You know those people who say they love working out—the ones who wake up at 5 a.m. to go to the gym just because it feels good? I hate those people. I hate them because I could never be them. I accept that my abs will forever resemble a tube of cookie dough if it means I never have to feel the pain of a sit-up. It's not because I'm lazy; it's because workout classes tend to be boring or masochistic. For me, working out should be like drinking cocktails: It's way more fun when you don't realize what's happening to you.
I took a few classes around town. Here are some that I actually enjoyed:
My friend Shawna took me to a Zumba class at Party Fitness (8589 Aero Drive in Serra Mesa). The whole Zumba craze seemed pretty dumb to me, just like Jazzercise, Tae Bo and flirty pole fitness had before. But then the lights came down, bangin' club jams blared and the whole class was instructed to pop that coochie and pop it hard. I shook my butt as if it had a scorpion on it, and the only way to get it off was by twerking it. This place really is a party. They even hand out glow sticks. My instructor, Kathie, is well into her 50s but has the body and the moves that would put any 20-something club rat to shame. She's fun and encouraging, and that makes the workout a good time. When it was over, I felt like I'd gone dancing with friends, only better because I didn't have a hangover the next day—just a sore tushy and new dance moves to try out. If you like Pitbull songs and shaking what your mama gave you, you'll enjoy this class.
Another place to tone your physique is the pilates and cycling studio BodyRok (3959 30th St. in North Park). BodyRok specializes in teaching the Lagree Fitness style of pilates, which focuses on slow, controlled movements using special resistance machines. Basically, you just work your muscles to the point where they have no choice but to be rock hard. While this sounds terribly exhausting, the instructors make it fun. They change up every workout so it doesn't become a boring routine. You can do pilates, cycling or a combination of both. The music's usually great, too. If there's one thing I can't stand, it's trying to work out to repetitive
European trance music. Here, you get an eclectic mix of moodboosters that ranges from Robyn to The Rolling Stones. Also, classes are small, so you get a lot of attention, and workouts are only 40 minutes long. Who wants to pummel their bodies for longer than that? Not me. I'm in, out and at home in an hour. For busy ladies or gents, that's kind of a godsend.
While I prefer lively, high-energy workouts, something quiet and relaxing is nice, too, though I usually hate yoga classes because they're just too granola. (But, I have to admit I feel great afterward.) I got a whole lot of that at Pilgrimage of the Heart Yoga (3287 Adams Ave. in Normal Heights). I tried a class with my friend Shannon, who's a total yogi. She took me to Pilgrimage's Gentle Yoga class to ease me into the experience. It's meant for beginners and really focuses on relaxing the body and mind, something I struggle with. The poses were pretty easy, so I didn't feel like Bambi on ice, but the mellowness eventually got to me. The last 10 minutes of the class were spent lying on the ground as the instructor spritzed me with lavender water. It was a bit much until I realized it felt really good. For once, my back wasn't in pain and I felt calm. I went back to try the more intense yoga classes. They were tougher, but I was still eased into it. The instructors aren't yoga Nazis, and the classes cater to people like me with short attention spans and a low tolerance for new-agey stuff. It's part meditative and part ass-kicking. That's a combo I can work out to.