Bodypump for the Body Lump

Denisa and I went down to San Antonio to visit my sister and her family for Thanksgiving. I don’t see her more than once a year (San Antonio is far away), but like most people, we keep in touch through social media and the like. She started working as a trainer at the local YMCA a while ago, and so there’s been a number of “Come work out with me!” posts in her feed. I tend to gloss over those posts, because exercise, far away, and why. But when we got to San Antonio, she mentioned that she was teaching a class one of the mornings we were there.

“You should both come!”

I laughed it off. Like I was going to go to a gym while I was on vacation. I don’t even go to the gym when I’m at home. Why would I be crazy enough to put my body through anything remotely strenuous while I was supposed to be relaxing?

Except my kids talked to her kids, and they become convinced they wanted to try out the class. So I told Denisa, “You should go with them,” because . . . I can’t honestly remember the reason I gave. Just to see what it was like? Denisa decided to give it a shot, mainly because she likes trying new things. And then all the kids decided they’d rather sleep past 9am than get up, so they all bailed.

Which left me feeling kind of responsible. I was sending Denisa off to a class on her own. (As far as being a newbie is concerned. My sister was going to be there (obviously) and her husband. But still.) So on the spur of the moment, I agreed to go too. It was just a single class. 55 minutes. How bad could it be? I had no idea what kind of class it was or what we’d be doing. But surely I could do anything for 55 minutes.

[Narrator’s voice: He couldn’t.]

We got there, and I discovered the class is called “Bodypump,” and it had a whole bunch of equipment. Barbells, weights, mats, and some kind of step thing you had to assemble yourself. This led me to the immediate problem of one of my kryptonites: making decisions in the heat of the moment. I was supposed to choose what weights I was going to use. Since I still had no idea what exactly I was going to be doing with those weights, I picked 20 pounds for the bar and something like 12 pounds for the barbells. It was me, my brother in law, and a bunch of women of varying ages. Social pressure might have gotten to me a bit. Some of those women were loading on the weights. Did I really want to be prancing around with like 2 pounds of weight when some people were using 15 or 20?

[Narrator’s voice: Yes.]

So I committed. I grabbed the weights, and got all situated, and we began. I discovered a number of things in quick succession.

First of all, I believe someone secretly replaced my normal sister with a cyborg model. Seriously. She was churning through the exercises like she was using balloons for weight, and she was using much more weight than I was. Arm curls! Triceps! Squats! Abs! She ran the class through each muscle group one at a time, and I’m not sure she broke a sweat.

Second, I realized I was in trouble as soon as she said, “We’re going to start off with some light warm ups.” And I was already struggling in the warmups. I began to look over to those lighter weights with envy. Why had I thought heavier weights made sense? But hey. 55 minutes, right?

About 20 minutes into the routine, my legs were completely shot. I’ve done some weight lifting over the years, but I’ve always just assumed my legs were doing fine without the need for weight training. They take me everywhere I need to go, after all. Why do anything mean to them in response. And who cares about having fit legs of all things?

That morning, my legs decided to tell me just what they thought of this idea. For a while, I forced them to keep going. I didn’t want to be the idiot new guy who just sat down in the middle of the class, did I?

[Narrator’s voice: Yes, he did.]

Five minutes after that, I just plopped down and stared at my sister. Denisa was behind me, still going strong because she had made better weight decisions. My brother in law took me to a water fountain. The rest of the class was a series of “me making attempts to start exercising, because surely I was feeling better by now, only to discover that no, I wasn’t.”

The good news is that I’d gotten to the point where I didn’t care what anyone in that room thought of me, so I didn’t feel that bad about any social stigmas. And sure, some of them were probably in their sixties, and one of them was pregnant, but why in the world had I assumed I would be as strong as any of them? Muscles aren’t measured in beard length, after all.

It was a kinder, humbler Bryce who hobbled out of the YMCA that morning.

Except the lessons didn’t stop there. Apparently I’d pushed my body well past its limits. I had trouble walking for the rest of the day, with my legs randomly giving out on my whenever I tried anything too strenuous, like walking or stepping up on a curb. The next day, the strength was there, but the pain set in. It hurt to sit. Hurt to stand. Hurt to lift my arms. Hurt to do just about anything for the next three days.

Will I be doing Bodypump ever again? Honestly, I’d consider it if I could do it for free. The experience has made me wonder what sort of classes my university’s gym offers. It was a really fast way to work out all my muscles, I’ll say that much. And the fact that I folded so easily is a sign to me that I need to be doing more with weight than just keeping it off.

Now if I can only find the time . . .


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