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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Christine
12 years ago

I’m taking a dance exercise class called Ultimate Groove, and that experience of being the one facing the wrong way? Totally me, except the rest of the class, so far, have been kind enough to not point and laugh. I feel like I missed Aerobics 101 when I was in college, and now I can’t move my arms and my legs at the same time without many weeks of slow prep work.

But also, what on earth is parkour? It sounds like a synthetic floor covering.

And you look fab, so shut up.

Megan
Megan
12 years ago

I’m an L.A.-area reader, so I’ve done Hoopnotica, although I’ll note that doing it at home is a recipe for dinged-up furniture and terrified pets. I have yet to take my hoop to the park (no yard) because I’m not sure the kids at the playground will be as polite as your workout cohorts.

*waggles around, trips on hoop, falls over*

Jenni S
Jenni S
12 years ago

I’ve laughed at someone in a workout class before. Hel-LO, yoga farts. Also, I’m kind of an asshole.

Susan
Susan
12 years ago

I went to a hoop class Friday. Was massive awful at it. Knocked my glasses off twice. It was very fun.

Tamara
12 years ago

I’m in LA but my 24 hour fitness has a Bollywood class and the guy from this Virgin America commercial http://www.adstorical.com/commercial/5027/virgin-america-get-down-at-any-elevation-guy-goes-wild/ teaches it. FUN.

Kelly
Kelly
12 years ago

Your pictures were making me laugh out loud. I would have wet my pants exercising next to a woman dressed as a strawberry. Also, SpicoliBananaMan is hot.

Tasha
Tasha
12 years ago

3am, so I can’t comment everything I’m thinking… :D But I was thinking 1) Everyone else is probably thinking *they* look ridiculous too when they do the workouts 2) I have a round bed from IKEA & I actually have round bedsheets for it… although I use regular square sized blankets because it’s too expensive to buy round blankets (I know, go figure)

I really enjoyed this post, haha– LOTS of fun new exercise ideas. But I’m wondering, how long did it take the hooping instructor to lose that much weight? I’m a bit surprised that hooping would help that much. Pretty cool.

Tasha
Tasha
12 years ago

Also, I just realized I used “thinking” in each of the first three sentences… my mistake. I blame it on the time. ;]

Ris
Ris
12 years ago

I recently started taking Zumba classes, which are crazy fun and definitely a workout, and yes, I am the girl who is REPEATEDLY facing the wrong way/running into people and breathlessly gasping “sorry! ooh, sorry!” over and over again. And I stupidly thought to myself “I can dance. I can follow a routine. How hard can it be?” Answer: VERY HARD. So, I share your pain. Your very fit, sweaty, pain.

Melissa
12 years ago

This only confirms my fear of taking any more organized dancy type exercise classes. And also, if you take a class with your sister (or cousin or whoever, someone that knows you), the odds are pretty good she WILL laugh at you (or you at her).

Becky
12 years ago

Well, I’m always trying to find a way to exercise regularly and not get bored with it. I do a lot of dancing – with an XBox game and some DWTS DVDs – which I can usually manage for an hour or so. Recently attempted the elliptical in my in-laws basement and my ass was sufficiently kicked after about 20 minutes (and that’s a 20 minute workout…not 20 actual Earth minutes. I had to stop every 5 minutes or so to avoid dying.)
I’d be interested in trying any of those, honestly. At least once.

Maryan
Maryan
12 years ago

I was a master hula-hooper when I was a kid, so I was horrified to learn that as an adult, not only had I lost the skill, I’d actually regressed into someone’s drunken aunt dancing alone at a wedding. Still and all, I totally want to find a hooping class in Toronto, because its still damn fun.

I’ve also been taking zumba since September, and it is the most fun sweat I’ve ever had. I can’t recommend it enough.

MRW
MRW
12 years ago

These classes all sound like fun things I’d try if they were offered anywhere near where I live, sadly they are not. Except the surfing class – I can only imagine how many times I’d fall off that thing leaving me bruised and battered by the end.

I started doing a Zumba class a few months ago and thankfully everyone was too busy trying to follow what the hell was going on to laugh at me. There are some regulars though who know every move and hop up on stage to help lead the class. I stay as far away from that as possible for fear I will have an experience similar to yours a few months ago and then die of shame leaving my kids with only one (tired) parent.

adequatemom
12 years ago

Love this post! So glad you learned that no one actually laughs at you. I like dancing, so I have done a lot of Belly Fit (belly dancing/Bollywood/Bhangra stuff), which is awesome because it starts at the beginning each time and is a GREAT workout. I’d really like to try Groove classes, but there aren’t any in my area. Recently I decided to try Hip Hop dancing. Hoo boy, was THAT a bad idea!

Rachel
Rachel
12 years ago

The world, she is small. The strawberry is a friend of mine, and also a huge dork (she will expound, at great length, upon the history of clowning if you give her half a chance).

I’ve been dancing my whole life (mostly ballroom and swing) and I am always facing the wrong way or doing the wrong move in big group classes. Especially if the instructor is facing us. Then I mirror them so that I’m always going right when I should go left, and so on.

Amy
Amy
12 years ago

Hooping…might have to try that. My boys are in a theatre group and I am in charge of the 80something 3rd-6th graders so I am at every rehearsal. Much to my son’s dismay…I do all of the dances with them 1)because our director is totally arthritec 2) because the little ones 1st-3rd who are there need to see someone doing it and 3)because it’s fun! However…I am not always the best example, going the wrong way or some other such mess. Oh well…I’m moving!

Kristen
Kristen
12 years ago

Two things:

– people dressed as fruit are a little disconcerting

– that round bed is doing my head in

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