Cross training class: bane or boon?

Tonight I start my yoga class at Broadway Armory Park. I was enrolled in this class for 3 quarters of last year, and loved it. The City of Chicago pays for a good chunk of this program, so the fee to people like me isn’t too bad–$42 for about 10 weeks. It’s hosted in a large room with skylights and hardwood floors; all of last year I walked out of there once a week feeling like I was floating in a bubble of peace. Fitness and peace. My body felt stretchy, lithe, and wonderful. Never mind that I gained 13 pounds last year. It wasn’t yoga’s fault.

I have to say, I love feeling fit and healthy. I love exercises that tone my muscles, which is why Pilates and yoga are right up my alley. The stretching, the crunches, holding poses until your muscles are burning–I love that challenge. I’m even all for a little pumpin’ iron. Not that I’ve ever really done that. More like I lifted some weights for about 5 weeks one time and that was that. But what I don’t enjoy? Aerobic exercise. It’s my bane.

There are two main reasons for my loathing: I hate being hot and sweaty, and I hate being out of breath. That’s why the 2 attempts I have made in my life at becoming a jogger have crashed and burned faster than I could gasp “I . . . want . . . to . . . die!”

The first time I tried to conquer this loathing was with my friend Megan when I lived in Delaware. We jogged . . . twice. I think. Or maybe once together and once alone. And then we reverted to Pilates. What can I say? Pilates is like the exercise version of comfort food for me. And don’t think about that last sentence too hard or your brain may start smoking.

I tried to overcome my hatred of jogging again at the beginning of this summer. “Sweetie,” I said to my husband, “let’s go jogging today!” I sensed that the solution was to just jump right in, act positive, wear a cute outfit, and drag someone else along with me who could participate in my misery. So off we went. Keep in mind my husband has never really jogged (he’s more into the push-ups, sit-ups and such), so I was thinking we could have a nice little amble and be pathetic together. We hit the trail that goes along the lake. I ran for about 5 minutes. By then, I couldn’t even see my husband anymore–that’s how far ahead of me he was. I could sense death was near by the gasps racking my lungs. “He’s just left me here (gasp). . . to (gasp). . . to die!” I moaned, hoping for the listening mercies of any passerby. Unfortunately they were all in their little ipod worlds of jogging bliss, and didn’t seem to notice that I was about to go into cardiac arrest. I slowed it down to a walk and plodded forward for about 5 more minutes. I tried running again, kept it up for maybe 2 minutes, and then realized that my willpower had been reduced to the size of a pea, then squashed, then trampled on. Since I couldn’t bring myself to run, I kept walking.

At some point, off in the distance, I saw that my husband had turned around and was running back my way. The small dot became larger as he drew near, and before I knew it he had caught up with me. Hooray! That could only mean it was time to go home. I turned around, but by the time I was facing the other direction, he was out of sight again, dangit. And then I realized that “going home” meant covering the same distance I had just come! Who knew that picking up your own legs could be so difficult? I started to wonder if God had accidentally made my kneecaps out of lead instead of bone. Weren’t they feeling suspiciously heavy?

After agonies untold, I could finally see the end of the trail. And there was my smiling husband, jogging back towards me yet again in order to get me through the final little bit. And I ask myself–is this fair?? He’s never jogged, and yet he has no problem running for 35 minutes straight? At a fast pace?? Smiling all along his merry little way??? I thought the plan was to be pathetic together! Not for him to be competent and athletic and me to be pathetic all by myself!

And that was the last time I jogged.

Last weekend I said to him “Remember that one time we jogged?” to which he promptly responded “Oh yeah–hey, that was a lot of fun!” And that’s all I have to say about that.

Do I want the hot jogger buns? Do I want the attractive rippling calves? Yes. But do I want to feel like I’m about to drown in a pool of sweat due to lung failure? Not so much.

Enough backstory–let’s get to the meat of what’s happening in the here and now. My yoga teacher decided to teach a new class this fall that she calls “cross training,” and positioned it right before the yoga class to encourage us regulars to come to both. Now, I love my teacher. I also love the idea of having a hot, muscly body. So I signed up for both classes, trying not to think too much about the potential suffering to come–after all, when I made this decision I still had the whole summer in front of me to be free as a bird. However, the day has come, and that day is today. September 20th.

I’m scared. It’s one hour of aerobic exercise, folks. A whole hour!

There’s no question of quitting if I don’t like it . . . because I already paid. And based on my deeply entrenched inner workings, I put my mouth where my money is. If I’ve paid, I’m darn well going to get my money’s worth. So whether the experience is hellish or heavenly, my PayPal transaction guarantees I will be there, in my stretch pants and sports bra and ugly T-shirt, once a week. Now you know where you can find me from 5:30 to 7:30 on Monday nights, though whether grinning or grimacing I can’t say.

