I’ve become so addicted to Spin that I’ve been neglecting the main purpose of the blog – to trial new classes and let my fellow “new-to-gym” or “back-to-gym” goers know what to expect. So, when Kirstin called and said that she and Lesley were booked into Aerobics at 5.30pm on Friday at Rodney, I thought it might be a nice, easy relax into the weekend. I’ve noticed my fitness levels generally have improved, particularly cardio and stamina so I in my head I was looking forward to a class of toning and stretching.
“I better warn you - it’s with Julie Cummings” said Kirstin.
Now, I was making a cup of tea at the time, clearly not paying suitable attention, or I would have twigged that Julie Cummings was not the instructor for my very misplaced idea of what a Aerobics was. She also neglected to mention that this class used to be ‘Bums, Tums and Thighs’ and although the name has changed not much else has.
I’d never been to Aerobics before; in all my years of gym memberships, village hall classes and fitness fads this well-known phenomenon had passed me by. Why then, I had it painted as an easy-peasy stretch class with a yoga mat, gentle movements and at worst, a tummy crunching plank at the end as its most challenging move, is beyond me. This particular misconception was clearly some sort of “made-up-by-Nicki” version of a class that doesn’t exist in the real world. Aerobics is cardio, calorie-killing, super-toning fitness. And led by Julie C you get a whole heap of Scottish Girl Crazy as your motivational style.
We start with Julie explaining how the class is going to work – “We’ll start with the warm up, get you moving and motivated for 15 minutes, then it’s another 15 minutes of the hard stuff – we’re going to work you tonight people. Finally, its 15 minutes of toning for our forty five minute, Friday Teatime class. LET’S GO!”
Smiling wide, big bouncy movements and friendly craic - “How was your week everyone?” – Julie put us through our warm up paces and in 15 minutes my heart was racing like I’d just had a one hour workout. She is full on; don’t let that tiny stature fool you into thinking you’re dealing with a cute little gym bunny! Her frame is slight, but strong and sinewy rather than scrawny. She clearly loves what she does and wants to take you with her to that same, exercise-fuelled, happy place. The smile is 100 watt, the leg kicks are dancer-high and as the class progresses she takes the time to remind you of high and low options on EVERY move. I can see why she is loved, revered and feared in equal measures!
After the warm up we were into “the hard stuff” which was a sequence of cardio / strength routines that came with two options for most of the moves. I was a little confused at this to start with (me, rather than her to be fair!) but once I sussed out where I was on scale I was sorted! Impressively – that is to say I impressed myself, nothing award winning you understand! – I made it through the 15 minutes with a 50 / 50 split of low and regular options depending on the exercise or move being made. I only stopped once for a quick water top up and I sweated through the moving jumping jacks, drove my thighs up when Julie demanded “higher knees!” and raised my chest to the front while squatting.
I was knackered, but there I was doing it. And, at least for the first round, I was doing it not too shabbily! Round three, to be fair, brought my average back to 50 / 50 as I found myself praying for the jogging on the spot to end so I could get to the “easier” lunge section!
So there we are, enjoying the rest period, me and Lesley draining our water bottles as Kirstin headed off to get us all a mat. I’m thinking “YES!” this is the easy stretch bit I came for. Not so much. Killer Abs need Killer Ab Exercises apparently. It makes perfect sense. But as I tighten my core, lead from my abs and bring my head up to meet my 90 degree angled knees, I’m wondering if a flat stomach isn’t actually a tad over-rated. And then it’s like she’d crawled inside my head…”You know you want that washboard stomach people – let’s go!”. She’s right – I do want it. And they don’t sell it in Markies so I’ll need to keep going!
Only one more move to go – the plank. I knew by that point that my original thought that had the plank down as the most challenging move in the class was, of course, wrong. I have never been so pleased to line up my elbows in my life. The track changed to Candi Staton’s, “I Can Count On You” and I glanced up at Kirstin and Lesley knowing exactly what they were thinking. A few years ago we’d all been jumping around in the tiny sweat box of a venue that is The Ferry in Glasgow, watching Candi Staton live as she strutted her fabulous old legs around the tiny stage. That night, the last time we’d listened to this track all together, we’d been eating curries, burgers and swigging from bottles that were definitely not filled with water!
And that’s why we do it. It’s not about harbouring some desire to look like Elle McPherson, it’s just about getting to an age where you appreciate that everything is possible – but it’s also a bit of a trade. If I want to enjoy a night out, with my girls, letting my hair down and over indulging then pushing myself through 45 minutes of Aerobics has to be part of my 40+ lifestyle choice. Otherwise, it’s more jiggle than wiggle, more puffing than prancing and no breath left to sing, cheer and throw my hands up in the air.
All this fitness stuff is getting easier. I’m enjoying the challenges and do you know, Julie said she hadn’t recognised me because I looked like I was “disintegrating!” – that’s a loud compliment from the woman with the rock hard abs! I’d recommend this class to anyone looking for a challenge – the lower options and motivating instructors (Julie is one of many) will help everyone from complete beginners to fitness fanatics. Washboard stomachs here we come!
You can find Aerobics or Bums, Tums and Thighs classes in many Live Active Venues. Click here> to search for classes in your area.