We were thankful that we could fit two Body Combat classes into our schedule while we were in France last week. We went on Sunday and on Wednesday.
As I may have mentioned before, our friend Chantal’s gym, FitLane, is like the 24 Hour Fitness or LA Fitness of the French Riviera in that it’s a popular gym with multiple locations. Last time we were there, we did Body Combat at one of the Cannes locations. This time, we did one each at two locations in Villeneuve-Loubet.
I wasn’t planning to write about it, but guys. I would be doing you a great disservice in keeping this experience to myself, because should you ever find yourselves in the south of France and you decide to jump into a Body Combat class, you need to know in advance in case you land at this particular location in Villeneuve-Loubet. (I emphasize that because the other Villeneuve-Loubet location had been pretty standard.)
Wednesday evening last week, for the second time in a week, I entered the Twilight Zone.
Just when you thought that deserted hospital in Antibes was strange enough…
The Body Combat room was blacked-out dark except for thousands of tiny, colorful lights moving frenetically all over the floor, in the air and on the walls.
JUST LOOK AT THIS.
Needless to say, this is not a Power Ranger-friendly Body Combat situation.
I might have asked for confirmation that I was in the right place had the room not been outfitted with this handy tell-tale stage for the instructor:
…and if Chantal hadn’t been standing there going, “See, I told you!” (Love you girl!)
Chantal had tried to warn me beforehand. I just didn’t get it until I saw it. Even then, I couldn’t believe it. When I looked into the room, I turned to Chantal as I thought, For sure they’re going to turn on some kind of light when class starts?
Chantal was laughing.
Callaghan was also laughing, sitting comfortably at his little table outside of the room. He was not participating in the class. He was laughing at my pain.
I entered the room with Chantal and stood still, holding the side of my head against the instant dizziness as I tried to make sense of my surroundings in the dark. I’m night-blind without glasses, so it was just a frenzy of wildly moving dots of colored lights, the room awash with chaos over its inky nonexistence.
“Don’t look at the floor,” Chantal advised. “That’s the only way I can do it.”
Of course I looked down. The floor was a bottomless black sea alive with ethereal, multi-colored, round flying fishes.
I held onto hope, still incredulous that the instructor would teach in such darkness and confusion. The room was a spinning disco ball in outer space. I couldn’t stand still without my head swaying inside my skull. I’m supposed to orient and balance myself in this HOW?
The only mirror at the front of the room was about 15 feet away from the front row, tucked in a dark corner next to and behind the stage. I use my reflection as a tool in Body Combat, and I stand in the front row so I can see it clearly. In this room, I might as well have been looking at a black wall.
“This is why I usually don’t come to this location,” Chantal said as I quietly went to work on my mental game.
Because it was a mental game. The challenges here were dramatic; I had to turn the circumstances to my advantage. What if I ever have to use my skills on the street at night? It would be dark, and the darkness might include random, flashing lights or some other kind of sensory chaos. In the darkness, I started to see how this change of training environment could work in my favor. This was good. It was certainly better than dwelling on how the room looked like an 80’s nightclub hooked up and procreated with the blackbox theatre/iStage we have at work.
I enjoy a good challenge. I made it through the class without falling over or throwing up, and I got in an amazing workout! For some reason, I worked harder than usual in that environment of simultaneous sensory deprivation and overload. Rawr.