I’m losing one of my step classes in January, and I accept this as another memento of our transition to the next century. I predict that we are entering an age where people value simplicity. As program coordinators analyze their bottom lines, they decide how to make their fitness classes more attractive to more people – especially that segment of the population that rarely attends fitness classes – men.

In this case, a boot camp class replaces mine. While I’ve never taken a boot class camp, I have an idea about their structures. Boot camp classes combine calisthenics and the direction of a demanding and dictatorial mistress determined to help men explore their submissive sides. Men love taking orders from beautiful and mysterious mistresses. (I’d love it too, but I’m going to be too busy finding another step class to teach.)

In a way it was my fault. I admit that some of my classes have become more complicated. This was a response to class demands. Class demands, however, flow against the grain of the general tendency to make aerobics less complicated and open the doors to the more choreographically challenged.

When I first went to aerobics school, fitness class structure consisted of running on the spot, jumping jacks, more running on the spot with high knees, more jumping jacks, and a cool down. There was no thought involved, unless it was trying to find ways to hide from the instructor. This was called freestyle.

Gradually, classes became more patterned. Participants had to anticipate the instructor’s moves. High and Low impact moves became incorporated into patterns. Participants adapted well to the moves. Step participants, as well, noticed choreographic intensity. Music became more important as classes expected the moves on the floor to correspond with the ever-present downbeat. In the end, male participation went from ten percent to three percent. Men became confined to the weight room – except fore me. I’m the dinosaur of the nineties struggling to find work.

Then came the great debate of freestyle vs patterned classes. Proponents of the former said that people need break from the phrenetic pace of everyday life. They need to leave their work at work and come to class and not be forced to think. This way they get a holiday.

Proponents of the latter said that people need break from the phrenetic pace of everyday life. They need to leave their work at work and come to class and think. The harder they think about their next move, the faster the time passes. This way they get a holiday.

My holiday begins Thursday after next, but I’m not yet ready for retirement. I’ve been developing my dominant side. Some of the expressions you’ll hear in my boot camp class (if I get a chance to sub one) include:

Drop and gimme fifty,

*          Get those knees up,

*           Forty more. Yes you will!

*           Come on, maggot! You’re dogging it!

*          You get on top tonight. I’ve got a sore back.

 Not bad, eh? That’s my strategy for the turn of the century . . . Adopt, adapt, and devolve.

Mike Broderick is an Employment Specialist for the Neil Squire Society in Burnaby where he finds employment for people with physical disabilities. Part of this work means affiliation with the Vancouver Board of Trade where he is a member of the Ambassador Club, the Burnaby Board of Trade where he is a member of the Labour Task Force, the Tri Cities Chamber of Commerce where he is an active member of the 10X10 initiative, and the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce. He also does some work as a field Archaeologist. He is also a fitness instructor and frequent contributor of fitness humour articles to alive magazine, and the proprietor of The Résumé Doctor in Port Coquitlam. You can reach him at home at or at When he is not doing all this he lives in Port Coquitlam with his partner Cecelia


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