Monday, March 14, 2011

Just the Two of Us (and a room full of women)

My name is Eric Epperson and I attend a women’s workout class. Okay, well, it’s not officially a women’s only class. It’s not called “Girl Power” or “Fem-Chisel” Men are perfectly welcome thank you very much. Do I slink in wearing sunglasses, a fedora and trench coat? No, no, of course not. It’s just a – nervous laughter – regularly scheduled gathering of people in which I happen to be the only male. No big deal. Right? Right? Right?

Well for your information, it’s a core class, which is a way of calling it an abs class so people won’t assume you are a total Jersey Shore want-to-be jackass… GTL or whatever. I go because it makes me a stronger runner. Why the uneven gender balance? The class is held each Tuesday and Thursday immediately before an extremely popular Zumba class. I have no idea what Zumba is exactly. I've never been. It has something to do with dancing while wearing MC Hammer pants. But all the girls in my abs… eh, I mean, core class attend Zumba. For these hardcore ladies, the abs workout with that one creepy guy is just a warm up.

As you can imagine, being the only male in a room full of women has its natural consequences. For starters, if anything goes wrong with the sound system, it is usually my job to fix it. I'm not at all qualified and this usually just involves turning knobs until the ipod kicks on. Occasionally, the instructor will make a joke about shaving legs or childbirth or some other activity that guys don’t know much about. When this happens, it is customary for everyone to lock eyes with me in the big mirror. I just smile and shrug my shoulders. I’m not being sexist. This isn't material for a bad standup comedian. This stuff actually happens.

My domain as the only male in the pack was cut in half last month when, to my shock, another man walked into the class. But as unexpected as our new classmate was, his age was the most peculiar characteristic. Judging by the look of him, and the fact that he kept referring to the 13 Colonies, he was getting up there in age. It appeared that I finally found someone more out of place than me. Back hunched over, dress socks halfway up his shins, frizzy white hair and an officially licensed Zumba t-shirt to tie it all together.

And he keeps coming back. He wanders in each session, grabs a mat and usually finds a spot in my area. After all, us guys gotta stick together. How's he do? He might sit out an occasional rep but for the most part, he keeps up pretty well. Surprising because his posture is so bad I don’t even know if he has abdominal muscles anymore. I do know his arthritis bothers him. I know this because he asks me to tie his shoes before every class. I always oblige. After all, us guys gotta stick together.

So yeah, I love that I’m no longer the only man in the class. I’m still the one who has to fix the sound system (insert old guy and technology joke here). Yet my new workout partner proves to me each week that we are never finished growing, improving or trying new things. We never reach our full potential. We can never coast. We can always do one more rep.

Even if we have to ask the creepy guy in the trench coat to tie our shoes.

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