Step Class Misstep

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I saw something last night in my step class that was very disheartening. Now, I have to say that this was the first step class that I ever attended. I'm all for varying one's workout, but step class had never appealed to me so I avoided it until last night when, inexplicably, an overwhelming urge overtook me to give it a try. Of course, I situated myself in the back of the room (who wants to look foolish in a room full of strangers?) beside two young women who also looked new to step. I figured the three of us would bungle our way through the class together.

I kept looking around at the other people in the class, about 25 women and one man. They all looked like step class regulars, many of them lifting their steps two or three levels. They were chatting with each other like a group of regulars often do. Looking at myself in the mirror, I envisioned a huge "beginner" sign on my forehead.

Not long into the throbbing music and staccato voice of our instructor, I realized that this was not a class for beginners and people with no rhythm like me (despite attending Jazzercise classes for almost two years in my early twenties, I never developed a feel for dance-based group ex).

Worse yet, the two ladies that I thought would be my compadres in bungleness were having even more difficulty keeping up than I was. One of them kept stopping, putting her hands on her hips and looking at the other. The other woman would shrug her shoulders and keep trying. About 15 minutes into the 60-minute class, the shrugging friend could no longer deny her hands-on-the-hips friend's discomfort or her own. They picked up their steps, put them away and walked out of the class.

I have to admit that I had an urge to follow them, but I wanted to see this class all the way through. However, I had difficulty keeping up with the fast pace of the class, the T-kicks, the A-kicks, walking around the step with a turn and most especially, the step turns on top of the step (although thanks to my Jazzercise experience, I can proudly call myself an expert at the Grapevine).

As I tried to not look too foolish when the steps led the class to turn to the back of the room where they inevitably found me staring back at them because I never did figure out that turn step (How many times can you blush and smile apologetically during a step class? How about 15 times?), I kept thinking about the two young ladies who left. Both were very overweight. In fact, I would say that the shrugging friend could have been classified as obese. I thought about how much courage it must have taken for the two of them to come into this class. How they must have talked each other into doing it--as long as they did it together. Unfortunately, the class was too advanced, too fast paced for them and they felt that continuing was useless.

It's too bad my gym doesn't have a beginning step class. The regulars seemed to have the steps down pat, but then again, none of them looked like they had ever seen an extra pound on their frames. In fact, to make myself feel better about my own lack of ability, I decided that most of them had probably been on their high school dance squads or cheerleading teams.

I doubt that my two compadres had been on their high school dance team. They certainly weren't regulars, and they didn't know anyone else in the class. I doubt that they'll ever return to a step class. Maybe they will give up on group fitness altogether.

Something is definitely wrong here when classes only seem to be geared to the already fit. Do we really want the overweight and obese in our midst? Sometimes I wonder. -Pam

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