by Jacqueline Feldman
Three observations on a French gym:
1. Just as a stern, classically trained ballet teacher in New York might turn to French in heated moments, the instructor of a Zumba class in Paris that aspires somewhere between Fosse and J. Lo occasionally deploys English (“let’s go”; “drop it low”) or Spanish nonsense (“ésta buena”).
2. Numerous sources have commented on the differences between French and American parenting and schooling, especially after Pamela Druckerman’s “Bringing Up Bébé” came out in February. Druckerman noted that French parents strictly limit their children’s behavior to certain cadres, boxes, making the kids unspoiled, self-sufficient, and respectful of authority.
Others might propose a certain schoolmarmish love for rules imbues French culture generally, with its famous bureaucracy.
The American gym goer, raised by indulgent parents and in schools that do not corporally punish, may assume she can discreetly step aside during a spin class to make a note on her phone, but she is wrong. To the French instructor, she is only another élève, and is asking for it.
3. French gym goers emote more freely than Americans, emitting grunts, cries, shrieks, even eight-counts under duress.
Of this, I have no analysis.
Then again, nobody asked me.
“La musculation” is the general term for one’s endeavors at the gym.