I took a step into unfamiliar territory the other night and went to a group circuit training class. It’s part of an 8-week series at a local adult school, and I knew that for this to be effective (read: for me to actually attend class for 8 weeks straight), I’d have to commit for realz and throw down the cash. I filled out a registration form, signed a check, and everything!

Yes, I belong to a gym and I also have lots of free weights and fitness gadgets at home, but for a while now I have felt the need for some structure when it comes to strength training. I love doing kettlebell exercises at the gym, but my body really can’t tolerate more than 1 day a week of that. I have a buttload of strength routines from magazines and websites printed out, but sometimes the act of just reading the instructions and comprehending where each body part is supposed to be is tiring in and of itself, and after I’ve “studied” the exercises for 20 minutes I have no desire to actually do them.

All I want is a little live guidance every now and then, to push me for 45 minutes and make sure all my parts are in the right place. Nothing too crazy (not quite ready for Bodypump yet) but nothing too wimpy either. Circuit training is perfect for my body, a chance for me to get cardio without overdoing it with jarring repetitive motions, and strength training, a time to build muscle. And dude, you can’t beat the price either! $3 per class? Community education rocks…property taxes at work!

The class was packed with people of all different ages, sizes, and fitness attire. It was so vibrant that I was never really self-conscious about my hip, that between sets I had to jiggle it a little. No one noticed that I didn’t lunge as deep on my left side.

What I was self-conscious about, though, was my knack for always looking like a dancer, even when I’m trying to be buff. I have this image of myself in my mind, that, due to swimming, I’m this ridiculously toned athlete. I mean, after 30 minutes of swimming, my arms feel spent, and while it’s true that my back and shoulders have changed form from swimming, my gangly upper body still screams ballerina. Not only in appearance but in movement, too. How come some people lift dumbbells over their head and look strong, and I look like I’m practicing a port de bras with 5 pounds of iron in each hand?

Ballet days

And don’t get me started on the jumping jacks. We did a variation of the typical jumping jack, jumping out wide-legged into a squat with the arms coming through the center of our body and out to the side. In other words, I felt like I was doing small jumps in a ballet class, a series of echappes to the tune of Britney Spears rather than classical piano. I felt so proper, so poised. And I couldn’t break free from the elegance!

I love that ballet is ingrained in my body but sometimes it’s like the dorky little sister who sneaks up on you in the school hallway when you’re trying to hang out with the cool crowd. “Hey ballet, whatevs. I’m here with the chiseled athletes now, doing my super-tough jumping jacks. We’ll catch up later. Nerd.”