Before I became a fitness instructor, I believed those television ads that told me I could become fit in my own living room. Using a variety of torturous instruments, I could tone and firm various portions of my anatomy in just three easy payments.

 My rowing machine now stands in the corner of my balcony where I use it as a laundry rack. I easily store my easy-to-store GUTBUSTER in my sock drawer, and I split the seams on my Trim Jeans. My apartment is a graveyard of grim reminders of my commitment to physical fitness. The only reducing done was to my bank account.

 But fitness means pain, and pain means misery. If there is any truth to the adage that misery loves company, then to become physically fit, you need to roll off the couch and into an aerobics class.    

 Aerobics classes are hour-long torture sessions carried out under the vigilance of an instructor who is so well proportioned that she could pause mid-sit-up to pose for a glamour magazine. While you sweat, she glistens. While your lungs sound like threshing machines, she calmly chants, “Forty more. Yes you can.” When you emerge from that soggy pool of your own perspiration, you learn she gave birth three days earlier.

 Attending an aerobics class is intimidating, but I offer hope. After years of instructing, I devised a systematic strategy for becoming fit by aerobics. Introducing: Mike’s 5-Step System for Cheating at Aerobics.

 1) Avoid Beginners’ Classes.

Beginners’ classes are particularly perilous for the beginner. Beginners’ instructors feel compelled to stroll among the class to assure each person is in enough pain. In advanced classes, she stays up front where she belongs.

 2) Create Diversions.

It is considered bad form to scream just because your thigh has developed a charley horse that could win the Triple Crown. Plan your workout by wrapping an elastic bandage around your knee. This will permit you to pause occasionally to massage that throbbing muscle. Everyone will admire your dedication to fitness, and your aggressive attitude to your own recovery.

 3) Hold the Velcro.

Sadistic shoe manufacturers, always alert to the possibilities for profit in the fitness industry, now use velcro strips in place of shoe laces. To cheat at aerobics, you need laces – the longer the better. With loose tying, train them to come undone while running with high knees. This should happen when you realize that another jumping jack will kill you. As you mercilessly whip your classmates with your extra long laces, take a break to retie them.

4) Jockey for Position.

Working the butt means getting into an uncompromising  position on the elbows, hands, and knees while waving a leg about in unusual directions. Get behind someone large enough to block your view. This way, you can take a periodic break by standing up and checking her position. When I’m taking a class, I’m usually the largest person and all my classmates jockey for position behind me.

 5) Cheating at Push-Ups.

The push-up is the time-honoured test of strength.”GIMME FIFTY,” the instructor snaps. The class, pumped on endorphins, cheers.  Watch what is happening. Your classmates all have their knees bent and resting on the floor. The resistance is counterbalanced by your feet. This eliminates much of your mass from the push-up – depending on the size of your feet. Do ten real push-ups with your legs straight.

 My 5-Step System for Cheating at Aerobics works because you have to be there. Soon you will get caught up in the enthusiasm of the class. You may even grow to like the music. Instructors all know cheating when they see it, and they know why you’re doing it. The need to cheat lessens as you become stronger.

Mike Broderick is a BCRPA fitness instructor and an employment specialist at the Neil Squire Society where he finds jobs for the physically disabled. He is a fitness humourist for Alive Magazine and owns and operates The Spin Doctor Resume Service where he does resumes for anyone wishing to become upwardly mobile. He may be reached at or at 604-464-4195. He lives in Port Coquitlam BC about 29 kilobytes from Vancouver



  1. Sharon Says:

    Hilarious, Mike! Have you been watching my attempts at fitness? The babies love my big exercise ball. They can roll it, bounce on it, toss it and fall off it – all without harm. It’s like a baby rollercoaster.

  2. Sherry Says:

    Brilliant suggestions. Now, what about sit ups?

  3. WRITE OFF YOUR WORKOUTS | SpinDoctorResumes Says:

    […] In my first year, I wrote, “How to cheat at aerobics.” Within a week I sold it for $75 to a magazine called BC Woman-To-Woman. I republished it here: […]

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