Body Attack Blues

I’m not a natural exerciser. Most recently, I signed up for a class called Body Attack at my local gym. Let me start off by saying that I confused Body Attack for Body Combat… I used to kick box (until I dislocated my shoulder), and I’m very comfortable punching and kicking so I thought it was about time to get back to it. Body Combat, with its ‘strike, punch and kick your way to ultra cardio fitness’ tag, sounded just the ticket. Body Attack, on the other hand, is ‘high energy interval training’. The mix up was entirely my own fault. Similar names, totally different descriptions…

So, I rocked up to Body Attack, confidently told the instructor that although I’d never been to this particular class before, I had kick boxed for years. She gave me an odd look, and told me to grab several sets of dumbbells and a mat, and I took a spot in the only available space – right at the front staring at myself in the bank of mirrors – lovely. Let me just say that I need to lose weight, not a serious amount of weight, but a decent amount, and standing in front of those mirrors wasn’t a great start.

The instructor began by announcing that today was a brand new routine; new to everyone, even the hardcore fans. Phew! I thought. At least I’ve got kickboxing experience. And then she said she’d start with a warm-up (duh!), before moving on to three sets of exercise that would rise and fall in intensity.

I barely made it through the warm-up, and I was the youngest person in the class by several decades. Lunges, squats, press ups, burpees, all your usual stuff, but to music, in time, with rhythm. I have no rhythm. I was laughed out of a cheerleading audition at university. I was standing at the front of the class performing a ‘simple’ and ‘gentle’ warm-up at least three beats behind everyone else. It was embarrassing, but I’ve been in worse situations (I once completed an entire exercise class with my stretch capris inside out with the key pocket flapping on my arse like a tail). I tried to ‘man up’. I really did. I gritted my teeth, and swallowed my pride as I did all the ‘easier’ moves, and I was still knackered – dripping with sweat, panting like a wildebeest.

And the instructor, bless her, she’s probably a lovely person, and she certainly has plenty of fans (I had to book into her class well in advance), but I couldn’t understand a word she was saying. She had one of those headset mics on, into which she screeched instructions, which I completely failed to comprehend and ended up desperately trying to mimic her moves (I like to think this accounted for at least one second of my ‘delay’).

Then she moved on to the actual exercise part of the class. By now I’d realised that kickboxing was not going to happen, and I began to bargain with myself – ‘If you complete the entire class, you can go shopping after’ or ‘If you finish this set, you can stop at the supermarket after and buy some cookies’. And then I looked at the clock. It was an hour class. It was only 15 minutes in. At that point, I stopped bargaining and started panicking.

I am flawed in many ways, but perhaps most annoyingly, I care (I mean, I really care) about what people think of me. I couldn’t quit and just walk out in front of all these people. How embarrassing. I looked at the clock again. 16 minutes.

I dropped my hand weight. Walked to the side of the studio, picked up my handbag, and walked out. Best decision I made all day.


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