d never normally be able to afford, but JB’s work pays for most of it. They have all kinds of classes in addition to the acres of equipment and squash courts and pools and whatnot, and I decided to try out something called “Kickbox BLAST!” tonight.

Now, I’ve taken kickboxing before. I spent months jumping around to Chalene Turbo Kick Johnson in my living room, and I’ve worn gloves and punched heavy bags until my knuckles bled. But I was woefully unprepared for the world of agony brought on by the BLAST! class.

I’m not going to give you a play by play, because basically it was over an hour of one hideously painful thing followed by another hideously painful thing, but I have to share this one awful moment that happened about halfway through. The instructor had everyone doing that high-knee running-in-place thing while some crazy half-metal half-dance music throbbed away, and right at the point where I started seeing black spots crowding my vision and I began thinking very seriously about whether or not I was going to 1) pass out, or 2) hose down the room with the contents of my stomach, the instructor leaped off her enormous platform thing and tapped a handful of people and told them to get up on stage in front of the class.

Friends, I was one of those people.

I can’t adequately describe how badly I wanted to die right at that moment, but suffice to say that after I engaged in a pointless little battle with her (which involved me desperately shaking my head and saying, “Nope. Nope. Nope.” while she barked “GET UP THERE” into her headset), things got a thousand times worse when I was actually on the platform.

Picture it, if you will. There’s like forty people in this fucking class, and I’m on a stage in front of EVERYONE with three other women, and we’re all running in place like goons while pumping our hands up in the air. And I’m about 98% sure I’m about to experience some kind of Loss of Sphincter Control, but I can’t stop or even slow down because OH JESUS I’M ON A GODDAMNED STAGE IN FRONT OF EVERYONE.

Wait. It gets worse.

After about fifty ice ages have gone by and I’ve entered a sort of horrible nightmare trance where everything I’ve ever feared in life is coming true right before my eyes, the instructor yells that those of us on stage should now get down and tap someone else to take our place. So now I’ve got to take this insanely awful situation I’m in and transfer it to a total stranger.

Now, a better woman would have just gritted her teeth and stayed on that stage, willing to gut it out until the fatal end, but at soon as I received my directive I hurled my body off the stage in a ridiculous and clumsy jump (while, a horrified part of my brain noted, the other three women turned and walked down the stairs), and slung one trembling, sweat-soaked hand out to pound the sinewy shoulder of a chick in the front row who clearly hadn’t spent her summer binging on carbs. Then, to complete my humiliation, instead of rejoining the class, I limp-scuttled off to a corner of the room to suck wildly at my water bottle—nuknuknuknuk—like a bug-eyed gerbil until my heart stopped threatening to explode out of my eyesockets.

Anyway, I’m pretty sure my entire body is going to be immobilized with pain tomorrow, and the memory of being on that stage is likely going to haunt my dreams for years, but I did live to tell the tale. If I’d have known what was going to happen ahead of time, I never would have even left my house, so . . . I’m sure there’s a lesson here somewhere. Like: as with juice boxes, gum flavors, Colt-branded malt liquors, and generic laxatives, beware any group exercise class with BLAST! in its name.


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12 years ago

Ha, you said sphincter! Best exercise class story ever.

I stupidly soldiered on with my step aerobics class on Day 3 of the Atkins Diet a decade or so ago only to collapse with a calf cramp in the middle. When I told the friend who’d convinced me to try the damn diet about this, he was all, “Oh, didn’t I tell you that you shouldn’t exercise on this?”

12 years ago

Dude, I’ve taught fitness classes for 9 years now (okay, I only teach one type of class (BodyPump) but still), and if I brought a group of participants on stage – whether they were willing or not – I’d get reprimanded the first time and probably fired the next.


12 years ago

Just wait until you try spinning! I felt like I had the physical ability of someone who just woke up from a coma and was forced into the class.

And the seat on the bike? Not even enough for one butt cheek to be happy. I think it took me three days before I could walk right.

But it was fun and something new, so yeah!

12 years ago

Adding in the “I’m an instructor too!”

Freestyle classes you have a lot more leeway. With a Les Mills class, you won’t be pulled up onto the stage. Ever. Unless you’re another instructor and even then, most times, it’s a prearranged thing.

Part of people getting into the classes are the scary parts of not being “good enough” or whatever. Taking newbies onstage is so not cool.

12 years ago

Oh my gawd – I just died laughing reading this! Thank you for starting my day with laugh cramps!

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