Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Working Within The Box

The little light of my life, my favorite gym instructor, abandoned me. He left the evening Fitness First Body Pump class and, like an old testament test of faith - switched his class to 6am to see if I would follow him! Like Abraham ready to slaughter his son (now that's what you call fucked up devotion!) my shoulders, bicep and ass sacrificed themselves to Fitness First at the appointed hour.

Unlike that story, this one didn't end with some angel saying, Just Kidding! I got myself to the altar
expecting to find another two acolytes at such an hour. Instead, I find 4 men and 100 women because women are always more attuned to, more appreciative of, vitality. "So you all got here at 6am!" he says with a wink, "That was not the hardest part!"

Fitness First ate up most all the gym competition in Australia and has become a corporate answer to fitness across 15 nations. Their fitness classes are farmed out to another corporation, Les Mills International. Les Mills sells fitness programs to 75 countries - and each of these classes, Body Pump, for example, are regimented and set to licensed tunes - usually bad 90's covers (read: affordable!) choreographed with every step the same each day. Every day each same step, until the next "session" is launched every three months.

There is no room for creativity. No "freestyle". Whatever happened to the instructors who lead with their own music, stamp their own style, and recruit a following? One in particular I recall from NYC, Tina Thompson, champion bodybuilder and dancer, who while giving a kick-ass (always varied) workout of her own would make us laugh and teach ("You won't be able to do this forever, how many more years to do you have to sweat like this!") in the way of philosophy, empowerment, awareness.

Les Mills' corporate, planned, structured, strict, "get fit with same same same" is intended to suck out an individual instructor's substance (and with it, gym patrons' notion of free thinking - and don't let me finish the logical conclusion of this train). All classes feature a ton of equipment, even the abs class (or, um, CX-WORX) involves a contorting and pulling of rubber ropes (?) when let's face it - all of these fitness classes could be handily accomplished without a single apparatus.

But my favourite instructor, even at 6am, manages to make this regiment his own and take the piss. In the middle of the exacting choreography, comes "This is agony! Cruelty! What do you say we hang it all and go to breakfast?" without missing one raise of the barbell, lunge or lift. With winks, grunts and a trademark infectious joy, he'll say, "This music track I really can't stand - I mean, can you? Britney Spears being sung by a man. Homo, he didn't!"

What's most curious is he's individually managed to make even the same exact routine, set to the same exact music, new and special and inspiring each time. He's inserted (effortlessly?) creativity into (or out of) staid corporate confines. Let that be a lesson to me.


Anonymous said...

C'mon Jesse, where are the photos? I know you're almost always ready for your close-up and I'm sure your instructor even more so!!

As Audrey said to Fred: "Take the picture, take the picture!"

PS: name the movie!

Ricky Ricardo

Jesse Archer said...

Funny Face?! (I totally googled)

I think video would be more apt here, no? Or you could always join me for class! What are you doing at 6am?!

Anonymous said...

Too easy then if you just Google! Name the location, the art work and colour of the dress!!!

Up at 6am to get it together to face my own trainer at City Gym at 8am!! Takes that long, so sad,