My PE class for the quarter is “zumba”, taught by a very cheerful, coordinated, muscular brunette named Ashley. It is held in the T-Club Lounge, a room with mirrors for walls, from 9-10am on Mondays and Wednesdays. At 10am, I have Astrophysics lecture, so I scurry from the Z-Center to the third floor of Building 36. To allow for these kinds of circumstances, MIT PE classes begin at 10 minutes past the hour, and end at 10 minutes before the hour.
On Wednesday, I had every intention of going to zumba, but two thirds of the way there I realized that I had forgotten to print my Astrophysics pset (I typed up answers in LaTeX.) So, I doubled back, acknowledging that I wouldn’t be able to attend that morning; Ashley has a rule that if we don’t show up for the warm-up, we can’t get credit for the session. The MIT PE department lets you make up an absence by attending a session of a class that you have taken previously; I decided to attend yoga. I clicked my way to the PE site, saw that yoga was offered in the T-Club lounge at noon, printed a make-up form, and went.
I arrived a few minutes before noon; I figured that even though classes start at ten past, it would be worth showing up early to get the form signed.
The first thing I noticed: the class was already full. 25 +/- 3 students sat or lay on yoga mats, stretching and warming up.
The second thing I noticed: roughly a third of the crowd were men, which is a lot more than any other yoga class I’ve been to.
The third thing I noticed: everyone in the room seemed old. No one looked like an undergraduate.
I dismissed all three of these oddities, and asked the instructor to sign my form. She said that she would do it after class, and told me to go to the back closet and retrieve two sets of weights, a mat, and a gigantic white foam cylinder.
Uhhh. What? Weights? A fourth oddity, that I dismissed. I figured that one could do yoga holding a pair of weights, if the routine was too easy. I probably just wouldn’t use them. In the back closet, as I deliberated over which to select, a girl (who turned out to be a graduate student in Materials Science) asked whether this was my first time. I said yes. She suggested that I take the lightest set.
Struggling to carry everything, I picked a spot at the back corner of the room. Right at noon, the instructor stood up, and began throwing out expressions; everyone knew what these meant, and moved through a warm-up routine. I was astonished that she had managed to teach the group all of those routines in the first day of PE classes, and managed to stumble along, wondering why she hadn’t gotten the memo that PE classes start at ten past the hour, not ON the hour.
Five minutes later, she yelled “PUSHUPS!” and the entire room dropped to the floor and began doing pushups. Mind whirling in horror, I dropped to the ground like I’d been shot. There was no time to wonder why we were doing this in a yoga class; on my knees (the big toe on my left foot is currently broken) I slapped my palms on either side of my mat and began lowering and raising my torso. After I had gotten to the point that I couldn’t physically do any more, the instructor told us to stand up, pick up our weights, and do bicep curls. Then what I can only describe as a tricep curl. Too little time, and too much pain, to think about what was happening. A few minutes later, I found myself holding my weights at a 90 degree angle to my body, arms trembling. A few minutes after that, I found myself lying on my side, hips pressed down and legs and upper torso lifted into the air. I was acutely aware of every abdonimal muscle in my body.
While lying on my back, knees lifted, doing a long set of crunches, the instructor began talking into her mic. “Heeeyyy everyone!” she began. “I know 95% of the people in this room-” since there were fewer than 30 people in the room, I understood this to mean that I was the only newcomer “- which is super-exciting! For those of you who are new, my name is Maura*……..and this is BODY SCULPT!”
*I don’t actually remember her name. Memory clouded with pain.
Body sculpt? As in, trying to make your body look like this or this? I DON’T THINK POSEIDON DID YOGA TO MAKE HIS BODY LOOK LIKE THAT. Was this not the T-Club Lounge? Was it not noon? WHAT WAS HAPPENING?
At that point, it was 12:20, and my muscles were already giving out. I considered leaving, but didn’t want to seem like a wimp. In any case, I was too busy doing lunges to quit.
At 12:30, I found myself lying on my stomach, lifting my upper torso up repeatedly. I had the misfortune of facing a man whose biceps ballooned from the size of grapefruits to the size of watermelons every time I lifted up. It was…humbling, and terrifying.
At 12:45, the other students in the class started giving up on using their weights. One by one, weights clunked to the ground, as people settled with just lifting their arms; that was tiring enough. I still held onto my little weights, even though at that point they felt like roughly the weight of my neighbor’s biceps. There was something satisfying about that.
At 1, class ended. Somehow, I was alive. Feeling precisely the opposite of sculpted – “jelly-like” would be more accurate – I blobbed over to the closet and put my weights away. Maura (or whatever her name was) signed my form. I found out later that afternoon that yoga was on Tuesdays and Thursdays at noon, not Mondays and Wednesdays; I attended a one-hour body sculpt class for the public.
The next morning, I woke up, and tried to sit up to turn on my lamp. NOPE. My abs declined my request. I ended up having to roll myself onto the ground before I could stand. When I laugh, I am reminded of all the trunk lifts and leg lifts and crunches. When I sit down, I am reminded of all the lunges and squats. I can’t lift my arm higher than parallel to the ground. To point at stars last night, I used momentum to swing my arm high enough, which amused my friend. My pecs protest violently when I try to press my hands together. Open my arms wide enough to give someone a hug? Pecs, lats, and underarms say: forget about it.
It does feel good to be so sore. I obviously got a good workout. I will become a BEAST if I do this twice a week. Call me crazy, but I’m tempted to change my MW routine to “zumba in the morning, body sculpt in the afternoon”…