Thursday, April 8, 2010

Class #71 Step Thursday 8:30 a.m. (Betsy)

Now that I’ve completed 5 or 6 Step classes – they don’t worry as much as they did in the beginning. Even one out on the gym floor – like this class – isn’t too frightening. I know that Betsy will be tough but I can at least fake my way through a Step class now.

Betsy starts off the class with a nice gentle warm up and slowly builds the routine piece by piece. We do all of the moves separately before putting them together in ever growing chains of complexity. The way she methodically constructs the choreography gives me a much better shot at completing the final masterpiece. Not that I ever quite get it but I can’t blame it on Betsy’s teaching or cueing, which are excellent.

Actually, it’s pretty cool how the whole thing fits together at the end of class. I’m a little envious of my classmates – most of whom have got the whole thing nailed. I can sometimes go for ten or twelve moves before blowing up on some twirling leaping traverse of the step. Once I lose my place then it takes only a few deep breaths and a re-orientation before diving back in. No big deal, just not nearly as smooth as the dedicated stepophiles.

Along with the intricate choreography, Betsy also throws in some repetitive moves that aren’t hard to learn but which are designed to intensify the workout and jump the heart rate way up. These are usually some kind of quick paced squat or lunge followed by a strong jump from one side of the step to the other, over and over for a 60 second push. I hit my highest heart rate of the class in these pushes – about 143 bpm. (By the way, in an exciting development, I found a old Polar watch in my office this morning to go with my recently acquired (new and improved) heart rate monitor so now I can measure my heart rate in any class – yea!)

Steppin' with Betsy

At the end of class I check my numbers to see that my average heart rate is “only” 109 (this is a little low compared to my average of 133 in bike classes). I asked Betsy after class what hers was and she said about 130. The difference, I believe, has to do with Step class aptitude. There are plenty of times I have to slow down because I’m off the beat or completely lost. Once a comfort level has been achieved with the known universe of Step moves then the heart rate can be kept elevated the whole time – I imagine that’s the case for most of my classmates.

Classes like Step or Zumba give the brain a workout at the same time they exercise the body. Paying close attention to the movements and their sequencing requires an acute mental participation. It’s also the “fun” of these classes; in fact I’m sure that veteran students love the challenge of a new, never before seen move. Meanwhile, we rookies, just need to accept that there’s a learning curve to be scaled before Step nirvana can be realized.

There are about 20 in class this morning including several other guys – in fact, these fellows actually seem to know what they are doing, unlike me. The $25 gift certificate goes to Charlotte Payne.

Next up a Power Pump this afternoon with Bonnie.

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