AETOBICS ETIQUETTE


It is very difficult for a loudmouth neurotic introvert like me to maintain a sense of anonymity in an aerobics class when I’m the only one making any noise. I explained this dilemma to an instructor while she did her pre-class warm-up. She showed off her flexibility by pressing her chest to the floor with her legs spread eagled. I call this the “make a wish” position.

 “I’ve been meaning to talk to you about your noises,” she said. She pressed her elbow to her knee and stretched her torso by reaching for her toes with the other arm. “I really like it when you come to my class. Your screaming really raises our energy levels, but about your Tarzan yodels. Couldn’t you at least wait until the class has started?”

 She went on to explain that she found a startling wolfishness to my enthusiastic vocal responses to the class. She thought I was a chauvinistic dork at first, and my howling resulted from hanging out in strip clubs. Then she realized that I was actually getting everyone else caught up in my ardour. “Only scream during the cardio part,” she demanded.

This was my first experience with etiquette in aerobics. I felt like a boorish pig. I thought there must be other acts of social disgrace perpetrated by unknowing fitness buffs.

After conducting several weeks of careful research, I found some. To promote harmony in fitness classes, I present three errors of etiquette commonly committed during aerobics classes.   

1) Hogging the Mirrors.

I always thought that gyms installed mirrors to make them appear more spacious. I was once toying with this idea while doing jumping jacks. I felt a tap on my shoulder. A young woman in a clashing Spandex suit glared at me. “You’re blocking my reflection,” she snapped.

At first I thought she referred to a physics test I flunked in high school. Then I noticed the class arranged itself in a manner that gave each class member a full body view.

After class, I apologized. The woman explained that she always came to class fifteen minutes early to get a spot in front of the mirror. She used it to check that she had the correct positions.

In subsequent classes, however, I noticed that participants kept their eyes glued to the mirror in a trance of narcissusistic fascination. They posed and flexed and admired the muscle definition that formed as a result of the exercises.

They paid little attention to the instructor who wrestled them for eye contact. I found I could jolt them from their state of catatonic self involvement with one of my blood curdling screams.

2) Not Minding Your Own Business.

From time to time, the instructor also gets caught up in her mirror reflection. This gives the less experienced class members an opportunity to do the exercises in a more difficult and perilous manner.

For example, there is a position known euphemistically as the ‘fire hydrant.’ It resembles a pose held by dogs next to objects that need watering.

Done correctly, the exerciser firms up those ham muscles by assuming this uncompromising body configuration. All the weight is distributed between the left knee, the left elbow, and the extended right arm. The right leg is cocked and brandished about in a variety of ham wrenching directions.

As you match your position with the instructor’s, you notice a classmate with both arms extended. Each of his leg lifts generates a sharp twist to his vertebral column. You think he might survive the ordeal – after a month of chiropractic treatments.

The instructor, preoccupied with the reflection  of her toned and rippling hamstrings and quadriceps, misses this. She calmly chants, “Up – down – up – down.”

You decide to act. Like an inch worm, you crawl over to the poor soul knocking over two other classmates with your extended leg. Without missing a leg lift, you try to tell the guy to get down on one elbow, but the music is too loud. You hook your toes in the crook of the fellow’s elbow and pull. He falls onto his side and yells, “Stop being a know-it-all.”

The instructor senses something is amiss and chants, “Up – down – up – down – stop – being – a know – it all.”

3) No Talking.

Most people in aerobics classes are adults. Adults know better than to interrupt a class by chatting with other classmates. I’m an adult. I wish I could say that about me.

I am a relentless blabbermouth. I have a habit of blurting out whatever comes to mind. Often, these are things that should be left unblurted – especially in an aerobics class.

These include telling a young person with an apparent eating disorder that working out makes me hungry, or commenting on a particular instructor’s disposition. I tell this to someone who turns out to be the instructor’s best friend.

With practise, it is easy to make it through a cardio with one’s foot mouth. One needs only to adjust one’s balance to compensate for the handicap.

The problem is that most of my blurting occurs at the beginning of the class. This is before the class devotes itself to the development of the abdominal muscles.

This means I will have to face the wrath of an angry aerobics instructor who is infuriated by the distraction.

Aerobics instructors are not like school teachers. They go for revenge. Rather than expel you from the class, they will wait for the abdominal segment of the workout to vent their vengeance.

There is nothing more punishing than having a vengeful aerobics instructor hovering over you criticising your crunches.

 The rules of aerobics etiquette are, until now, unwritten. As you can guess, normal rules of etiquette apply. If you are rude to someone, you take your chances just like everywhere else. When taking aerobics classes, mind your manners.

 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 does some work as a field Archaeologist and is a fitness instructor and frequent contributor of fitness humour articles to alive magazine in Port Coquitlam. You can reach him at home at michael_broderick@telus.net or at michaelb@neilsquire.ca. or at 604-464-4195.  If you’re looking for a career change, he is the Spin Doctor and can give you a resume makeover at competitive rates When he is not doing all this he lives in Port Coquitlam with his partner Cecelia.

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12 Responses to “AETOBICS ETIQUETTE”

  1. Sharon Says:

    So funny – and to the point. Well said, Mike. So when you crawled across the floor to help the other student, did you leave a slime trail?

  2. Rose A. Valenta Says:

    That’s a great beginning to a romance novel about a recruiter and an aerobics instructor. Hmmm, Tarzan?
    Rose

  3. Jeanne Kraus Says:

    Delightful and so funny! I myself am an aerobics looker-on. I take the position of voyeur and look through the glass windows. It is like watching a show. People have come out later and invited me to participate but they are pretty sweaty and disgusting and you can’t tell me that THAT was fun. Watching is fun!

  4. Jody Worsham Says:

    That’s the advantage of working out with the Wii or a DVD. No rules!

  5. Angela Weight Says:

    LOL!!!!! That was great. Love the “make-a-wish” position.

  6. FORM Pilates Says:

    I loved this article Mike! Thank you for bringing the seriousness of fitness to a hilarious light! I like making noise in my classes. Hootin’ and hollerin’ is all the fun! Come to one of my Pilates mat classes anytime and I promise I won’t chide you for any of your “politically incorrect” fitness behavior.
    My best to you,
    Lindsay

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