Airman tackles the gym: Legs, Bums and Tums

RAF MILDENHALL, England -- (Editor's note: Airman 1st Class Waters is working on improving her overall fitness throughout the year. Look for the next installation in the series next week when she takes on Cardio Kickboxing.)

Physical training has never been my strong point. Even when I was a little kid things dealing with being on land and playing sports were always hard for me.

During basketball, I was more likely to hit the top of the backboard than the rim. With soccer I'm more likely to kick someone in the shins than the ball. In volleyball, I would run away from the ball. The same thing happened when I tried to play baseball or any other sport where a ball is thrown at me.

I don't even play catch well; so gym class growing up was awful and my hate of all things physical ran deep.

Then I found swimming. Swimming was a full body workout that made me happy -- I loved the water and it suited me. I swam year round until high school when vanity kicked in and I realized that the chemicals from the pool totally killed my hair.

Another sport bit the dust.

I grew up and joined the Air Force. I realized in order to even make it through basic military training, I would need to be more physically fit.

I started going to the gym. I ran -- not a crazy amount -- but I still ran. Mostly, however, I lifted weights with my stepdad, who had become my personal trainer. I left for BMT stronger and in the best shape I had ever been in. Basic still kicked me in the face. But I made it though.

Then came the Defense Information School, where my strict eating habits were killed by a lack of self control and the fact that Chinese food restaurants and pizza places were allowed to deliver on base. Mix that with black flag conditions, and group PT was pretty much non-existent, and I was back to where I was before I left for BMT.

That's not where I want to be anymore.
As part of my goal to be stronger and healthier, I'm going to sample every class at the gym and search for a routine I like.

This week I did the "Legs, Bums and Tums" class at the Northside Fitness Center. (Note: The regular teacher was sick so the yoga/pilates teacher from the Hardstand Fitness Center came over and taught the class.)

The class flew by and the instructor made sure that we were all properly stretched and ready to workout. Even the warm up was a workout. During our warm-up squats I witnessed this little exchange:

"Alright ladies, back to your mats so we can start the workout," said the instructor.

"Start the workout? I thought this was the workout," said one of the other girls in the class.

The class was mostly pilates-based and it was fun. It was relaxed and the instructor demonstrated multiple ways of doing exercises for people with different levels of balance and physical fitness.

The instructor isolates each muscle group and would work it out, we then stretch it, then move on to the next exercise. The class made me feel the burn. The exercises are small movements but at the same time doing small circles with your leg will make your muscles burn in about two seconds flat.

It was wonderful; although the class was somewhat slow paced so it didn't necessarily make me sweat. But, the next day my body let me know I did a workout.

The legs and bums section of the class was kind of difficult but the hardest part overall was the abs. I'm not sure where she got those exercises from but the instructor wasn't joking when she said one repetition of the exercise would be equivalent to six crunches. It was hard. I thought I was going to die. My abs hurt; my legs burned; my arms were throbbing; and I thought I was seriously dying.

From the outside, the exercise didn't even look that hard. It was just passing a ball back and forth from your legs to your arms. And after one rep my body hurt, but it was the good kind of burn that lets you know your body is working hard.
This class wasn't taught by the regular teacher so I know I'll have to go back when she is there. Because of this class, I actually find myself looking forward to when the yoga/pilates class comes up on my schedule.