Stepped Outside of my Comfort Zone

Exercise-wise, all I ever do is walk, power-walk and try to run (not very well). Once in a while I do some stuff on the Wii Fit, but I don’t recall ever really breaking a sweat there. And I bought a Shake-Weight recently. I DID! You’re laughing, but that sucker works! The arms and shoulders definitely feel it after doing the Shake-Weight routine!

But I’ve been getting bored. And lazy. I’ve been feeling less and less enthusiastic about getting out of bed in the morning to go to the gym and do the treadmill thing. Oh, it’s a great way to kill two birds with one stone – do a little exercise and read my latest book. But it’s getting boring.

Growing up, fitness was not something that was even on my family’s radar. So everything fitness related is rather unfamiliar to me, except for the walking, running and home exercise stuff I’ve done. I’ve never been truly serious about my exercise so I didn’t know which way to turn when I got bored. My gym offers all kinds of group fitness classes, but I’ve never done one. So I’ve been intimidated to go and do one, especially on my own.

My friend and coworker, Lori goes to my gym and does all kinds of fitness classes there and one day she suggested I join her for one. The thought of trying something new seemed a little less intimidating when I thought about doing it with a friend. So today was the day. I’d agreed to go to a morning step aerobics class with her. I wasn’t too worried about it until she started saying things like, “Just promise me you won’t leave before the class is over.”

“Why would I do that,” I asked? “Do people leave in the middle of these classes?”

“Well, sometimes people who are new to it will bail out before it’s over because they’re not getting the steps right and they’re embarrassed or something.”

I wasn’t all that worried about it until Lori shared that bit of information. I’m a very self-conscious kind of person. Suddenly I was worried that I would be a miserable failure at step aerobics. I didn’t realize how worried I was until I dreamed last night about being in fitness class and noticing people pointing at me and whispering about my inability to keep up.

I woke up this morning with the gym dream still lingering and seriously debating whether I wanted to go to the class. The gym is crowded on Saturdays. I don’t like crowds. This is why I like my 5 a.m. visits to the gym. Not many people there at 5 a.m. But there are also no fitness classes at 5 a.m.

Then I berated myself for even letting myself debate whether it was an option to go. I had promised Lori I would meet her there and I was going to go. How bad could it be? But I had to pep-talk myself all the way to the gym. I had to keep reminding myself that I would feel much worse if I gave in to my insecurities than I would if I tried my best and suffered a bit of embarrassment. (And why is it that perceived embarrassment is always so much worse than the real thing?)

Once at the gym, I set myself up in the back of the classroom where I could keep an eye on the more experienced steppers. I followed the instructor and just did the best I could. And the instructor was great about reminding everyone to just do what they could. If we needed to just focus on the steps, we should feel free to skip the coordinating arm stretches. I followed Lori’s advice and when I found myself unable to figure out a pattern of steps, I just marched or did basic steps until I could get back on track. There was one pattern of steps that was very intricate and I could not seem to pick it up no matter how many times I tried. I’ve gotta admit that I contemplated walking out then, but I looked around and saw other newbies looking just as lost as me, and that gave me the boost to stick with it. The longer I stuck with it, the smaller the chance that my insecurities were going to beat me.

And? It was awesome! I did it! I stuck it out right through to the end. I was sweating like crazy by the time we were done and I’d had fun! I knew before it was over that I want to do it again.

Lori, her friend, Lynn and I gathered together when it was all over. Our faces were red and we were all sweating.

“That was fun,” I told Lori!

“That was hard,” she laughed and Lynn agreed. “That wasn’t the usual instructor and this class was way more intense than what we do with the normal instructor.”

“Yeah,” Lynn said. “That probably wasn’t the best class for a beginner to start out with.

“Well, I want to do it again,” I said. “So that must be a good sign!”

We parted ways then. Lori wanted to do some free-weights and I needed to head home. But I am definitely feeling better about trying more of these fitness classes. I’ll bet Lori doesn’t even know what a huge favor she did for me just by being there and encouraging me.

20 thoughts on “Stepped Outside of my Comfort Zone

  1. Oh my, I was so glad to read this post. I keep thinking I’m the only blogger on WordPress who isn’t fitness focused. Like you, I was not raised in a fitness, or even nutrition atmosphere, so I’m not naturally inclined to do either. I’m not a vegan or a vegetarian, and it seems every blogger I read IS one. I wrote a blog on guilt this week, and this is another thing to add to my list of feeling guilty!

    I joined a gym three times, and each time I never ended up going. I learned that if I have to get my a$$ out of bed and drive to go workout, I wasn’t going to do it. So, a few years ago I bit the bullet and bought a top-notch treadmill for home. It was well worth the money because I use at least 4 to 6 days a week. Plus, I also have a second walk every day outdoors with the dog at night.

    I also found some yoga DVD’s and I do that at home too. I just can’t stand having to leave the house to work-out. Some people say it’s what motivates them, but it makes me exhausted just thinking about having to go somewhere to stay fit. The yoga DVD’s are my very favorite. They are just a very basic yoga that leaves me feeling refreshed and limber.

