Gym Classes Reviewed By A First Timer
So my body needs a bit of TLC. I’m not trying to lose weight or anything, but I do think I could do with a bit of extra muscle even if it’s just to help me carry large shopping bags up to my flat. I can’t do a single press up, sit ups make me want to cry, and the only kettle bells I want to be hearing about are magical ones that sit in my kitchen and tell me when my hot chocolate is ready. It’s safe to say that I’m a bit of a wimp, but I’ve dutifully been going to the gym to combat my blues and writing my findings here for you guys to enjoy (especially the bits where I humiliate myself immensely).
So, I know that everyone raves about Yoga. I didn’t really understand why, but now I do. Such fun. It’s a really good thing to just chill out with at the end of a long day at work or being educated. Also, for someone who hasn’t really exercised before, it’s nice and simple while still feeling like you’re getting a bit of a work out. I was going to go to the 90 minutes class, but I think I would find it a bit boring after the 60 minute point. If you need to start somewhere, this is probably a good place to do it. You’ll leave feeling nice and stretchy.
Right, so this is second. That’s largely because I literally cannot tell the difference between this and yoga, except that this is slightly harder. Maybe one day someone will tell me, but for now it seems pretty much the same. Maybe it has something to do with the core? Everything to do with exercise seems to have something to do with the core.
This is hilarious. I was the youngest person in the class by about twenty years. I guess that’s because it’s soft on the joints (so if you have an injury this is probably the one for you). It’s sort of like aerobics or Zumba but in the water. As somebody who hates lunges and squats, I found this very easy to do. I was squatting like a pro feeling no pain at all. However, the next day I did really notice. Not being able to get out of bed was funny for about five minutes and then after that the novelty wore off. If you don’t like feeling the effects of your work-out while you’re doing it, this is a good option for you. It’s not especially popular among young people, so take a friend if you’re worried about looking like larry no mates.
So Zumba is the one I was the most excited for because that was the one that most people seem to have done. It’s like a combination of what I imagine to be salsa, samba, and a bit of bollywood (although I am not a dancer so do not hold me to that). Again I was the youngest person in the class, but by not quite such a big margin this time. I did have great fun, but compared to the other classes I felt it wasn’t such a work out. If you exercise just to stay loose and relaxed then this class is great for that.
Having really enjoyed yoga and pilates, I had been going back for both classes quite frequently. One day horror struck: I got there to find that pilates had been cancelled. However, there was a lady running a replacement class in Body Balance. This is a thai chi/yoga/pilates routine set to music that they do with you every week. The routine changes every couple of months so you don’t get bored. I actually think this was my favourite class. It was slightly less chilled than yoga, but I felt that my muscles had worked more. I didn’t feel too horrendous the next day either so that was a bonus!
Okay, so I was absolutely terrified for this class. Spinning is the thing they do in the rom coms when they need an exercise in the plot that comically stops the characters walking for a few days. Actually, I found that the cycling was fine, comfortable even. My problem was that my height was not designed for conventional bikes, and my bony ass was not made for the seats. It’s a great work out, but my suggestion is that you get there early to make sure you’re on a bike that’s comfy for you. Also take a towel to sit on.
It turns out that this is the class that I should have been scared of. I walked in feeling quietly confident, which promptly turned into “OH LORD JESUS PLEASE MAKE IT STOP.”
We started with cardio – running, lunging, jumping and all kinds of ridiculousness. Then the pain begins. One minute each of Kettle bells, skipping, steps, weights, planks, squats, running. Each new wave came with my conscience screaming “What fresh hell is this????” The class was full of active mums and middle aged men who obviously work hard to keep fit, and they kept stopping to ask me if I was okay. Every fibre of my being wanted to yell “NO. I AM OBVIOUSLY NOT OKAY. WHY DOES THE INSTRUCTOR KEEP YELLING AT ME?”
If you want a good work out then go for it, but if you’re new to this whole gym thing I’d maybe build up your strength and willingness to put your body through hard things first.
So this follows the same formula as Body Balance but instead of being yoga/thai chi inspired, it’s supposed to be similar to martial arts. I should probably preface this by saying that I got my black belt in Karate when I was 14 and am itching to get back to those classes when I get the time/money. This class felt nothing at all like actual martial arts. It was more like boxercize or aerobics or something like that. Again all set to music, you do routines that include vague punches and kicks here and there, but couldn’t really get over how wussy and watered down it all felt. It was a good cardio workout, but if you want the strength and the release of a martial arts class, go to an actual martial arts class. Karate will always be my baby, but I’ve done some Judo and Thai Chi as well and they are also fun.
The thing that I’ve learned most after my gym expedition is how much better the world feels after doing something active. Even if the class was tough, I felt that something had lifted after the end of each one. I seemed more focused and I didn’t go home and fall asleep on the sofa in front of the telly. I went and got shit done.
If there’s one thing I can say, it’s that you should find a way of doing something active every day. Whether it’s a kick around with your kids in the evening or a walk with your partner on the weekend (followed by sex at home obvs). Get out there. The world will feel better.