Jab… jab-cross-jab… jab-cross-jab… jab-cross-JAB!
I watch myself in the mirror of the health club classroom as I do martial arts moves to the tune of “Eye of the Tiger.” Cliché song, yes, I know… but the BodyCombat class has a variety of old and new hits that we punch, chop, kick and shuffle to.
I’ve been taking several classes at the gym for the past few months, but this is my favorite one. It’s part of a series of classes put together by Les Mills, a New Zealand outfit that only makes its workouts available in health clubs.
You can’t buy any DVDs to exercise at home, but in a group setting, surrounded by the energy of others on the same quest, you’re guaranteed a good workout. And, lest you get bored with your fitness goals, they change the music up every six weeks or so, rotating new tracks and new routines through the one-hour classes.
There’s BodyFlow, which is more yoga-inspired, and RPM, which is a spin class. But the classes I’ve been taking are BodyPump, BodyStep and, of course, BodyCombat.
BodyPump is barbell-lifting to music. It’s a good strength-training workout, the type of stuff you usually associate with the “muscle heads” and steroid addicts who spend way too much time in Gold’s Gym. But interestingly, class participants are over 90% female, at least at my club. It’s like the women are taking a stereotypically testosterone-driven exercise routine and setting it to dance and rock music to make it more familiar — and fun.
BodyStep is your typical step class, and it’s pretty challenging. Again, it’s almost all female students, but that’s expected in step aerobics. It can be challenging to keep up and get the moves right… but whoa, when I get a step sequence down and it’s in time with the rest of the class, what a great feeling!
All of a sudden, I’m on top of the world. It’s almost like being a dancer. A Chorus Line, here I come! Or maybe Fame. I’ll just break into a verse of Irene Cara’s “What a Feeling!” while I relive the exuberance for a moment:
What a feeling! Being’s believing!
I can have it all, now I’m dancing for my life.
Take your passion, and make it happen!
Pictures come alive, you can dance right through your life.
“Pictures come alive.” Ah, yes, the power of visualization. And that’s what I love about the BodyCombat class, which remains my favorite. I can visualize myself as being strong, powerful and unstoppable, which are all fantastic qualities for making it through this life as a human.
Remember Tae Bo, the cardio kick-boxing routine set to hip music, created by Billy Blanks? The one that ruled the infomercial airwaves in the 90s? Well, BodyCombat is kind of like that, but much better, with easy-to-follow powerful moves from various martial arts disciplines: Karate, Tae Kwon Do, Tai Chi, Muay Thai, Kung Fu and boxing.
Unlike a typical martial arts class, with Body Combat I’m not sparring with a partner – I’m only fighting with myself.
Wait a second… fighting with myself? Is that healthy?
Okay, well, I’m not actually fighting with myself, or fighting against myself. Just like sparring with a partner, there are rules of respect to follow.
In this case, that girl in the mirror is a trusted and perfectly matched opponent. I know she won’t hurt me, and I won’t hurt her. She can glare at me, and throw punches my way, but she only does it in reaction to what I do to her.
Then again, we all represent reflections of each other to a certain degree. If we don’t like something that someone does, quite often it’s a reflection of something that we do that we don’t like either. Or sometimes, it can be a reflection of what’s opposite to our own values.
But with the girl in the real mirror, there are no guessing games. She is what she is, and she doesn’t lie about what I look like, or what I’m doing.
That’s why I’ve made it a habit to start dressing the part for class, in sexy new workout clothes. If I dress like I look good, then I develop more confidence, and in turn I start to look better.
And that gives me even more confidence, which lets me kick that mirror’s butt! Hi-yaaah!
A BodyCombat instructor leading a kick © Roxy C’est ma vie
A BodyPump demonstratio © Face Me PLS
A BodyCombat class in action © Roxy C’est ma vie