It was almost a year ago when my wife convinced me to join her group exercise class over the lunch hour. I clearly remember the Monday, walking in and setting up the bench, the weights, the mat and all, surrounded by women of various ages. I had two reactions (probably typical of any guy’s reaction to Bodypump on day one) –
i got this… light weights on the bar, no big deal
do I really want to be in this “step-aerobic” class?
The instructor comes in, introduces herself as Sarah, and finding out that I’m new, recommends the ‘light bar, lots of reps’ mantra that I now understand as standard operating procedure. I look around and see most women, including my wife, with 10-15lb barbells, and setup my bar with 20lbs. Sarah, the instructor, gives me the look – reminds us all (in true YMCA style, didn’t really call me out, but I knew) to go light. I ignore. A snippet of the types of workouts that followed are in this video below.
800 repetitions (reps) later, I knew what light meant and why. I had started with a 20lb bar and needed to start with 10lbs. Ignoring the original and subsequent advice, I had added weight as if I’d been a regular ‘pumper’. My arms, legs, chest, shoulders and back hurt. I realized that it was one of the hardest (probably THE hardest) fitness routine I’d ever participated in, and that I’d be back. I hate to acknowledge that my ego was pretty bruised, especially knowing that my male friends were advertising their WODs from Crossfit etc. with far, far greater weights. Walking down the steps of the Y required holding onto the railing and I was glad for my ‘designated driver’ beside me.
As a T2 diabetic, I’ve fought weight since original diagnosis in 1999. Then 239 lbs and on the day of the class 195ish, I have always hated any form of exercise. I’ve tried running, walking, biking, swimming, etc and hated it. I’ve tried it solo and with a partner and hated it. I’ve tried it over lunch, early mornings, and late evenings and hated it. So blood sugars (specifically A1c) swung between 6.5-8 throughout those years. Meds were on the rise – in dosage and quantity – and a clear medication path was ahead of me. I’d planned my will etc. to the point of accepting natural end of life by 75.
Just six months before the Bodypump class above, a chance email from a YMCA encouraged me to attend a class designed for diabetics — “Move Well Today“. More about that class in another post, but I went through Move Well for about 6 months and had gotten accustomed to the sense of community in those classes. As the second youngest person in the class, I had more strength and stamina than others, and had converted about 15lbs of fat to muscle with a mix of cardio and strength conditioning twice a week. I was feeling much healthier.
Ego and body bruised after first pump, I returned that Friday to a tech-class where another instructor, DeAnn, would spend 15-20 minutes prior to her class and teach proper technique for the various exercises. I flunked squats, lunges, and deadlifts. I received corrections for the moves and went through the class again. I enjoyed it a bit more, now with a proper selection of weights. A routine developed over the next 60 days – three days a week, one hour each. Bodypump 87 had me hooked.
And the song that did it – Bom Bom by Sam and the Womp. One of the silliest, craziest songs to ever hit the bicep track. It was the song I’d come back to 10 months later for a totally different reason.
Oh, and the diabetes – a year of 3 to 4 classes/week has brought my meds down by 80% and the A1c is now hovering below 6.0. I might even reconsider that dying by age 75.
The class became addictive – to the point that I was there at the gym, driving through a snowstorm at 9am on January 1, 2014 for the launch of tracklist 88. Exercise was no longer a hated activity – it had become an addiction and a necessity.