What is ‘Flex’ Class Really? | The Girl Who Hates Working Out

Friskis & Svettis (my gym, chosen because they let me pay per workout – the name means healthy and sweaty) describes Flex as “Athletic and focused movement training for the whole body”. They say it’s similar to Yoga and Core.

I chose this because:

  1. It’s not Yoga – I’m not really into all the spiritual stuff
  2. I don’t have to buy shoes – it’s such an investment if I’m only going to work out a few times
  3. It doesn’t look like the kind of workout that makes people throw up afterwards

I have to admit that I’m not dreading it nearly as much as I thought I would. I think this is because I don’t think it will be all that bad. It seems like a lot of stretching. No aerobics, no weights, just gentle bodyweight exercise – nothing I can’t handle.

friskis reminder

On the 10-minute walk to the gym, these are my thoughts/worries:

  1. Am I going to be the only newbie?
  2. Are they going to awkwardly introduce me to everyone in the class?
  3. What if we have to pair up?
  4. Are my workout pants see-through?
  5. Do I need to take off my glasses?
  6. Did I shave my armpits?!

Gyms are intimidating places, and at this particular branch they have a large window so that you can see all the athletic people working out in the gym before you even head in. I hate gyms. But I push the door open and fake confidence all the way up to the front desk. I’m in – hurdle number one has been cleared.

Time for stage two of gymtimidation. Changing rooms. I stupidly pick the side of the changing room that is visible when people come in and out, so every time the door swings open I immediately check to make sure I’m not too exposed. My outfit: a cheap sports bra I bought a few years back when I thought I might, maybe, possibly, workout at home; Lifesum workout leggings that I got as a Christmas present (so that I can publicly shame my company); and a black tank top to hide everything I don’t want everyone to see. I’m pretty comfortable in what I’m wearing, except that my ankles are very, very dry, and I wish I had moisturised. As I head to the studio, I notice another big mistake: no water bottle. Amateur. This is going to be fun.

“How much room should you leave between mats? What distance is obnoxiously over the top and what distance is definitely encroaching on other people’s personal space?”

In the studio I notice people starting to stretch or grab yoga mats – everyone seems to know what they’re doing except me. So I pretend like I know what I’m doing and grab a mat. But grabbing a mat is the easy part, finding a place to put it on the ground is the harder part. How much room should you leave between mats? What distance is obnoxiously over the top and what distance is definitely encroaching on other people’s personal space? I decide the more space between us the better, and place my mat between an older guy and an older lady. The guy is wearing glasses and has definitely done this before (he was one of the stretchers) so I figure I can keep my glasses on.

Five minutes until class starts.

I sit down on my mat and look around the room. I’m surprised by the number of older people participating, and I’m annoyed by the massive mirror opposite which I’m convinced is going to show me (in HD) exactly how stupid I look during the class.

And then it’s time to start.

But not before a pre-workout selfie – which is actually kind of embarrassing to take – but hey, I did it for you guys.


“At one point we all lay on our backs like helpless turtles and the instructor has us trying to copy her”

Despite the dryness of my ankles (note to self, next time moisturise), I forget my self-consciousness after 5 minutes. It’s hard to focus on yourself when you’re trying to stay focused on nailing the moves. We start with two warm-up songs, which make me extremely grateful for the extra deodorant I lathered on before we got started; and gently work up a sweat. It’s not hard and doesn’t make my heart feel like it’s going to beat out of my chest but it does take my breath away enough to make me feel like I’m doing exercise. We work our arms, our backs, our shoulders, our stomachs, our hips and our thighs, and it hurts a little, but not an unbearable amount. At one point we all lay on our backs like helpless turtles and the instructor has us trying to copy her – something I find incredibly frustrating given that I am laying on my back and thus can’t see her, let alone copy her, but I survive this too.

30 minutes later I’m wishing the class is over – and not because it’s hard, even though I am tired – just because it’s a little dull – apart from one moment when the singer in the dubstep song playing screams ‘RING 911!’, but no-one seems all that alarmed.

And then it ends. And I’m a little relieved that it’s over and I can go do something else. It wasn’t awful. It didn’t make me want to throw up, the moves were doable, and for someone who is new to working out you can pretty much show up and leave without having to say too much to anyone (unless you want to). I did it.

1 down, 4 to go.

– Femi

P.S. I saw a number of people turning up to class together and I was a little envious. I do think this would have been a lot easier if I’d gone together with a friend. I’d have been a little less self-conscious and had someone to laugh with – I’d definitely recommend working out with a friend.

P.P.S. I have to admit something. This wasn’t a bad workout experience. I think it was a pretty good one, and even if I don’t feel that this particular workout was exciting enough for me to want to do again; I got a weird sense of empowerment from it. All of a sudden it feels like less of a challenge to try other workouts – maybe the gym still isn’t for me, and maybe I’d rather not go alone; but where before I felt ‘I can never workout, I hate it’, now I feel more like this, ‘It’s not that bad, I can do it.’ I still don’t think that I’m about to become the kind of person who is obsessed with working out and does it for fun, but at least now I know that I can workout if I want to, and it’s not that bad.

Femi A-Williams is a health and fitness convert trying to reconcile a healthy lifestyle and a happy food life. She is 80% whole grain and 20% donut.

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1 comment

  1. By Christa Allan on Thu Jan 28 2016

    LOVE this : ” gymtimidation” Experience that often as I never seem to have the cute and/or expensive work out clothes.