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Adventures in Group Fitness

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"I'm sexy and I know it" blares from the speakers as a perfectly sculpted, overly enthusiastic cheerleader straps on her headset and starts the warm-up with a little bob and weave. Dressed in my 1980's-style spandex shorts and cotton headband, I feel like an extra in a Jane Fonda video. Group fitness is not my thing. I'm much more of a loner when it comes to working out. I like to plug into my ipod and hit the pavement, running for miles through the hills of the lake, lost in my music. But tonight, at the persistent urging of my best friend, I'm standing in a room filled to capacity with men and women of all shapes and sizes. We are apparently all going to kickbox — together. "I'm sexy and I know it." I'm not feeling it. Could be the headband. Or the spandex. Yeah, it's definitely the spandex. Anyway, I'm here so I figure I might as well make the best of it. I start to bob and weave. I glance at the clock. Two minutes down, fifty-eight to go. This is going to be a long class. I make it my mission to focus my attention on the instructor. I figure if I can tune out the chaos that surrounds me, I might have a shot. Halfway through class, I have thrown kicks and jabs in every direction, and I have to admit, I'm tired. I cross-bounce over to my friend to see if maybe we can cross-bounce out of here a little early. But she's not having it. I duck as the woman to my left nearly impales me with a flying roundhouse kick. That's what I get for trying to make a break for it. I cross-bounce back to my corner of the room and try not to sulk as we move into squat thrusts. As I'm squatting and thrusting and sweating and swearing, the appeal of group fitness, which I never understood, suddenly becomes crystal clear. There is no escape. Once you enter the group fitness studio, you have no choice but to work out — hard. You jump when the instructor says jump, and you don't stop jumping until the instructor says class dismissed. Quitting is not an option. Unlike working out alone, where you have no one to answer to but yourself, in here the threat of ridicule — or flying roundhouse kicks — is enough to keep you in your place. With that thought in mind, I start to bob and weave with renewed vigor, intent on sweating it out until the bitter end. "I'm sexy and I know it."

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