Here's what may the best thing that happened during this weekend of sticky, unrelenting heat, besides the discovery of "Alvin & the Chipmunks" versions of my favorite songs on YouTube (be sure to check out "Falsetto"): today I taught a gym class.
I went to the gym as usual this morning, ready and waiting for the strength training class. The teacher, who I really like, was late getting into town and had missed his earlier class, but the gym people said he would arrive in time for this one. As the minutes rolled by he didn't show up. Some people started to trickle out, but one chick wondered aloud, "does anybody know the routine? Maybe someone else could teach it."
You never know what you'll do when duty calls. Do you stand up to meet it? Do you shrink away and hope it doesn't try to make eye contact? "I sort of know it," I mumbled. The girl was direct: "Why don't you do it," she said, pointing at me through the mirror. After a few sheepish rounds of "No, I couldn't....No, it's really not possible...No, I....OK, I'LL DO IT," suddenly the class was lurching forward with me at the helm.
We didn't have any music, which made it difficult to keep everything on a consistent time. The first few minutes were awkward, as I tried to remember what the teacher says and keep a good rhythm going. We did fewer sets than usual, because time was short, but we hit all the exercises in 45 minutes. Mostly I just announced the exercises, kept the count going, and tried to maintain a steady rhythm. It was hard to work out and count out loud at the same time. As I got more comfortable I tried to offer some asides and extra motivating tips, like: "Dig in!" or "I find these push-ups to be the low point of the workout!" or "Bring that squat all the way down!" The crazy thing was, these actually seemed to have an effect, as people would bring their squats to a markedly lower point. I felt like a god.
As we progressed I started feeling really good. The exercises were flowing along nicely, we were doing a good number of sets of each one, and our timing looked to be about right. I started thinking about alternative career paths -- why couldn't I be a gym instructor, too -- I could make some hot mixes, bring in some good hip hop and r&b, keep the people moving, make them laugh a little bit...I felt like Charlie Bucket after Willie Wonka turned over the keys to the chocolate factory.
As the class ended we were all stretched out on the floor, and I wrapped up with our teacher's signature ending: "Aaaaaand, shake it out! Good job guys!" There was some appreciative laughter and applause. On the way out everybody thanked me and told me I did a good job. It was a really remarkable, really good feeling, and not one that I ever expected to have. Is there anything I can't do?