Boy, do I have some Tales to Tell...
Thursday, May 29, 2003
Here I am recovering from my latest bout with the flu. I am recovering enough to be able to work tomorrow. But not at the gym. Of course, I am in the midst of planning when my first weight workout is going to be; most likely Sunday. Plus I go on vacation in 2 weeks, so I must plan to look fine and fabulous for that trip. Although, why I need to, I am not sure.

Which leads me to why most of us work out to begin with. Most of us, probably about 99%, work on our physical appearance to attract a mate/suitor/sex toy. If you are in the same relationship for the past 5 years, do you really still have to do that? Why is it difficult to let go of that thinking even when you know that your relationship is safe and intact? Why do we still cling to the idea that we must look "fit and fabulous" because you never know when your beloved may appear even when your beloved is travelling with you?

My goal for the next two weeks is to work out, teach my classes, and begin some kind of mind/body workout. Hopefully, I won't drive myself into some sort of frenzy to get in the best shape I can for my trip. Later.
Tuesday, May 27, 2003
It has been a miserable Memorial Day weekend and it seems like my misery will continue for a few more days. I have been sick with the flu. Besides being unable to breath properly and having a scratchy throat, I have also been unable to work out. Of course, this has sent me into a frenzy of self-loathing. What is it about working out that makes us become this way? There seems to be a small population of people who become extremely anxious when they cannot get their regular workout in. I am definitely a member of that group.

When I begin to get sick, I don't dread the fact that I may be wheezing & coughing or the fact that I may have a fever and a general feeling of malaise & depression. What I fear the most is that I will not be able to teach my classes but certainly not that I won't be making the money because of that. What really scares me is the fact that I will not be getting my regular cardiovascular workout accomplished which also means that I will be missing my regular weight training regimen. At this point in my worries, I begin to think that I will gain about 50 pounds and about 15 inches on my waist. All this within the first hour of getting sick.

Needless to say, I begin to do things that do not contribute to me getting over the upcoming flu. I begin to watch what I eat by curtailing my intake of food. Since I tend to crave comfort food while sick, I begin eating steaks, fried chicken, ice cream, chocolate, and all other food items that do not supply proper nutrition to help my body fight and recover from the flu. Now, it's not that I eat huge amounts of "comfort" food, it's just that I don't eat anything healthy like fresh vegetables which are high in vitamins and anti-oxidants or drink healthy juices and fluids to help flush out my system. All this leads to self-flagellation because of my lack of self-control and respect for my body. And that's just the "eating" part.

I also become so concious of what I wear because I have now missed at least 5 days of working out which feels like 5 months to me. I feel like my stomach is beginning to protrude and my love handles are so large, I can use them to hold the comfort food which I am shoveling into my gullet. My only focus at this point is to figure out my first possible day of returning to the gym. At which point, I run into the gym full-force trying to get the best workout, in what I think is the most efficient way to burn calories and gain lean muscle mass.

I also proceed to ingest as much over-the-counter medication to help clear this flu out of my system. I am so drugged up that I feel like I am floating which in turn makes me feel more sick. What kind of obsession is this? Am I the only one who sees illness as a roadblock to my exercise regimen? Has this "need" to work out despite illness become a "sickness"? Am I being a good model of health to my students who look to me for proper living? Or am I just a human being with the same hang-ups and issues as others? This I wonder while I sit here in my comfy sweatpants and fleece zip-up sipping my cup of Theraflu while planning my workout goals for the next two weeks. Later.
Saturday, May 17, 2003
I never thought about this until today but it does make sense that it may just be possible to find our life partner at the gym. If you think about it, most people who attend the gym, on some sort of regular basis, have quite a few similar characteristics: they feel the need to take care of their bodies physically, they are conscious of their appearance, and they enjoy being in the company of others. Those are pretty good qualities to look for in a mate. For some reason, I never seemed to see the gym as a source of any love interests. I certainly looked at it as a source of lustful wantings.

