Babs of Steel

Have I ever told you about the aerobics instructors in Germany? Maybe I haven’t bothered because the image that you have in your head is exactly right. Just in case, let’s play…

Hard Ass

how to play: review the list of characteristics below, and identify those belonging to the cadre of pilates, yoga, and aerobics instructors at my local gym.

  • every move, from deep knee bends to finger snaps to triceps dips, is crisp perfection
  • says ‘Achtung!’ every time she’s going to tell you to change from one position to another: ‘Achtung! Triceps dips!’ ‘Achtung! Left leg kicks!’ ‘Achtung! Child’s pose!’
  • wears a headset/microphone that pipes her instructions through the speaker system, complete with waist belt transmitter; uses them to get the class started precisely on time, every time
  • is SO FREAKIN HARD and yet not unhealthily so
  • wears an off-the-shoulder top and thin cotton genie pants with the voluminous ankles tucked into 80’s style slouch socks and does not look ridiculous
  • can touch her toes while keeping her bellybutton tucked in and her shoulders back
  • never smiles, ever
  • is not kidding when she tells you to bring your shoulder blades together and lift and tuck your pelvis and bring your bellybutton in and bend your knees, stick your butt out, and come up on your toes, arms overhead, pull your lower ribs in, thumbs towards to ceiling, shoulders away from your ears, and don’t forget to control your breath. You do this because the tone of her voice suggests that there is no other option.
  • has a really hard-sounding name like Olga or Franziska
  • once the class is well established in a position, like one-legged knee lifts, and is starting to lose form due to exhaustion, and is thinking that two more knee lifts should about do it, she starts a countdown: ‘Ok!  ___ more knee lifts!’ This countdown starts at 16.
  • when she notices me falling out of an awkward pose in relief once it’s over, she reminds the class that part of what we’re working on in yoga is elegance. Now that we know each other better, she just barks ‘ELEGANT!’ at me/us. (Please imagine this word with the emphasis on the last syllable and a harshly enunciated T.)
  • eats snacks after the class

Answer? All but the last one. Germans don’t snack, and German gym instructors even more so. It’s me that wolfs down a Clif bar in the changing room after class while breastfeeding and trying to figure out how to take off a sports bra while holding a baby.

In short, if you start at Barney Street and head towards Richard Simmons Avenue, you’ll see the German Fitness Instructor Autobahn about a mile past Jane Fonda Blvd.

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