I distinctly remember the day my best friend called to tell me about her first Tae Bo class. At the time I was in college in Portland, OR (essentially living under a mossy rock) taking step aerobics and jazzercise classes. Seriously. I’d never heard of the fad that had swept the nation. After discovering Billy Blanks, I knew I was clearly missing out on something important.
From there I moved to LA, arguably the fittest city in the nation. And that is when I truly embraced my love of fitness but more specifically fad workouts. Let’s be honest – working out is hard. Gym memberships are a constant uphill battle. And once you’re in there, what do you do? I’ve spent years logging the same miles at the same mph on the same cardio machines feeling like I was on the road to nowhere, literally and figuratively. Workout fads take the guesswork out of working out, while adding a whole new layer of awesome at the same time.
Workout fads are amazing for many reasons. First and foremost, it forces you to do something that is different from your regular routine, working new muscles and shaping different parts of your body. I’ve tried an array of yoga classes, mat & reformer pilates classes. I will gladly take ANY class that has the word barre in it because I would murder for a dancers body. I’ve screamed affirmations at the top of my lungs in several intensati classes, which combines aerobics with positive self-affirming thoughts. I’ve dripped pounds of sweat through countless Bikram classes; I’ve channeled my inner Indian princess in Bollywood dance, sashéd with old ladies in Zumba and shook my butt in yoga booty ballet. And trust me, I could go on. Remember when everyone was taking African dance classes? Yup, I was there too, whipping my hair around like a crazy white girl.
I will literally try anything once but I do have one rule about signing up for fad fitness classes: the instructor better have a body that I would like to have. If they don’t look good, it’s not going to inspire me to try my hardest doing whatever ridiculous thing they are telling me too. Sad, but true.
Work out fads are also a great way to find the courage to laugh at your self. Think about it, when you decide to take a new class, you show up and start shaking your stuff with a bunch of strangers. That right there is the definition of courage. And because you are all there together, feeling simultaneously self-conscious and proud for showing up, you form a bond, something that no one in that class can take away from you. You have agreed to pay money to look ridiculous together. And that is how fad fitness works – therapeutic really.
In a Bikram class last week I had tried a pose and pushed myself harder than normal. When we had a moment of rest, I was lying flat on my mat, panting and sweating, only to lock eyes with a girl a few mats down. She looked in almost as much pain as I, and we immediately started laughing. This is the true meaning of pleasure and pain.
And while I have sworn my allegiance to my fair number of fads, the best part is that when I become bored there will be the next best workout fad waiting just around the corner, with a new fitness guru to aspire to. And my lasting hope is that one of them will finally require me to wear sequins.
Photo credit: Format