Thursday, March 25, 2010

Class #47 Step Wednesday 5:30 p.m. (Ronnie)

I’ve used Spring Break week to go to some of the most popular classes on the schedule and Ronnie’s Step classes on Monday/Wednesday certainly qualify as Club favorites. He’s been teaching them for a long time (around 16 years) and has developed a large fan base because he’s a wizard at Step.

One of the things that makes Ronnie’s classes so popular is his inventive choreography. He knows a few thousand different ways to step on, over or around the bench – usually with some quick-footed combinations in-between. It’s fun to watch he and the regulars do it but I’ll admit that I’ve been pretty nervous about taking my turn at bat.

I originally planned to save Ronnie’s class until I had done three or four other Step classes and had a better idea about how they work. Well, before today I had only made it to one Step basic class and I was lost in there most of the time so my expectations for “success” coming into Ronnie’s class were pretty humble.

The reality was better than I hoped for though because Ronnie, along with being great at choreography, is a master at giving cues. He tells you everything you’re going to do before it’s done and then he builds the routine in a way that gives you the best chance to catch on. That said there were plenty of times when I clearly wasn’t doing what everyone else was but if I stayed patient, in a few more beats I could rejoin them and do something that I had mastered.

Along with watching Ronnie, I was also keeping an eye on my neighbors and picking up clues from them as well. The tricky part when you’re doing all this looking around is to make sure that one part of your focus stays on the bench so you don’t entirely miss it.

The class went by quickly and I had fun doing it. Beforehand, I thought I’d feel so klutzy that I couldn’t enjoy it but that wasn’t the case. I can see how doing the routine on a regular basis would allow one to jazz it up some and make it even more fun. For instance, Ronnie would throw in a flourish here and there that the “good steppers” could easily handle while the more remedial among us could stick with a more basic step and still have fun.

Step class on gym floor

One other comment about the class – it’s a terrific workout – I was pouring sweat about half-way through and only part of that was from being nervous. By the way, I only used two risers (one on each side) and that was plenty high to get my heart rate way up. The first Step Basic class I took, I used four risers and that was a mistake for a newcomer.

Ronnie ended the class with a ten-minute ab routine. I was relieved to have made it through the step portion and mistakenly thought I could relax….oops – the ab section was a killer. I had to rest on several occasions murmuring “I got nowhere else to go” (the unofficial ab war cry).

As I mentioned above, Ronnie Stone has been teaching at the Club for about 16 years. He told me that he first got certified by the AFAA in 1991 and has been teaching ever since. Ronnie related that as a youngster, growing up on a farm near El Paso Arkansas, he had been 40 pounds overweight. When he discovered exercise, he said, he gradually lost the weight and fell in love with the fitness world.

Along with teaching group exercise classes, Ronnie is also a certified personal trainer through NASM. Outside of the fitness world, he’s taught Special Education in the public schools for 11 years and is currently the Office Manager for physician Joseph M. Beck.

Ronnie’s friend and fellow group exercise stand out, Krissa Thoreson, has encouraged him to be a national presenter at the annual IDEA (International Dance Exercise Association) Conference in San Diego because she says, “he doesn’t know how good he is”, but so far he’s demurred. Since he likes challenges though, maybe he’ll do it someday and dazzle teachers from all over the country.

Tonight’s class had about 20 in it – all women except for one other guy – bless his heart, and me. The $25 gift certificate goes to Susan Bradley.

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