Non-Traditional Exercises for Non-Traditional Exercisers
Though they might seem odd, practicing aerial silks and taekwondo are what has gotten me back in the gym.
By Brooke Mondor, Brookhaven College
Though I was an active kid, it’s been a while since I’ve participated in sports, or done anything physical, really.
Recently though, I decided to get myself together and get back in shape. Unfortunately, I am neither as strong nor as confident as I used to be.
I’ve tried working out at a gym the old fashioned way, with weights and machines, but that sucked.
Since then, I’ve found two other types of workouts that I really enjoy. They’re not especially intimidating and don’t require extreme muscles to start: aerial silks and taekwondo.
Since I hate traditional gyms with a fiery passion, about a year ago I decided to Google different types of workouts in the Dallas area. I’ve always wanted to get into dance, so I searched for dance studios around me. That’s when I reached a gym’s website that focused primarily on aerial dance.
I was immediately interested in aerial silks when I saw all of the cool-looking pictures of people doing graceful poses high in the air. It looked super hard and intimidating, but as I looked into it I realized that those people had obviously been practicing for years. I researched awhile longer, and convinced my older sister to go to an introductory class with me. We went and really enjoyed it—even though our arms just about fell off the next day.
We planned to go back, but never found a time to go that worked with both of our schedules. I had kind of forgotten about it until I was registering for classes this semester, when I saw a course that taught aerial silks.
I got really excited and clicked to see the availability, but sadly all of the spots were taken up. I guess that’s what I get for waiting until the absolute last day to register for classes. I e-mailed the dance instructor to let me know if/when any spots became available, but I really wasn’t expecting anything back.
Once again I totally forgot about it. But then, a few days later, the professor e-mailed back to let me know that someone dropped the class. I quickly registered and paid—I was so pumped.
Now as I mentioned before, I haven’t worked out or really done much of anything physical for a while. Though I was a really active kid, as I grew up I kind of just got busy with other things and slowly stopped playing sports.
As you can imagine, I was pretty intimidated by the thought of starting not only the first dance class of my life, but a dance class that was done in the air on freaking fabric rope things. I was really nervous.
Luckily, my teacher is awesome and very patient (teachers can make or break any class). On the first day of class, my noodle-armed self was very surprised that I actually had the strength to pull and hold myself up. I felt like the Hulk and it really boosted my confidence.
Aerial silks are a great option for people of every fitness level. The silks can hold up hundreds of pounds so just about everyone can try it. Plus, you start out close to the floor and there’s always a mat under you in case you fall.
Though using the silks looks pretty impossible, it’s really just sequences of movements you have to remember, and you’ll be surprised how quickly you build up muscle in your arms and stomach.
Also spelled tae kwon do, this is the most recent workout I have started. I’m on my second week and it’s a blast. Like dance, I’ve always wanted to try a martial art, and since I’m too claustrophobic for jiu-jitsu, taekwondo was my next best choice.
I luckily stumbled upon an awesome school with an equally awesome Master, and I highly suggest researching the school and who runs it to make sure you’re not wasting your money.
I convinced my sister to try taekwondo with me as well, and our first class was free—we just had to do it alongside the class that was already in session. Walking in was a little intimidating because there was a mixture of skill levels, which included quite a few black belts, half of whom looked younger than me. I ignored them and focused on my lesson.
The first class was pretty mild, just so we could get a taste of what it would be like. After we both decided to get memberships, we were warned that the introductory session would be the easiest workout we would ever do. I think I involuntarily shed a tear.
The next couple of classes were a lot more intense, and I became suddenly very aware that I had not worked out strenuously in a long, long while.
We were doing kicks, punches, pull-ups and tricep dips all class long. It was tiring as hell.
The next day my legs felt like they were going to melt into the floor and I was pretty sure my shoulders were torn apart. But at the same time, it also felt good. Even though I’m obviously not Bruce Lee, I was really proud of myself for the little progress I had already made.
Even my sister (whom I love dearly but is more of a couch potato than I am) was seeing improvement in her kicks after just a couple of classes. That’s a huge confidence boost and just made me want to try even harder in my next class.
Taekwondo is something anyone can do. There are people of all ages, skill levels and body types in the class I’m in, but it doesn’t feel judgmental or divided. Everyone does their own thing, but also helps each other when needed. Plus, it sure works up a sweat.