Two weeks after the final session of my core-and-flex class, I'm still mourning--which is pretty remarkable considering that I always hated gym class because it made me feel clumsy, clueless, fat, and futile. It's true that at first I had to force myself to try out the core-and-flex class, but after a month or so I looked forward to it and by the end I was positively addicted.
Why? The peppy music and pleasant people were part of the class's appeal, and the soothing stretches accompanied by deep breathing always left me feeling relaxed. There's no denying the beneficial effects of the workouts--my bad hip hardly ever bothers me these days and daily back pain is a distant memory.
In fact, the workouts worked so well that I bought some tension straps so I can continue making progress at home. I can breathe and stretch and crunch and punch on my own, and I can even turn on music to help me keep up the pace, but I'm missing one essential element: the master's voice.
The leader of my exercise class has a voice nothing like a drill sergeant's. Without ever raising her voice, she leads us to twist and push and pull and breathe, always breathe, don't forget to breathe. I'm lying on my back stretching my leg as it has never stretched before and I hear that voice urging me to stretch into the soleus, and even though I don't know where or what the soleus might be, the sound of that voice makes my muscles obey.
I can do the same exercises at home, but it won't be the same. No one will be there to tell me which muscles I'm working or to make me keep going when I'd rather just quit or to remind me to breathe, just breathe, don't forget to breathe. Sometimes I need a voice outside myself to make me do the right thing, even when it's something as essential as breathing.