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women in gym class

I’m a fitness instructor, so I’ve never understood why some people dislike working out. But a recent CBC podcast, ideas, "Building a Better Gym Class", has helped enlightened me. For many people, it’s historical: the excruciating memory of the elementary and/or high school gym class!

Humans are born to run, or at least walk. As toddlers and pre-schoolers we move and stretch and play just for the sake of moving and stretching and playing. Nobody’s winning a ribbon or medal and all our drooly little playmates make the team. Then the organized fun - or unfun! - of school is thrust upon us. We walk by a showcase full of trophies to get to the gym where we learn we suck at basketball - or perhaps we’re just not that tall - and no one picks us for the team. It’s embarrassing and discouraging, yes?

I was a tad naive as a child, which helped shield me from embarrassment. There were times I wasn’t picked but it wasn’t until high school, when I didn’t make the basketball or volleyball teams, that I realized team sports weren’t my thing. I was envious of the bond the girls on those teams had, but luckily I had gymnastics and high jump.

And, okay, I’ll admit. Nature blessed me with a fairly athletic body and my parents raised me in an active household. My mom had me in Highland dancing at four. (While Highland dancing is not a prerequisite for becoming a Jazzercise instructor, I was thrilled to discover that another London instructor, Penny, also did Highland dancing as a child.) Consequently, I approached all ways of moving my body - hopscotch, acrobatic dancing, Red Rover, bike riding, unorganized baseball and football (trust me, I was unorganized) - with vim and vigour.

Once school was over for me - perhaps this was your experience too? - work and kids took priority, so fitness became a thing smushed in whenever and however possible. But if thoughts of moving your body also evoke humiliating memories of gym class and that mean teacher with the whistle around her neck tossing a ball at your head because you can’t keep up? I can see how fitness could become a thing easily discarded.

What I discovered when I first tried a Jazzercise class a few decades ago with my bestie? We could get in and out in just over one hour, so it fit in well with my lifestyle. And the people - instructors, class managers and members - were so welcoming. And happy. I wanted some of that. Turns out, leaving your cares at the door and moving your body to the latest music does put a smile on your face!

And it’s not a competition! What I found was that, while it was challenging to figure out the movements at first, the more I got my butt to class, the better my body responded and the better the workout. So, while a Jazzercise class is a bunch of individuals doing their thing in their way at their pace? When you put a whole roomful of them together? Voila! You get that warm and fuzzy feel of teamwork that I so envied as a high school student.

So, no teachers hurling balls at your head. No ribbons, medals or trophies, but you can earn Jazzerbucks for showing up regularly! At Jazzercise, the fun is in the fitness and the fitness is in the fun. And the soundtrack is constantly changing and ever-so-satisfying.