I must have had it wrong. I arrived at the Y at 9 a.m. for what I expected to be a short, half-hour exercise class. I was ready. I had been in this class before and it wasn’t too hard. Requiring a few light hand weights, a little peppy music and only 30 minutes, it fit my comfort level for a Monday morning. I could do that.
But wait. The sign outside the door said something else. This wasn’t KettleWorx. It was Total Strength and it was an hour-long class. Women were filing into the studio or, having just finished the previous class, were waiting for Total Strength to begin. They all looked much younger than me, and a lot more fit and toned too.
Now the women were scurrying around to the corners of the room selecting the equipment they would need for class. A step platform and support blocks, a foam mat, two heavy hand weights, a medicine ball and a body bar.
Sarah, the instructor, spotted the newbie and asked if I had any questions. I started thinking of the laundry list of excuses and knee ailments that would prevent me from participating. “Don’t worry,” she said. “Do what you can do.”
I liked her easy attitude, her energy and the way her hair was styled in dreadlocks – how did she do that? Now the room was cluttered with pods of equipment and I rushed to grab mine, reaching for the three-pound weights before there were none left but the heavies. I picked a spot in the back of the room and placed my jacket and water bottle nearby.
The music started pumping and we started out easy with some dancing motions that were nicely familiar. We then worked up to doing curls with the hand weights and body bar, then went down on the platforms for leg lifts and abs work. I liked the way Sarah added some stretches and low-key workouts between the core exercises and encouraged anyone to moderate the routines if they needed to, or even leave early.
When it comes to exercise, I can be intimidated by words such as “total” and “extreme” and “crunches.” Even all that equipment makes me wary of what’s ahead. But this time, I went the extra mile and tried something new. I’m glad I did.
Often when I do something, take a walk, ride my bike or clean out a closet, I look for ways that I can go “an extra mile.” It might be another block, a side trip to another neighborhood off the path, or a file I’ve been meaning to organize. Trying something new and unexpected – even an exercise class – is that “extra mile” that opens up a new challenge and makes way for a new accomplishment. Soon that “extra” something becomes part of the norm, and you begin looking for the next challenge.
So when the sign on the door isn’t what you expected and you’re not quite sure of yourself, take a look around, take a breath and step right in.