So there I was in LA doing double-unders next to a giant banana and I thought to myself, self, I have no idea how to write about this event except I should probably open with the giant banana.

Anyway, the jump-roping banana was Bananaman, who is apparently a fairly well-known corporate mascot who I can tell you has very nice calves, can carry out a number of impressive feats of physical fitness while wearing an amusingly-shaped banana costume, and bears more than a passing resemblance to Jeff Spicoli. The event was put on by Jamba Juice, and why I was there in a mix of knowledgeable fitness bloggers is a question we’ll leave for the PR agency (a wonderful group of friendly folks who were tragically misinformed as to my area of expertise).

When they asked me if I’d like to come to L.A. for this fitness event, I thought it sounded like a day of low-key fun. Leisurely check out whatever newest fitness trends they were showing off, maybe sip some smoothies from the sidelines. You know: am v. important web journalist, please pass the mango.

To be sure, smoothies were provided—but I ended up inhaling mine in one giant dehydrated gulp, because 1) this turned out to be a hands-on event, and 2) it turns out the newest fitness trends are all about kicking your ass.

Let me get the sponsor info out of the way, so you don’t worry I’m going to get to the end of this and try to sell something: this was hosted by Jamba Juice as part of their “Live Fruitfully” campaign, and my trip was paid for by the company. Among other things, Jamba Juice is promoting a new line of Fit n’ Fruitful diet-friendly smoothies, which are marketed, it should be noted, as meal replacements. I tried the strawberry/raspberry/banana flavor and it was pretty good. I’ll be honest though, at 11g of protein and 52g of carbs, this definitely wouldn’t be my personal pick for a meal replacement—the sugar content is too high, and I’d be starving an hour later. But as an occasional treat? Yeah, I’d hit that.

Okay! Back to the crazy fitness stuff. You know how I’ve described (unendingly, droningly, past the point of tedium) about how I’m always terrified of taking new classes at the gym because I’m pathologically worried about being the doofus who can’t master any of the moves and is always facing forward when the rest of the class grapevines backward and eventually everyone just points and does the Nelson laugh in unison and also I’m naked for some reason? Well, this fitness event was like four solid hours of one exotically intimidating class after another, and I’m proud/humiliated to say I gave them all my very best shot.

Which is to say, I was cartoonishly terrible at absolutely everything.

The hardest was a “Juicy Athletic Moves” class taught by a fancy celebrity coach and it involved dancing. Like, a lot of dancing. I am . . . not a dancer. I’m not even sure how to describe what she was asking us to do, but it was like a really fast and sexy music video and I was like the malfunctioning robot in the back of the room who yes, repeatedly was facing the wrong way when everyone whirled around. All I can say is I’m glad the other bloggers were so cool and no one laughed even once, not even when I tripped over the lady dressed as a giant strawberry.

Screen shot 2012-02-10 at 4.52.25 PM

All I knew is that the POUND workout class involved drumsticks and I was like oh, cool, a little arm workout. I can handle that! Then the two lithe and sinewy instructors did painful cruel things to every single part of my body and I almost cried. Damn, POUND girls.

Screen shot 2012-02-10 at 4.45.30 PM

Foxy & Fierce kickboxing was where we used jump ropes and I fervently prayed that 1) I could keep up with the giant banana, and 2) I wouldn’t pee my pants.

Screen shot 2012-02-10 at 4.46.42 PM

I’m sorry to say I don’t have a photo of my performance during the Bollywood workout, but please imagine an extremely fast-faced Bollywood routine—and now imagine that gorgeous girl from Slumdog Millionaire dancing in an absolutely energetic and mesmerizing fashion. That was totally me. Who’s to say otherwise?

Hoopnotica—a workout involving weighted hula hoops—was very fun, and surprisingly taxing. One of the instructors had apparently lost upwards of 70 pounds by standing in front of Oprah every day while hooping. (I don’t think the Oprah part is necessary, FYI.)

Screen shot 2012-02-10 at 12.58.13 PM

Oh, then there was parkour, which involved an instructor leaping effortlessly over various obstacles and making it look so easy, and then I would try it and something would go terribly wrong and the next thing I knew I was sprawled on the floor in a tangled heap. (By the way, if you think I’m exaggerating my ineptitude for the sake of humor, all I’m going to say is GOOD. GO AHEAD AND THINK THAT.)

Screen shot 2012-02-10 at 4.37.58 PM

Do you like how all these bloggers look adorable and fresh-faced and I’m apparently masticating some sort of CUD? Mooooooooo.

Screen shot 2012-02-10 at 4.47.40 PM

What else . . . oh, we were ferried to and fro in a massive Jamba Party bus, which I’m only now noticing has a stripper pole in it?

Screen shot 2012-02-10 at 4.36.34 PM

Strawberry girl never once dropped character all day. She was like the Christian Bale of fruit-shaped corporate mascots.

Screen shot 2012-02-10 at 12.39.46 PM

There was a crazy surf workout that I didn’t get a chance to try, but it looked . . . okay, fine, it looked TOTALLY HORRIFYING, but I’m sure for those with an actual sense of balance it’s super fun.

Screen shot 2012-02-11 at 10.16.39 AM

Also, my hotel bed was perfectly round and I was so excited to see once and for all how sheets work on a round bed and the answer is such a disappointment: they’re just crammed under there, all willy-nilly.

Screen shot 2012-02-10 at 12.59.04 PM

The whole trip was just a great time: friendly people, amazing weather, great food. And truthfully, I sort of loved being pushed outside my comfort zone and into trying a bunch of new things. The fact is no one ever laughs at you in a workout class, no matter how stupid you look or how many people’s feet you accidentally step on. Why do I always convince myself otherwise? I’m glad for the reminder, and for a day’s worth of fun experiences I would have never have had the balls to seek out on my own.

All the workouts I sampled were from L.A.-area classes (although I believe a couple folks offer DVDs), but have you tried anything similar? Hooping, pounding, surfing, Bollywood-ing?

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