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Reporter chooses easy exercise class
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Times reporter Savannah King gets a first-hand look at a Strength and Motion exercise class at the Frances Meadows Aquatic Center Monday morning. The class, led by Wendy Peacock, offers participants a workout using light cardio combined with the weights.

To be totally honest, I haven’t felt very motivated to exercise lately.

I’m still interested in health and fitness. I spend the time I should spend exercising either looking up healthy recipes and exercise moves on Pinterest or reading health magazines. Lately, it seems like I’d rather just think about exercise than actually do it.

So when my editor (and apparently my fitness conscience) reminded me it was my turn to write about a fitness class for this series, she suggested I take one of the "hard-core" boot-camp-style classes I’ve previously expressed interest in.

Well, like I said I haven’t worked out much lately so I knew whatever workout I chose would likely make me sore the next day. So the question of which class to take became, "How sore do I want to be after this?"

I looked for something that sounded easy, something that might be just enough exercise to jump start my motivation.

I settled on Strength and Motion taught MOndays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 11 a.m. at the Frances Meadows Aquatic Center. It’s only 45 minutes long and open to "all ages," which I’ll admit made me assume the class would be fairly easy. If there is one thing this job has taught me, it’s to assume nothing.

Wendy Peacock, fitness instructor and personal trainer, told the class to grab a chair, a mat, a ball and some weights. Besides myself, there were seven other people — of all ages — in class.

Peacock started the music and everyone immediately began warming up. A few people were still chatting with one another as they stepped side-to-side to the beat. Clearly, these people were regulars.

The exercises were simple enough: bicep curls, lunges, squats, leg lifts and abdominal exercises on the ball. The challenge came from the number of repetitions.

I tried my best to push through my discomfort and stay with the others. But as I looked around, the room I realized everyone else was doing only what they were capable of.

Some people modified their positions to make a move easier on themselves. Some people took a break for a few moments and joined the group when they were ready.

Peacock said that’s the great thing about the class; anyone can participate and improve their fitness no matter what level they’re starting at.

"We work almost every muscle group, but it’s only 45 minutes so we only scrape the surface," Peacock said. "It’s not real intense. Nobody’s going to leave my class and the next day not (be) able to walk because they’re so sore. Because they can get out of it what they want out of it. They can push themselves and do the heaviest weight or scale it back and just do the bare minimum depending on their fitness level."

The class used to be called Senior Fit, but the regulars decided the class needed a name change because not everyone who took the class was a senior.

"It was supposed to be for old people, but we decided this was not a class for old people," longtime class member Cristie Garrett said with a laugh.

She and her husband, Stephen Garrett, have been taking the class since it started about five years ago. The couple decided to start working out together after they retired because they wanted more energy and better health. Cristie said she’s definitely seen her body change since she started taking the class.

"I have a lot more muscle mass, more energy than I did before and I just feel better in general," said Cristie Garrett. "Anybody that’s sedentary needs it for sure."

As someone who’s been sedentary for the last month, I totally agree. By the end of the class, I was sweating and my muscles were shaking.

After class, I walked up to Peacock and told her how I was pleasantly surprised by my level of exhaustion. I actually felt pretty good.

Peacock said she hopes other people who haven’t been active will feel motivated to try the Strength and Motion class or any other that sounds interesting to them. When selecting a class, it’s a good idea to ask questions and choose one that’s more aligned with a person’s individual fitness level.

She said she meets a lot of people who might want to make steps toward a healthier lifestyle, but don’t ever take them because they’re intimidated by a gym environment.

"I hate that because everybody has got to start somewhere you know," Peacock said. "You’ve just got to start somewhere. I don’t want this class to be too difficult. There are some classes in this facility that are meant to be difficult and if a beginner went to them, they’d be discouraged. ... I want this class to be challenging for those who want it and not discouraging for those people who are just starting out."

For more info on the class, visit http://www.gainesville.org/fitness-classes or call 770-533-5850.

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