I had heard of them before, but I’d never seen one until last night. I didn’t know if they were real, but I can now testify that they exist. Of what do I speak? Overweight aerobics instructors.
It started Sunday night when I finally watched the TurboJam DVDs I checked out from the library. TurboJam is the same thing as TurboKick, a fitness workout developed by Chalene Johnson in 1997 that incorporates kickboxing and dance moves. I took a class last year as part of a community education program, but I haven’t been since because the drive was too far. As I was bobbing around in front of my computer to the DVDs, I realized two things. First, it’s amazing how much more floor space I have around my computer than between my TV and my sofa. Second, exercise used to be so much fun! Fun! That’s what I’ve been missing! Bouncing around on the carpet learning a new routine stimulated my mind and forced me to think and concentrate in a way I haven’t had to when I’ve been running or doing the same old Pilates routine. Ironically, being stuck in a rut caused me to start losing my groove.
As I was watching the video, I was rather impressed with everyone’s physique. After watching the pitch they make on the DVD, I’m sure the marketing plan for TurboJam lists one of the main selling points as weight loss. They stressed that a lot in the ads and on the background featurettes, showing at least two exercisers who’d lost up to 50 pounds. While that’s great, I wish they’d actually shown some of those overweight people doing the routines. In all the footage of events at the beach and other places, they only showed the thin “after” people and not the fatter “before” people. I realize they’re selling an image and pushing the end results, but if people are really losing all this weight on TurboJam I’d like to see them as they’re doing it, not just afterwards.
I checked the Y’s class schedule and lucky for me a TurboKick class was scheduled at 6:30 last night. I got a bit lost on my way home, in a bad neighborhood, at twilight – but I have obviously lived to tell the tale. Behind schedule, I rushed in the door, fed my cat, changed my clothes and raced to the Y in lightly snow-covered streets without sliding into a ditch. Then I got to the parking lot. It was full. Damn those bastards who all join up in January! Oh wait, that’s me. I guess it was my own damn fault the lot was full. Sorry! I pulled around a long aisle and slipped into the last free spot before dashing into the Y and bounding upstairs to the classroom. The stairs are right next to the main entrance, before you enter the security gate, and no one even checked my pass. So, if you are an unethical person who is willing to rip off charitable Christian organizations for free aerobics classes, this might be the gym for you!
As I walked in the room I saw a woman with a battery pack belted around her waist doing audio checks on a microphone headset. She was fat. Not just overweight, but probably obese by BMI standards. And she was the instructor. My first thought? Awesome! I know some gyms don’t like to have overweight fitness instructors because they think it sends a bad image, but my philosophy is that if you can lead the workout then it doesn’t matter how fat you are. If you can do the job, you have every right to do it. And she did. She led an hour-long workout, calling out instructions the whole time. I admired her a lot because I doubt I would have been fit enough to complete that routine when I was her size. I doubt my knees would have been up to it either. If anything, I think it sets a good example because it shows overweight women that they can exercise and be in shape too.
I was glad I’d taken my previous TurboKick class though, because my instructor there went over basic form techniques, explained common moves and warned me about the Turbo sessions when the music speeds up and you double-time everything for a couple minutes. If I’d just wandered into this class off of the street, I’d probably have thrown my coat and hat back on after 10 minutes in frustration and confusion.
I did like that this class was held in a real studio and not a school gym like my old class. I was able to see myself in mirrors all around the room and check my form. I realized that when I’m standing straight up, I fell like I’m leaning backwards. This is probably why some people have critiqued my posture in my progress photos. I’m so used to tilting forward that it feels like I’m standing straight. I’ll have to work on that.
As I was looking at myself in those mirrors, I couldn’t help but think, “I look so great.” It’s been odd looking in mirrors this past week and a half since I’ve stopped weighing myself. Sometimes I’ll check the size of my tummy and my butt and think, “Oh God, have I gained weight?” Other times I’ll look and think, “No, I still look fine.” Seeing myself in motion in the YMCA classroom,as I was kicking and jumping and punching in mediocre form, I thought, “It’s so awesome that I can do this. I look awesome.” And I really believed it. I have no idea what I weigh right now, and as long as I can find fun in being fit (and my pants still fit), I can say I honestly don’t care.