    Sorry I’m so long winded today, but you touched on a subject I could completely relate to. Thank you for sharing it.


  2. I had the same kind of situations with my family; exercising wasn’t in our vocabulary. I’m just glad that I stopped thinking, and living, like that :) Great post and I look forward to sharing more with you :))


  3. Good for you, Terri! I have always avoided classes because of the potential for embarrassment, so I think you really deserve to be commended. I’m fortunate to have a an elliptical machine, stationary bike, and free weights at home–so I workout in front of the TV. That helps with the boredom.

    Sorry to have been gone all week. I think I’m back to my normal routine now. Hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend.



  4. Look at you! I’m impressed! I used to take Taekwondo classes when I was younger (as in, grade school days), and it was a lot of fun. I was also in amazing shape. I’ve thought about trying to find some kind of extracurricular activity to do on a regular basis to keep me in shape, but have been afraid to make the time commitment.


  5. Good on you! Her comment ahead of time probably helped more than she realized: she gave you a heads-up that people get frustrated, and some leave. If you hadn’t have known that ahead of time, it might have been more intimidating when it actually happened.

    I’m as coordinated in a step class as a rhino on roller blades so I stick to my home workouts .. but you’ve reminded me that it’s good to mix it up .. and I will.



  6. I am so excited for you! I never grew up with fitness or sports, but I always wanted to be fit and trim. I admired the girls who had toned legs and arms and flat bellies, but I could never stick to a plan. Then I began my family and really let myself go. After my 4th child was born, I looked in the mirror one day and thought “I do NOT want to look this way.” And that’s what jump-started things for me. That was 10 years ago. At that time I forced myself to exercise, but now, I live for it! What you described today is exactly how I feel after a run or elliptical workout. It’s exhilerating! So I’m ecstatic that you found something you enjoy – running isn’t for everybody!
    I’m also proud of you for stepping out of your comfort zone. I wish I would do that more. Sometimes I wonder about the things I may be missing out on because I’m uncomfortable and self-conscious.
    Anyway, Bravo! :)


  7. What’s a comfort zone? I don’t think there’s ever been one for me to step in or out of. Hmmm. Does eating choc ice cream with a good book count? I don’t mean you eat the ice cream with a book of course. I use a spoon not the book. A big spoon.


  8. Awesome!! We did some step aerobics in high school to help get us in shape for track. I love my Kinect (like Wii, but you don’t have to hold any remote or controller since it uses sensors). I have a Fitness game I really like to do that has different workouts, everything from cardio to toning. Heck, the initial assessment it has you go through was a workout itself. I’m glad you found something different that you enjoyed. I think it’s important to mix it up that way you’re less likely to get bored, because let’s face it: exercise isn’t always enjoyable.


  9. Group exercise classes are the only things that keep me going BACK to the gym here – they are fun, folks of all levels in them, and you can totally mix it up class to class! My next goal is to hit a spinning class. Maybe this summer…


  10. Nicely done! It’s always good to try something new, and yes, just set up in the back of the class and go for it! It must have been nice to learn that your first class – that you hung in for the duration for – was more intense than usual.

    Oh, and I want to know about the Shake weight. Really? I’ve only ever heard of them from Ellen and it was too funny!:


  11. Bravo. Sometimes the hardest step is the first one. I’ve never been one for group exercise classes (I think that comes from years of Army PT). I prefer to exercise alone at my own pace. That’s why I drift towards things like running, skiing. My only competition is myself. On the rare occasion when I have run with one or two others, it has helped improve my times, but I still prefer to run solo.

    Shake weight? Now all you need is a Hawaii Chair.


  12. Good for you! I can really relate to the boredom and the discomfort with trying new things at the gym. I have often thought of trying classes, but being inexperienced and/or not very good as tended to hold me back. I’m glad you had a good time.


  13. Good for you sticking it out. You’ll pick up the more complicated steps the more you go. I have two left feet, that’s why I could never do Zumba or any of those dance exercise classes.


  14. What a good friend you have in Lori! Aerobics classes can be challenging — I remember how self-conscious I was when I first tried one — but they’re great places to meet like-minded people and break a sweat. And we in the Midwest need indoor exercise options. So keep up the good work!


  15. I’m still just doing the dog walking thing -not as much as I should be doing it but more than I was doing it in the fall and through December. With weather conditions not being really all that bad this year, I don’t have that much of an excuse to fall back on so have to be honest and say it -pure and simple -laziness! Gotta change that aspect -a lot -don’t I? Mandy and my son’s girlfriend as well as Miss Maya have all been enjoying the dance things with the WII. I haven’t tried anything with that machine as yet -mainly because I haven’t been shown diddly squat yet about how to operate it! LOL (Hey! Any excuse is better than having none, isn’t it?) Any kind of aerobics stuff truly scares the living daylights out of me as gracefulness is not a component I was ever blessed with at all! Plus, not sure if the arthritis junk would permit me to do that anyway but good for you for getting into that! The more you do now and follow through with it, the easier the aging process will deal with you. I do believe that now but wish I’d paid a little more attention to it in my younger days!


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