Now, don't get me wrong. As a staff member of a gym, I frown upon staff using the gym membership as a dating pool. I do not ever recommend that any staff of the gym date any part of the membership. This is especially true when it comes to trainers/instructors dating their clients/clientele:

There once was a female member who insisted that a group exercise instructor be fired because he was seeing other members. My first reaction to this was that "Is there really a straight male group exercise instructor?" My next reaction was to immediately find out what happened. Apparently, said female member, who we will call Anastacia, had been taking the instructor's (who we will call Rupert) class AND hiring him as a Personal Trainer. Rupert just happen to be this gorgeous man with a body of a Greek god. Anastacia had also been taking other "intimate private lessons" with Rupert EVEN THOUGH she knew that he was married and had a family. Anastacia's and Rupert's sessions continued for eight months.

Well, one day, Anastacia went out to dinner with couple of girlfriends, one of them we shall call Sheryl. After sitting down to dinner, Sheryl informed the group that she was taking this fabulous class with this fabulous instructor who was absolutely gorgeous and who also had the body of a Greek god. Anastacia knew right away who this instructor was but just smiled and played along without saying a word. After a couple of drinks and a few more stories from Sheryl about this diety that she takes class from, Sheryl leaned in and said that she had a secret to share with the group. Apparently, Sheryl had been having SEXUAL RELATIONS with said instructor and his name was Rupert. Sheryl also added that it was just sex and that she KNOWS that Rupert was also having sex with other women in his class.

So the moral of this story is, be careful who you pick up at the gym. Remember that they too can use the gym membership as a dating pool. Later.
Friday, May 16, 2003
You know you are getting old when:

1. You wonder how you ever found the motivation to work out beyond teaching your regularly scheduled group exercise classes.

2. You think that everyone in the gym is younger and fitter than you.

3. You would rather watch the E! True Hollywood Story on "Gimme A Break!" than go teach your favorite class.

4. You are more concerned about the ache in your hip than BEING hip.

5. You pray that nobody shows up for class so that you can go home and listen to your Cyndi Lauper Greatest Hits CD.

6. You start to ask for "old school" club hits on your new step aerobics tape.

7. You would rather buy a pair of 36" waist pants than do any abdominal exercises.

8. You are complain about your weight gain to your friend in South Jersey as you chow down on a pint of Godiva Chocolate Ice Cream with Chocolate Hearts.

9. You can barely get through the first 20 minutes of a fitness class (warm-up included).

10. You shout out encouragement during class... and it really is meant to encourage YOU to keep going.

Whew, I am exhausted. Gotta go lie down. Later.
Wednesday, May 14, 2003
Sometimes I wish I had more control over the daily operations of the gym. Sometimes I wish that people who come to the gym would just work out and go home. Sometimes I wish that I was born 6-feet tall with blond hair, blue eyes, and the body of a greek god... Oh, well.

It's starting to get warm in NYC and, true to form, the gym and group fitness classes are overflowing with people eager to shed those last ten pounds before the start of the summer. Of course, this means that some regular attendees do not get into class or onto that piece of equipment as fast as usual. My only comment to this is:

Please do not ask me to do something about it. This is the club's management problem not mine.

I have been asked many times to report problems to the management; which I have. Unfortunately, I tend to be looked at as a "troublemaker". Most staff complaints are tossed by the wayside; especially the ones about problems with club operations. Our voices are considered bothersome & whiny and are listened too but not heeded. We honestly would like things to change because it would make our jobs easier. We really don't like taking an apathetic stance on most member's issues but we do not have any power to make changes to the system. Most management, especially corporate management, makes it clear that they are responsible for the operations of the clubs and that their decisions are not ours to make. I say, "Excellent! That's what they are paid for."

if you have any issues with the way I teach class (speed of class, boring choreography, obscene dress), then please tell me and I will rememdy it. I will even go as far as saying that if an instructor is routinely tardy for class, then approach them and ask them if it is possible for them to be more punctual because, like their time, your's is also precious. Other than that, we, instructors, are powerless to the goings-on at the gym. If the classes are not checked in OR the equipment is missing OR the air-conditioning is not working, there is nothing we can do. We can ask for things but we cannot guarantee that it will be done.

What you can do, as a member, is speak NICELY & CALMLY to the management, club level or corporate, and ask that these issues be taken care of soon. Remember that you are a paying member and should be given the most basic ammenities promised to you when you joined. Later.
Tuesday, May 06, 2003
As an instructor, I can tell you that when I teach class, I get exceptionally irritated when people talk to each other during class. I have been in this situation a handful of times and as I get older, I get more irritated and less tolerant of these situations. The other night, everytime I finished an exercise and went into the stretch period of the targeted muscle (how's that for fitness instructor speak), these two girls (and I do mean that as a measure of maturity) would begin to chat about various things AND, of course, not pay attention to proper stretching techniques. Their conversations were loud enough to be heard by everyone in class. Some of my regulars began to glare at them. (Partly because I have created this cult following who will do my bidding if I ask.) I approached them and also stared at them to show them my irritation. I will spare you the rest.

