Kicking and screaming

Journalists, I have been told, tend to research topics before they confront the required subject matter. I, on the other hand, joined a kick aerobics class last week for this fine paper without investigating what I was getting into. Devoid of any prior experience in taking a fitness class, I figured it would be a fun approach. To be more precise, I expected a jolly hour of kicking imaginary objects and hopping up and down without rhyme or reason; but come on, what could really happen?

I mean, I would participate in the class, make a fool of myself because I’m an awkwardly tall and lanky fellow, and then wax about it in this space. Done and done, but was I ever blindsided by the unknown.

Intimidation was my feeling at the onset. Our instructor, Ingen Mueller, was wearing what seemed to be an expensive microphone headset and she looked serious. I debated the merits of running away. I expected a cheery class with the faint chance of breaking a sweat, not this!
But I decided to go with the flow and was soon pulled off the sidelines and jogging around the room. We started leaping over nearly one-foot hurdles (OK, not that impressive), changing direction and running by emphasizing our knees up to the height of our hip — it’s what athletic people describe as “high knees.”

Later, myself and my dozen comrades stood on separate spots with an unobstructed view of a mirror and followed the instructor’s lead. Besides simply an hour of kicking and random hopping, structured martial arts movements ranging from punches and jabs were included. The moves themselves were simplistic enough that anyone could follow the gist of it, but even hardened veterans would get their hearts beating.

For instance in one of the patterns, I was bouncing in the boxer stance, then I would throw a jab with my left arm followed by a sharp hook with the other. Then, in the form of the classic knee-to-the-groin manoeuvre, my right knee that was behind the other leg would twist around to my front and I would raise my knee.

The sheer repetition of the pattern is why it was so vigorous. It was rinse, recycle and repeat. Once again my previous illusion regarding kick aerobics was shattered; there were no breaks, even when we switched from skipping rope to jogging, our legs were always in motion.
Now that doesn`t mean Mueller was a tyrant. She encouraged us throughout and told us to take breaks whenever we pleased, though none of us did besides to take a chug of water. Wanting to look good in comparison with these professionals, I didn’t either.

Finally in the last 10 minutes of the class, we got the chance to lie down on a personal mat. Not to rest, like I sought after, but instead for some ground exercises that expanded from the regular gauntlet of push-ups and sit-ups, such as the plank, for example, where the push-up is held in the starting position on your elbows.

Suddenly while attempting the plank, the pop tunes that I had become accustomed to throughout the workout were transformed into soothing music, as Mueller now led us into slower yoga-inspired stretches to cool down. The song change had distorted the mood so abruptly that I half-expected a church choir to enter the room draped in blue gowns and ready to harmonize.

Overall, the class was a blast. I didn’t expect to get such a kick in the pants — pun intended — however the high-tempo cardiovascular exercise kept the energy at a peak position and I felt more energized walking away from the class.

Mueller, a nutritional sciences student, shared that the feeling is mutual: “The class rejuvenates me. I know that I can always concentrate better [on my studies] afterwards.”
I may have given Mueller a dirty look when she asked our group at large if we were having a good time, but I really did. Kick aerobics is a sure-fire way to burn calories and tone your body. And don’t fret gentlemen, because it’s not merely for the ladies. Although it may not be as masculine as pumping iron at the Grotto, I encourage you to climb the two stories from the weight machines and join in on the fun.

Of course to all my readers, you need to purchase a gym membership or a day pass to do so. The Kick Aerobics class is one of many aerobic options that are available to all ability levels at the Frank Kennedy Centre, no registration required. Maybe I’ll see you there; I’m the tall, lanky kid.