Have you ever noticed that an aerobics instructor yells and screams at the class like a missionary on a quest to convert the unwilling? The following story shows that such an approach may have an opposite outcome.
“Oh dear God!” said the woman seated on my left. “It’s the Frau!”
“Who’s the Frau?” I asked.
I was sitting on a spin bike in a local health club. In a fit of New Year’s resolutions I decided to engage my tired and out-of-shape body in a fitness program. This was my first time in the club and my first time in an aerobics class using a spin bike. I was seated at the end of the last row hoping to escape the attention of the rest of the class.
“You’ll find out soon enough,” she warned. A quiet groan rose from the other participants as they realized who this instructor would be.
The bike room door opened and a short beefy, blonde woman entered. She had piercing blue eyes and two shoulder-length pigtails. She was muscular, big and clearly short-tempered. A hefty welterweight, she was a strong woman whose only happiness seemed to consist of badgering others and it didn’t take much imagination to see a Teutonic helmet on her head.
She marched to the instructor’s podium and put on one of those headsets and a mike. “Velcome,” she announced. “I am Gerta Hofsteader, and I vill be taking zee place of Andrea today, no? Ve vill have a good workout today. I expect all to keep in time vif the music and I vill count. Ve vill have a good class today.” It was clear that anyone who ruined her class would pay a steep price.
I didn’t like her. She was not a kind and forgiving person. And in my physical shape I needed a very forgiving person.
She turned and jacked up the music to a painful level that caused a headache for everyone. Barking like a storm trooper, she screamed, “Von, two! Von, two! Ein, zwie! Ein, zwie! In time everyone please!”
“Why do aerobics instructors always yell and scream?” I asked the girl next to me, Sweat ran down my face and my T-shirt was soon soaked.
“You there, in the back of zee room! You are not keeping up!” Gerta glared at me. “There ist always one who ruins my class.”
She swung her attention to some other poor soul who was valiantly struggling also. She yelled at him and swung her attention back to me. “You there! Vonce again you ruin it! You are a loathsome toad! Can ve get it together? Maybe?” Gerta’s eyes were blue chinks flashing fire.
“Jesus, lady!” I muttered under my breath.
“Vhat did you say?”
“I said that you were worse than my ex-wife and her mother. If I wanted to be abused, I would have stayed married.”
Gerta got off the podium and waddled over. “Ist that right? Ve shall see! You vare an idiot! You vare a fool! You vare driving me crazy! You destroy my class!”
“I see that you must have gotten your black belt in mouth karate,” I answered.
She stood behind me tapping on the bike seat. “Ein, Zwie! Ein, Zwie!” she screamed in my ear. In order to keep up the pace, I had to stand up on the pedals and put all my weight on them. “Oh Guten Got! I see zee problem!” she said. She loosened up the resistance knob on the rear wheel and the pedals suddenly freed up.
Unfortunately, my foot was positioned at the top of the pedal and as the wheel freed up my foot failing to meet the expected resistance spun downward throwing me off balance. The bike fell over spilling me into the woman next to me. She also lost her balance and soon the last row of six bikers all spilled over like falling dominos.
But this time Gerta lost it. At the sight of spilled cyclists, a look of horror flooded her face. No doubt she visualized lawsuits. She ran out of the room pulling at her two blonde pigtails and screaming, “Nein! Nein! Nein!”
Picking myself up, I wondered if she could even count. I had only knocked over six cyclists.
Later that morning, I recovered from my bike ordeal by spending time in the sauna. After the sauna, I rinsed off and wandered to the pool area where I anticipated a warm refreshing whirlpool. I couldn’t wait. Relaxing in the warm swirling waters would make up for all the stress I had endured in today’s bike class. I looked at the temperature display on a little black box mounted on the wall. To my disappointment, the gauge showed the water temperature to be a frigid eighty-two degrees. This will never work I thought. Eighty-two degrees would never cut it.
A toggle switch, one of many, next to the digital readout read “test.” Maybe if I flicked a few switches a couple of times I could jack up the temp a few degrees.
I looked around. No one was watching. I reached out and flipped a couple of switches.
Immediately to my consternation klaxons sounded; lights flashed; bells rang. Whomp! Whomp! Beep! Beep! The flashing lights almost blinded me but not enough to block my vision of the woman at the front desk. She turned and stared in horror through the window at me. She waved her arms yelling, “No! No!”
In a situation like this there is only one brave thing to do, make a discreet retreat. I ran to the locker room and hid out in the shower as a variety of staff ran through both locker rooms and stood there scratching their heads wondering how to turn off the sirens. One staff was busy on the front desk phone calling someone and staring through the glass window at the pool area.
Quickly dressing, I snuck out of the locker room only to discover the alarms had forced everyone to exit the building. No way was I going to leave by the front door and face all those people. How embarrassing! There was only one honorable course of action and I took it. I exited by the back door.
Unfortunately in my haste I failed to read the warning that read: Fire exit. Do not use. My exit set off even more alarms.
Walking around the back of the building, I found my car and quickly drove out of the lot. As I drove off I could hear approaching fire trucks wailing and whining. Oh well. Who knew? Who knew indeed?
By the way, I received an email a couple of weeks ago from a company in France asking if I wanted to represent America in the Tour de France next summer. Maybe by that time I will be ready.