Erin Merten

Instructor, "Gatorbait" exercise class, Downtown YMCA

What's your association with the Gators?

I ran track at the University of Florida and graduated there with my masters in 2003. I've been here since 2004.

How'd you come up with the idea for the class?

People tend to ignore what they think are the "normal" classes, so I thought I'd try to get people's attention with the name, raise a little ruckus. The class started the week of the Tennessee/Florida game. I have a sign downstairs in the weight room that says, "Let's see you smack-talk when you're sucking wind."

Do people in the gym talk smack about Florida?

Definitely. Everyone knows I'm a Gator. I actually got in trouble Bruce Pearl's first year at Tennessee, the very first time Florida won the national basketball championship. I lost a bet with one of my best friends when the Vols beat Florida earlier in the season. He happens to work out here, and I had to sing "Rocky Top" in the weight room during the busiest time of the day—and I can't sing. From then on, it's been kind of a running joke.

Is the class fairly serious?

It's interval training, short bursts of high intensity exercise, each one 45 seconds or less. It's at noon on Tuesdays, and it's a different population here then. They're typically downtown workers, a little more athletic, better conditioned—hard-core exercisers.

Are there more men or women?

It's all women, although I had one man take it last week.

Do they care as much about the Florida rivalry?

They're not as intense, but most of the women who take the class frequent the football games.

Are people subdued after the loss to Florida?

Well, no one's tried to argue with me about football. Then again, I'm dressed in black today because MY team lost. Even I know what it feels like to lose... every once in a while.