This week, I stepped outside of my bodyweight-exercises-only comfort zone and ventured to a pump class. Not wanting to overdo it, I signed up for the half-hour Tuesday lunchtime class rather than the usual 45 minute session. Pump class involves lifting weights and doing squats in time to music – far different to my usual “15 minutes on the elliptical and then bodyweight exercises until my podcast finishes” workout. The instructor, Kristy, was very kind about my apprehension (I’m very anxious about anything involving lifting weights – my joints are pretty unstable, so a bad angle will probably lead to a dislocated elbow) and set me up with a bar holding the lightest weights possible. It was her first time teaching the shorter class.
Looking around at the other members of the class, I didn’t feel too out-of-place. There weren’t many of us (possibly because it was a 1:15pm class, which doesn’t align with most people’s lunch breaks), but I wasn’t the only complete beginner. At least I wouldn’t be the only one with no idea what they were doing.
The warmup track was fairly simple, with small sets of squats, rows, and presses, and I had convinced myself that the class wouldn’t be too hard. I was keeping up with the rest of the class, not feeling too out-of-breath, and optimistic for the rest of class.
I was wrong.
By halfway through the second song, six minutes of squats at different speeds (who even makes 6-minute pop songs?!), I felt terrible. My feet were cramped horrifically (probably from my aforementioned unstable joints struggling to keep my ankles from rolling) and I was so sweaty that I looked like I’d come from a swim class rather than something on dry land. I nearly called it quits at the end of that track, but there were only five other people in the class and I didn’t want Kristy to think that it was her coaching skills that made me leave, not my incompetence.
Things were looking up a bit once we moved on from the squats and my foot cramp eased off. About halfway through the class, Kristy switched the lights from regular white fluorescents to flashing multicoloured bulbs – there’s nothing like a party atmosphere with bass-heavy pop music to get your spirits up on a slow Tuesday. Combined with the exercise-induced endorphins, I felt pretty energised as we neared the end of the session. You might even say I was glowing from a quick glance, though any closer inspection would reveal that it was just the copious amount of sweat dripping from my hair. If you take this class, don’t forget a towel and a decent-sized water bottle.
The last track was my least favourite exercise – chest presses. Since getting shoulder surgery a few years ago, my arms are very at the bottom position of a chest press, so I tend to avoid doing them*. Even with the lightest possible weight I could have without just lifting an empty bar, I struggled a lot and breathed a big sigh of relief when it was finally time to switch to core exercises and stretching.
Highlight: The instructor, when helping me set up my weights for the class, said I looked strong. It’s not true (my flabby upper arms must have been mistaken for biceps in the harsh lighting), but it still made my day.
Fun: 6/10. The class was pretty repetitive, with only half a dozen exercises repeated, but I liked the music and the instructor made it more entertaining.
Challenge: 8/10. My arm muscles are pretty pathetic, and the foot cramp made squatting properly near-impossible.
Would I go again? Probably. Maybe not every week, but I need extra encouragement to not skip arm day and the accountability of a group fitness class provides that.
*I know this is the worst reason to avoid an exercise. Please don’t @ me.