A few years ago, I found myself in the back of a crowded group exercise studio for the first time ever. Everyone in the room seemed like they knew what they were doing. Everyone seemed fit. Everyone had the latest fitness attire on. Everyone knew each other and was chatting incessantly as intimidatingly fit instructors roved on the stage preparing for class.
If I could have shrunk into inexistence at that moment, I would have. I was in my late 30s, had just dropped my three children off into childcare and was trying to find a love for exercise again. I didn’t feel great about my body though I wasn’t technically overweight.
It wasn’t that I hadn’t worked out until that point. I just hadn’t taken a group exercise class before. I was a college swimmer and left college with a solid routine of running on my own and lifting at the gym, although it was the same strength training regime I did in college. Some habits die hard.
How could someone like that feel out of shape, out of any sort of fitness groove, and like such an outsider in a fitness class? What I had been doing for years just wasn’t working anymore. So I threw myself out there – or in there, in this case, in the middle of a kickboxing cardio class.
Fast forward 12 years and I’m now a group exercise instructor. It isn’t the normal route to a group exercise stage, but group exercise is a common journey to a fit life. The group thing is the trick for some of us.
No matter how much I knew about physiology, sports exercise, or training, none of that by itself pushed me to be on my healthiest path. Running by myself day after day, week after week wasn’t keeping me in my most ideal shape. That solitary pursuit wasn’t something I looked forward to each day. In fact, I dragged my feet into my running shoes each day and often found excuses for not going out for a run at all on a given day or I would cut my runs short.
I justified staying in that unhealthy place by saying gym memberships were just too expensive. I was a college athlete so I knew how to keep myself in shape. I didn’t need anyone else.
But I was wrong.
For some people, going it on your own isn’t the answer for a fit lifestyle.
My inspiration came from the music in the class I first took and seeing other people jump higher, hit harder, and push me to do better. After that hour expired, I felt exhilarated.
It took longer to make fitness friends in the class. I actually brought a book to read while waiting for the doors of the classroom to open on my class of choice. That way I wouldn’t seem like I was the only one without a friend in the room.
But I kept going and eventually, I stopped bringing the book because people started talking to me and I started coming to class not just for the music and motivation, but to see and chat with my new friends in class.
Those friends eventually encouraged me to become an instructor myself, and years later and another gym later, I’m still friends with many of them.
I’m blessed now to be a part of a group exercise community at Ochsner Fitness Center. I teach some classes. I take other classes. I’ve connected with people in the classes who are on the same path. Some are further ahead than others, but we’re all working to the same healthy end.
It took two months of COVID-19 related lockdown to teach me – yet again – that I need a group exercise community to keep me motivated. Now that gyms are open again, I’m reunited with all my friends and workout buddies and back on a regular fitness routine.
Connect with us if you want to try a class at Ochsner Fitness Center for free. This class is on me.
Tammy Nunez is a director and a certified Body Combat, Core and HIIT instructor at Ochsner Fitness Center. You can reach her at email@example.com.
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