July 18, 2024
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July 18, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Last night I went to my first exercise class ever. Now I know a lot of people might be wondering why I spend money on food and then more money trying to work off the weight put on by that food when I could just cut out the middle step and throw money directly in the garbage. But don’t worry; the class was free.

Well, of course it was free. We had to do all the work.

The class was arranged by a former student of mine named Shlomo. Shlomo arranged for it to be held at a local fitness studio headed by a guy named Master Marcello, whom Shlomo is trying to convince of the financial benefits of holding gender-only fitness classes in a Jewish neighborhood.

This was a one-time-only free class that Shlomo assured me was not designed to sell me a membership. He told me this before the class, and he told me this again when he called me after the class and tried to sell me a membership.

But I went to the free class, because the truth is that I do need to lose weight, as is evidenced by the fact that I have a back condition that mostly affects pregnant women.

Sure, technically I could work out on my own. But I’ve been trying to lose weight for several years now, and I apparently have no idea how. So Shlomo said maybe I should take a class. That’s what you do when you don’t know things.

I should know this. I’m a teacher.

Basically, I found, fitness classes are a lot like school. It’s a class, where you learn how to do something that will help you in life. And you can throw things. But other than that, it has a lot of the same rules as a regular class. For example, no eating. Unless you have enough food for everyone. Plus there’s a teacher, and he gives you exercises, and if you cheat, you only hurt yourself. But if you hurt yourself, you get to lie down on the floor.

Sure, some people are afraid that once you go to an exercise class, you can’t stop going. Like it’s addictive, and probably not good for you. But it’s a class. The idea is that he teaches me the exercises, and then I can work out on my own, if I ever get equipment and build a gym and hire someone to yell at me. Though I suppose my wife could do that last part.

Marcello is heavily trained in fitness and also resuscitation techniques. If you pass out while exercising, he’ll bring you back and make you finish your set. In fact, his gym has a soft floor, probably because he found that people collapse during class.

And I definitely learned things. For example, one thing that I learned is that if you don’t have a lot of time to exercise, you should do more than one exercise at a time. Marcello never says, “Now we’re going to work out your legs.” He’s more like, “Let’s lift these massive weights with our hands, but squat the entire time, and also do jumping jacks.”

For example, the first exercise he had us do was hold onto ropes attached to a wall, lean back at a 45° angle, bend our knees and jump. He told us we’d have to do it for 60 seconds.

But his 60 seconds is much longer than what you and I think of as 60 seconds. The guy stands there and says, “Thirty more seconds! Just hold that pose!” and then he goes out for coffee. “Twenty seconds!” and then he does his taxes. “Ten seconds! You can do it!” and then he goes on vacation.

“Hey, didn’t you leave some guys planking back at the studio?”

“Oh, right!”

So he phones in: “Ten more seconds!”

There were breaks, occasionally. Kind of like recess. What do you do during recess when the class itself is about running around? Sit down and write essays?

Marcello also had us do a lot of exercises with a rubber ball that looks like it could be full of air but is actually full of sand. And a popular rite of passage, when you first come to the gym, is that someone picks up the ball and says, “Catch!” and the ball hits you and you can fall backwards. This is why there are mats.

Anyway, we had to take the ball, throw it up against the highest part of the wall, catch it and go “Uhh!” Ten times. Do you know how terrifying it is when a 15-pound bag of sand is falling toward you from up near the ceiling, and every urge is telling you to shriek and jump out of the way?

I’m glad I don’t teach fitness. My students would be all, “Why do we have to learn this? When in life are we going to have to throw 15-pound balls?”

I don’t know. Maybe when you’re a father, and you throw your kid in the air. We don’t want you shrieking and jumping out of the way.

I did learn some teaching techniques from him, though, such as screaming over people’s shoulders while they’re trying to do their exercises.

“Write! Ten more sentences! Just 10 more… Okay, now another 10!”

“What? I already wrote an ending!”

He does have an easier job, though. The guy doesn’t have to mark essays at the end of the quarter. He just weighs everyone and that’s their grade. I’m going to get the highest grade.

I have no idea what’s going to happen when my wife has to come in for conferences.

By Mordechai Schmutter

 Mordechai Schmutter is a freelance writer and a humor columnist for Hamodia, The Jewish Press and Aish.com, among others. He also has five books out and does stand-up comedy. You can contact him at [email protected].


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