Old dog, new tricks

I am a creature of habit. This is as true about my hobbies as anything else. It’s partly related to being an introvert, which I only recently discovered. I think it’s also because I just like doing stuff I’m good at, and like most people I tend to be good at stuff I’ve been doing for a long time. I played netball for eight years (although I can’t say I ever got “good”). I was a physie girl for 20 years, on and off (I am better at physie than netball). And I’ve now been going to the gym for 12 years.

But this year, I’ve gone out of my comfort zone when it comes to fitness. Not only am I sticking with this running thing (a relatively new activity I’ve been doing less than 3 years), but I jumped on a couple of new bandwagons – bikram yoga and xtend barre – as well as a vintage bandwagon – Jazzercise. I’m not an old hand at any of these but I’m always keen to hear about new things so I thought I’d do a review.

So, bikram. That’s the yoga that’s a series of poses (the same every time) performed in a ridiculously hot room (36 degrees) while a ridiculously fit young woman who appears to only be wearing underwear barks orders at you (the same script every time). You are surrounded by all kinds of people wearing all kinds of clothing (or just their swimwear?) and you just have to look straight ahead into the mirror but also not look at your own muffin top lest you lose all motivation and confidence and go home to eat mac and cheese instead.

I did two classes earlier in the year. The first went ok, it was still summer outside so it got VERY HOT as expected. The second didn’t go as well – I blame that on the cold and flu medication I’d taken earlier in the day. I felt nauseous and dizzy for a lot of the class and that feeling continued for hours afterwards. Not surprisingly I wasn’t in a rush to go back, but I had a voucher that expired this week so I went to a 6am class. That was my best yet. Being winter (I think it was minus 3 when I got in the car) the heat wasn’t too unbearable at all, in fact it was downright pleasant to walk into the studio. Since it was 6am I hadn’t eaten anything so my stomach had no complaints. So after that experience I’m keen to go back for some more classes, especially in this weather.

I’ve only done one xtend barre class so far, at a new studio that’s just opened up in Canberra. This is the one that’s for adult women who always wanted to be ballerinas, so they can spend lots of money to stand at a barre in a beautiful room and do lots of plies. They had free classes the first week of opening so I went along. I loved it. It was brutal – I was sore for days afterwards – and my muscles felt like they were on fire. But the instructor was gorgeous and lovely, the pop music was right up my alley and let’s face it, I am definitely one of those people who has always harboured a secret wish to be a ballerina so this was perfect for me. Ongoing classes are ridiculously expensive considering I’m already paying a gym membership and I don’t live or work close enough that it’s a convenient option, but I might go back for the occasional class with a friend.

The bandwagon I’m well and truly on is Jazzercise. Yes, it’s still around. I did not know this either. But a new friend – someone I met at a baby class last year – one day admitted that in her spare time she was a Jazzercise instructor. This was the best thing I’d heard in ages. I kept promising to go along but didn’t get around to it until they had a Groupon special and there I was. And now I’m a fully paid up member and I go religiously once a week, and sometimes more if I can fit it in. I’ve just put in an order for my first Jazzercise clothes and oh if only I could go to the Jazzercise conference weekend on the Sunshine Coast in November. Jazzercise perfectly fits my recent fitness revelation which was that I’m never going to be superwoman, and my aims with exercise should be to just do it and enjoy it. It also fulfills my inner dancer, who doesn’t get out much now I’m old and have a toddler. It’s a bit more social than the gym without being an actual team sport or competitive, which suits me well. And because it involves both cardio and hand weights I feel like it’s a good all-round class.

I’ve loved branching out a bit and trying new classes, even though they just confirm what good value a gym membership is if you like classes. Around Christmas I’ll be able to cancel my gym membership without financial penalty and I may take the chance to do some of these classes more regularly once I’m not also forking out for the gym, or even try some new ones. There are always new things popping up (that I’ve been reading about on American blogs for years, but anyway) so this is my little nudge to anyone who’s in a bit of a rut to see what else is out there that could be worth trying. Even introverts can find a class that suits them.

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