Another milestone achieved today: I attended my first exercise class in South Africa. For me, attending an exercise class in another country is always an exciting and nerve-wracking experience and, therefore, a rite of passage into a new culture. I’ve written before about the vastly different spinning experiences I’ve had in different countries and about gym culture in Latin America. But Africa’s a whole new ballgame, and so I wasn’t sure what to expect from the 9:30 am Pilates class at my local gym, Planet Fitness.
When I got to the classroom, I grabbed a mat and set it out near the back of the room, away from the instructor’s platform, because only hotshots sit right up front on their first day. As I waited for the instructor to show up, I checked out the fifteen or so other women in the class. Most were middle-aged, slightly pudgy, and white, but there were a few exceptions, including a girl who was a dead ringer for a brunette Taylor Swift. I may have stared at her a little too long while trying to figure out if she was, in fact, Taylor Swift in disguise. I mean, she was wearing GLASSES for Pete’s sake. Lamest disguise ever.
The instructor, whose upright carriage and floaty hand movements suggested that she was a former dancer, led the class through a series of movements that was not, in fact, Pilates, but her accent was so charming that I didn’t even mind. These South Africans and their accents, I’m telling you. I didn’t question it when she told us to do a downward facing dog and then bend our knees and hover them over the floor, because her accent was so pleasant to listen to. But yeah, that’s not Pilates.
To be fair, SOME portion of the class did involve movements that I recognized as Pilates, like rolling like a ball and leg circles. But most of it was just gentle stretching with some yoga moves thrown in. Ah, well. I’ve had MUCH weirder Pilates experiences. Ain’t no thang.
The obvious question now: I wonder what the gym’s spinning (or, as it would be pronounced here, “spunning”) classes will be like?