Fit for Life columnist Nicole Tsong has spent much of this past year as a perpetual newcomer. "It is comical and frustrating, fun and ridiculous," she says.

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ONE YEAR into this gig called working out for work, and I still can’t thrust my hips properly in a belly dance or pop the right body part at the right time in a hip-hop dance class. I will never be asked to star in a Bollywood dance number, either.

I’ve learned if weights or strength are involved, I will probably like it. If there is a competition, I want to win. If I am required to run, I will detest every minute but be grateful afterward.

I wish I had time to keep taking some of the classes — Brazilian capoeira, rock climbing and hip-hop top the list. Some, I am happy I tried — and we’ll leave it at that.

I’ve learned a lot about my own fitness, and ways in which I’m not so fit — or coordinated. Those early years doing ballet haven’t helped me much when learning dance moves. Trampolining hurt for days.

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Yes, I am sore. Frequently. It is the price I pay for cross-training for work.

I’ve also spent much of this past year as a perpetual newcomer. I take all these classes; I rarely take any twice. It is comical and frustrating, fun and ridiculous.

I have learned to be cool with mastering nothing. As soon as I catch on to a technique in an intro series, the class is over, and I’m off to the next. I’ve had no choice but to let go of concern about looking foolish.

I’ve also learned that everyone is set up for newcomers. No matter how intimidating a workout might seem, I bet you the gym or studio will do everything it can to show you how to try it out. Everyone has to start somewhere.

The classes I appreciate the most, however, do more than kick my butt. They are at the studios and gyms that have a strong community to help motivate us to stay in shape. They are the places where people chat before class and stay after to talk to the instructor. They are the places that know when someone is new and welcome you in.

I have a lot of favorite moments from this year. I am still amazed that I attempted to back flip in Brazilian capoeira, clambered to the top of the wall at the rock-climbing gym and turned into a bit of a CrossFit die-hard. I loved hearing success stories from the women at Curves on Jackson in the Central District. I still use what I learned from experts on healthy and anti-inflammatory diets. I wish I had more time to paddle Lake Union on outrigger canoes (see next week’s column).

A year ago, I was concerned I’d run out of things to write about. Now, I can’t keep up.

More than anything, I love hearing from readers who tell me they tried a new workout. I stay fit for my mental health as much as the physical, and this past year has shown me that my body and my mind thrive when learning, growing and getting stronger.

The same goes for you. So get out there, try something new and, please, report back.

Nicole Tsong teaches yoga at studios around Seattle. Email: Benjamin Benschneider is a Pacific NW magazine staff photographer.

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