We are all lined up against the wall, sweating and panting. The warm up session is nothing like we imagined, here there be no jumping jacks or jogging on the spot. We are instead treated to walking pushups, burpees and endless squats.
I look around and the women and two men gathered in this room are all here for different but somewhat similar reasons, keep fit, lose weight, become healthier. The bodies in the room are not preening, nobody’s feeling conscious about their tummy, thigh or butt. Those promo pics you see about gyms lie, there is no time to smile and pose, sweaty as we are, our immediate needs are lubrication and getting through the class. I realise something as my eyes sweep across the room, our bodies are strong, able to withstand much more than we know. As we partner up for the next challenge, this becomes more apparent, we spur each other on as the sets of sit ups get more difficult. I realise that as much as I enjoy the joy of solo workouts, I had missed the camaraderie that comes from working out in a class.
Our instructor Joan is relentless, she gently but firmly pushes us to the limit. There is always that moment in a fitness class where you begin to wonder why the hell you signed up for it. And also the realisation as you finish set after set, and get closer to the end that you do not necessarily need to have an Instragam fit body to feel good about yourself.
For too long we have been fed on one type of image when it comes to our bodies, scientific studies have been conducted to show us what the world deems attractive, more so for the female body. This body that births, feeds, cares and helps us get from one place to another. Learning to value our body for what it can do as opposed to what it looks like feels like a foreign concept in today’s world.
Working out has taught me to value my body, its strength, to just enjoy it. For me it brings back the childish joy of moving your body for the pure physical pleasure of using it. Being a grown up means time is of the essence and majority of it must be spent making a living — working out is thus viewed as a luxury until it becomes a necessity. However enjoying your body need not mean a gym membership, walking, swimming or even dancing to your favourite jams are all ways to enjoy your physical beauty, not for the benefit of anyone else but yourself.
As our class nears the end, our instructor tells us we are free to leave or try the burpee and step up exercise, a few die hards hold strong while the rest of us flock to the exit. To be honest, nobody wants to dampen their sense of accomplishment by falling down from exhaustion mid-burpee. When I get home I find myself flexing in front of the mirror, is that the cousin of a bicep I see forming? Yasssssss.