Will my Mondays through the first week of December be a haven of Muscle Misery, or Fitness Fun? Will my classmates be cold-heartedly competent and athletic and leave me in the dust of my demise? Soon, I will have answers. I’ll keep you all posted and try to keep any whining to a minimum.

What about you guys–what do you do to stay fit? And is it possible to make the transition from loathing running to adoring running? And how long do I have to run before I get the beautiful legs? (please tell me ‘once or twice’–please!)

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13 Responses to Cross training class: bane or boon?

  1. Oh, you are brave! I’m not big on jogging or aerobics, either. I do weight train, and I love to walk, but anything that makes me sweaty and panting? Ugh! Good luck! Can’t wait to hear how it works out!

  2. Laura Livingston says:

    Ha! Love this post. The last time I tried to jog was shortly after Kate was born. I told John the next time I thought that was a good idea he should just beat me all over with a baseball bat. The end result would be the same. My all-time favorite aerobic exercise is swimming. It’s quiet and rhythmic and you’re never hot and sweaty! Walking is good, especially if the weather is lovely, and riding a recumbant bike is non-tortuous with a good book. I’ve always wanted to try yoga and/or pilates, have you ever used any online classes or dvds?

    • Jenna says:

      That’s so funny . . . I feel the same way about the baseball bat. I got into yoga/pilates via an exercise DVD that someone recommended and that my Dad got me for Christmas maybe 4 years ago. I’ve used it on and off ever since. I love it! You should definitely give it a try–minimal sweating, but there is that satisfying muscle ache the next day. =)

  3. Jen says:

    You just gotta buckle down and fight through the dislike! I used to hate running with a passion, now I miss it if I don’t get to go running at least twice a week. Granted I’m no marathon runner and my knees like to complain, but it’s very rewarding. I should warn you that it’s taken, oh, 5 or 6 years to get to this point. Just work up to it slowly, build up that lung capacity, and learn to love sweat. :)

  4. Vesselina says:

    mmm… but sweating is so good! sweating is great!! I do agree that this is the first major roadblock you have to overcome. There is nothing better than finishing up a great run, feeling that burn in your legs and feeling like you’re on cloud 9 from all the oxygen flooding your brain. It does take time to work it up- the best advice I have for you is to do what you did that second time you ran with Adam. Run until exhaustion- then walk- then run again. You will note that every time you start running after giving your legs a break, you will feel ligther and lighter. Also, key is consistency- I hate to say it, but I think you will need more than two hours once a week to work up endurance. It’s better to do lesser intervals, but at a higher frequency. So… try 30min every other day. I also have tried to incorporate biking into my newly-resumed routine. It works different muscles and gives your knees a break. Yoga/pilates is like icing on the cake for me- mmmm, stretching, abs, love it! I feel like a new person when I walk out of yoga. I’m rambling now, but the point is- the more variety you can add, the better!!! Good luck sweetie, you can do it tonight!

  5. yea its so much harder to even contemplate quitting when uve pre-paid which sucks but then again can also be an experience that maybe turns out at least a bit better than expected! even tho u didnt have the best experiences, this post was fabulous to read! especially cuz i could picture you pushing/treading through like a trooper hehe <3

  6. Holly says:

    Well, I don’t have much advice to offer, since I am not much of an exerciser myself. But if I were in Chicago I would gladly be pathetic with you. ;) I hope it goes well tonight. What the heck even is cross training?

    • Jenna says:

      I don’t know why it’s called “cross training”. My teacher also describes it as “conditioning” . . . there was an aerobic part, a weights part, then a core part. And it wasn’t as bad as I feared! I actually enjoyed it! =)

  7. Sarah says:

    hilarious! i am a runner & i love it!! but i realize i’m a bit odd- i run marathons and such. :) but way to go on keeping fit! hope class went well!

  8. Megan says:

    Haha…the attempted jogging escapade. Good times. Pilates is definitely a more satisfying workout. I started doing Pilates again several months ago and felt great. But now I’m pregnant, so I stopped. It’s hard to know what exercises are still safe to do with a growing bump and lack of balance. Walking is always good though.

    • Jenna says:

      Oh, I wish I were there to see your baby belly!! How precious. =) I’m not sure what exercises are safe, but I remember my sister Heidi (who is certified to teach Pilates) saying that she was tailoring a class for a pregnant woman, so I’m sure there are some things one could do . . . I just wish I knew what they were!

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