What I would like to know is if I am the only one who finds this annoying. If you think about it, the reason we attend a class, whether it be step, sculpting, cooking, or physics, we are attending because we want to participate in said class. If you come to a group exercise class, you have made the decision to participate in the class. If you have other things to do besides concentrate on class participation, THEN STAY THE FUCK AWAY!!!!!!! It baffles me as to why anyone would go someplace to take part in something but not take part in it only to do something else while in that place. Why, oh why?

Have we, as a society, become so mindless that we attend classes just for the sake of attending a class? Do we have no respect for others that we don't consider the that our actions could be distracting, intrusive, and disrespectful? Are we so starved for attention that we will do anything at any cost to get it? I wonder if these are the reasons we do things like talk during a class and chat loudly on our cell phones? If you have a friend or know someone that insists on talking during some class, kindly inform that that you will not be participating in their obvious lack of respect for people and their pathetic attempt to gain attention. Later.
Friday, May 02, 2003
Do you really know who your group exercise class instructor is? Okay, before we move on, I just want to inform all that read this that we are no longer just "aerobics" instructors, we are "group exercise" instructors. We do far more than teach the traditional "aerobics" class; we also do weight training, mind/body, and alignment classes. Now that I have cleared that up...

I was thinking about the image most instructors project to their students. Here are some common misconceptions about us and the truths:

1. We are all wanna-be performers just waiting for that big break into "showbiz". Although this used to be true about 15 years ago, an overwhelming majority of instructors are not looking to break into showbiz. Some of us hold down regular desk jobs as account managers and sales representatives. Some work in the education industry as kindergaten teachers and physics professors. There are even a select few of us who work as chefs, emergency room doctors, and nuclear physicists.

2. We are always happy, cheery, and optimistic people. If you believe that, I have a bridge I can sell you cheap. Like all other "human beings", we have our ups and downs. There are days when we can teach four classes in a row and still have the most positive outlook on life. And there are days when we wish nothing but hatred and pain for that person in class who gets on our nerves. Overall, we tend to be optimistic and we tend to understand that we are in a customer service environment BUT cut us some slack when we are not the most attentive or positive person; just smile at us and enjoy our class.

3. We are all health-nuts who watch what we consume and when we consume it. We do watch what we eat and when we eat - mostly plenty and often. We are all very aware of the type of foods we eat. There are a bunch of instructors who are very strict when it comes to eating properly to promote good health - the rest of us like to call them "new to the business". Most of us are sugar/carbohydrate/caffeine addicts; what do you think fuels us for these classes?!?!? A bunch of us are even smokers (hard to believe with all the oxygen we need to intake) and a large chunk of the population even drinks alcohol (some of us work in that industry too).

4. We have infinite amounts of energy and never tire of what we do. Change that to we cope by ingesting a lot of caffeine and we are really good at "phoning it in". When it comes down to it, we do like what we do and we do have the energy and motivation to do it. When your regular instructor decides to sub out their class, the last thing they want to hear is your complaint that you did not like their sub and that we ruined your week by not teaching class. Remember that most instructors do have some sort of life outside of the studio they teach in and sometimes we just need to tend to that. We also have limits to what we can do and need to "recharge our batteries".

5. As instuctors, we only give good and proper advice when it comes to exercise. We can give you advice when it comes to exercising. This advice tends to be tainted by our own judgement, misconception, and biases. Most of us can only speak from what we know plus what we experience. A good instructor will be able to give you sound general advice but speak to a specialist when it comes to things like nutrition and mental health. Giving advice more specific than eating well-balanced meals and exercising regularly puts as in a diagnostic position and the gym setting is not the place for that. Be careful.

So, before you peg us as happy-go-lucky experts who sing & dance, think again. Later.
I'm just writing down some of the things that run through my head.

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Location: New York, New York, United States

Eating up the City before it eats me up. I'm a freelance cook who spends his free time working out, cooking for "my man", and wondering why the Right is so concerned about my bedroom.

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