January 9, 2012

Meeting Frank Kennedy

So if you've ever been to the University of Manitoba or participated in any sort of athletic activity there, you've probably heard of Frank Kennedy Centre - the university's major athletic hub next to the IGAC centre. I was a student at the University for 4 years - I lived on campus for 2 of those years. Never had I been inside the gym or seen the gritty grotto (I still haven't). The only time I'd been in the building was to write my final exams.

A year has gone by since I took my self-defense course and it was time for me to participate in an athletic program again. Then I found out it was free week. Basically anyone can come to the centre and try out any program or facility; e.g. give the racquetball courts a swing. I drove from the B Lot to the U Lot post-work. I got there really early and I already felt like a fish out of water. I didn't know where to go, or what to do, and everyone else was confidently walking around in their adidas yoga-tops and polyester-mesh basketball shorts. I decided on Zumba because of the rave reviews it's had.

I had over an hour to kill so I asked the peppy desk workers (probably Kinesiology students) if there was somewhere I could "chill" before my Zumba session. (Yes I said that). They grinned and said, "Oh! You could go to the weight room! Or there's a sauna!" Yeah, not exactly what I had in mind. I'm an English student - I wanted to curl up on a cushy seat and read The Hunger Games.

I went to change in the ginormous locker room and headed upstairs, to find a bench or something. The hallways were bare - sitting was clearly not encouraged. It was like active living was forced on you already. I walked around until I found a large play structure. If kids played there, there must be a bench for their parents right? I found one in a secluded spot in front of the giant glass doors/walls that led to the pool. A kid was playing by the structure and his dad was plugging away on his laptop. While sitting there, this activewear clad middle-aged woman speed-walked by and said to the man," I hate free week. It's packed!" She was clearly irritated, and I thought, "Oh no, do I look like a freebie? I don't have a single bead of sweat on me and my shoes aren't actually indoor shoes - I've worn them outside!" I don't know if she knew the guy but she added, "ah well, they'll all be gone by the end of January." Ouch. Way to support an ongoing active lifestyle. Did she realize how haughty she sounded? Like having a full complex with people wanting to pursue athletic-ness was a bad thing. At the same time, I won't be there next week, so she's kind of right.

The Zumba class went well. The studio was really nice - walls of mirrors and laminate flooring. Our instructor was super enthusiastic and exclaimed how "fun" we were throughout the session. There were like 34 girls and 2 guys. The one guy was hilarious because he would start freestyling - I admire a healthily lack of inhibition in people. I too had issues following the steps. I couldn't keep up with the footwork at times and would just make it up. The music was a blend of reggae, latin and gangster. I stood in the second row and the girl in front of me Must have been a legit dancer - she had perfect posture, her hair was in a bun and she literally didn't miss a beat with the choreography. The girl to her left probably frequents clubs - she could've given J-Lo a run for her money.

Anyways, the session was a series of similar songs and upbeat dance/aerobic moves. It was more fun than a regular workout but I'm not sure it was as effective for me cardio-wise. I've followed other aerobic videos and was left gasping for air before the third cycle. Maybe I wasn't trying hard enough this time. It was a good experience, and it was Free exercise, which is win-win. Better yet, my no-go-to-the-gym track record has finally been broken. Personal best achieved.