That’s one small step for a Pat (followed by a whole bunch of bigger and trickier steps). Well, it took almost 20 years but today I attended my first Step class. I left a sweaty mess but managed to never totally fall off the bench. (Is it permissible to call them benches?)
I keep referring to this type of class as “bench” and people stop and look at me strangely. Well, that’s what it used to be called.
I still remember the first time I ever heard about “bench” class. I read about it in one of our trade journals around 1989. I pointed out the article to Deon Pillard who was the Club’s Fitness Director at the time. Deon skimmed the article and quickly dismissed this as a fad – “that’ll never make it” she assured me. Well, none of us can be right all the time.
In the beginning, there weren’t any manufacturers of benches for aerobics classes. Each bench was instead custom made by a local carpenter. I imagine we gave the carpenter a photo and said build ‘em like this. They were made of some fairly stout wood and weighed a ton. If you could carry the bench to the gym or studio, odds were you were strong enough to endure the class. Instead of risers, these benches came in different heights and were color-coded.
Step class on gym floor circa 1991
We’ve come a long way baby. Today’s steps are light but sturdy made of hard plastic and come with risers to easily adjust the height. The higher the step, the harder the work. I ambitiously opted for four risers (two per side) and that was probably about two more than I needed.
Our teacher today, Trish Blair, asked up front who had never done a Step class and fortunately, I wasn’t the only one to raise my hand. There were three of us back in the corner doing our best to keep up. Trish was really patient and sweet with us, assuring us that succeeding at “step” was basically a matter of learning all the terminology, words like: “A-step”, “L-step”, “Up and Over”, “Mambo Cha Cha” and the like.
The first time through, I was nailing it but then we sped up a bit and as Trish went back to former steps my brain couldn’t recall what it had “learned” before. Still, it wasn’t a complete disaster; I was able to hang in there pretty well (I must admit that I never really got the arm movements cause I was concentrating so hard on the foot placement). It was a terrific workout and I was so happy when Trish gave us a little break halfway through to get a sip of water.
The last ten minutes of the class we did abs using a Swiss ball. I’m afraid my abs were still stinging from Kris Mougeot’s Friday morning work over. Then, like some bad dream, I look out the back window of the room and there she is snickering at my shabby form. Mougeot is haunting me (actually, she was just waiting to teach the 5:30 Hard Core Stretch class which I happily announced I wasn’t taking today).
There was a good turnout for class, twenty-something. There was a guy in there early but he didn’t stay the whole time so, like usual, it was me and a bunch of women in better shape than me. It’s okay; I’m getting accustomed to it.
The $25 gift certificate goes to Michele Adams. Congrats Michele.
So, ends week number one. I haven’t planned out week two yet but will get right on that.
See you soon.