“Walking tall is worth all the pain.” I had no idea how true this was until last weekend. After weeks of planning, I finally managed to get myself into an aerobics class.
I cannot tell you how many times I have passed by the Laico Hotel Gym and envisioned the day I would join the throngs of men and women who walk by there with huge smiles after a workout.
I always wondered what would make someone pay for dance lessons, but what was happening past the closed door, was the reason.
A peep into the aerobics studios revealed men and women gathered around steps with an instructor training them on moves I was convinced did nothing for exercise.
So last weekend I decided it was time to sign up. I was determined to have fun and laugh it all out afterwards. I put on my sports wear and headed for the gym. I held this huge smile in anticipation for the muscle cracking exercises. After several routines I began to feel like a regular.
The trainer seemed too eager to make me part of the team when he introduced introduce me to them.
At the start of the class the trainer went over a few movements which seemed fairly easy for me to master. Disco music went up and the moves got on faster.
The steps that seemed so easy to do were not at all. Funny how easy it looks when others do it, because when it was my turn, the scene was worth a recording. I just did not get it, it was like trying to dance on two left feet.
“Rhythmic coordination is the key to engaging in these routines,” Roger Rukundo, the trainer kept telling me, “and it comes with practice.”
Soon the pain checked in, the routines started becoming harder and harder. However, I was determined to finish the class. I was not going to be the person who tried and failed in aerobics. As luck would have it the hour stretched on for what seemed like an eternity.
Hours later I peeled of the dance floor dripping with sweat and ready to pass out.
Walking out of the gym was not easy but no sooner had I stepped out than the hypocrite in me held a smile of a lifetime. ‘Ten calories down, a hundred to go!’ screamed my imaginary score sheet.
After the session as I walked home, breathing in seemed easier, and less strained. Somehow the pain I had felt earlier was magically replaced by a feeling of relaxation, one that only a great workout would deliver. There I was a survivor of aerobics and a newly to be convert to the sport.
Rukundo, the gym trainer, was quick to point out that it was true that the pain would stay and even more, for the following few weeks. This he said was due to the absolute lack of the culture of exercise among individuals.
“Aerobics is not particularly harder than other sports, doing sports after a long time automatically strains the muscles and the resulting pain only goes away after a few days,” said Rukundo.
Rukundo points out that aerobics are made easier by using music for motivation. The music makes one forget about the time and exhaustion so that all that is left is the sport.
“The pain that develops in almost all parts of the body is an indication that one is working out the whole body frame, generating energy faster and helping the heart pumping mechanism,” remarks Rukundo.
In the last two years that he has been a gym coach at Laico Hotel, Rukundo said that most people who attend the aerobics classes come with a shared desire of weight loss.
“The first thing people ask when they come is how they can use this exercise to lose weight, however, aerobics has much more benefits than just burning fat. Aerobics helps one to reduce stress and generate more energy,” he said.
Aerobic activities are exercises that help you to use oxygen more efficiently. It gets your heart pumping faster, makes you sweat and quickens your breath. When you raise your heart rate your body begins to burn stored carbohydrates and fatty acids for energy.
Rukundo adds that his aerobics class is dominated by women while men are generally interested in body building exercises.
“Today, many government offices have schemes that facilitate their employees exercise programs. This has made more Rwandans attend gym sessions,” he added.
According to Rukundo everyone needs to engage in some form of aerobic activity.
“The heart is a muscle, and needs direct exercise just as any other muscle does. As a rule you should try to engage in some sort of aerobic activity for a minimum of 30-45 minutes, 3-4 times a week.”
After my stunt at the gym that day I have developed a deep appreciation for all the men and women who attend aerobic classes daily. Though it looks easy and effortless, discipline and dedication is needed.
Thereafter, the results are displayed in our daily work results and a clean bill of health.
The truth is, if you love yourself enough to want to live longer, then exercising is not a choice but a necessity. The key is to try to do something you enjoy.
Aerobics might not generate the same enthusiasm to keep you going back but a treadmill might just do the trick.
Like me you might just have to keep trying all exercise options before you land on one that fits into your daily routine.