I am a full-fledged life-sized grown up. I can go to a movie theater, restaurant or restroom all by myself. If I’m not sure how to get where I need to be or what I’m supposed to be doing, I have no problem asking for help. I no longer have the feeling that everyone is watching me and judging me as I go about my daily life. I don’t even need to shop at the same stores or buy the same brand of jeans as everyone else. I am comfortable with who I am, and I believe my worth as an individual does not depend on others’ opinions. All the time. Every day. Except…
I hate to exercise in public. Hate it hate it hate it. So very much. As soon as I walk into a gym or exercise class, I am suddenly keenly aware of my slouch, my too-long arms that flail awkwardly, my protruding gut, my lack of coordination and my hand-me-down workout clothes, and I’m sure that everyone around me notices those things and judges me for them. If I’m not sure how a certain machine works or what time a class starts, I’m too timid to ask anyone for help. The two times I’ve ever gone to a Zumba class, I spent the whole time looking to my friends for reassurance or to make a face to express my confusion. Basically, in that environment, I turn into an adolescent, convinced that everyone’s watching everything I do and waiting for me to mess up.
So I stay home, close the blinds, turn on the dvd player, and spend all my time with Tony, Jillian, and the Firm ladies. I can wear any ratty thing, I can sweat all I want, I don’t have to drive to get there, I don’t have to worry about child care, and I can imagine that while I look at the tv, I’m really looking at my own reflection in a mirror (and let me tell you – I look a-mazing). It’s a system that has worked for me for years. Why mess with a good thing?
It’s this dumb blog. All last week I was filled with panic because I knew this was next on my list of things to try and I started to regret even making the list in the first place. Why did I need to get out of my comfort zone anyway? It’s a nice place to be. I started to examine my pathetic workout wardrobe. I read and re-read the fitness class schedule, mapped things out on my calendar, reviewed the schedule again so I wouldn’t accidentally go into the wrong room. You know, kind of like the week before I started 7th grade.
We recently joined a rec center that offers free fitness classes and inexpensive child care, which is ideal. It’s summer, so my schedule is much more flexible, and if I’m driving there anyway to take my kids to the pool, I thought I might as well give it a try. I decided to go to five different classes this week, all by myself, with no one to hold my hand. I tried to resist the urge to buy any new workout gear, reminding myself of the Thoreau quote, “…beware of all enterprises that require new clothes.” (I did cave in though – everything I own has holes in it.) And then I just kept repeating to myself, “Stop being such a teenager!!” anytime I found myself regressing.
So when I first saw that the fitness studios were surrounded by glass walls that ANYONE could look into, I told myself to stop being such a teenager. When I had to figure out where to find the equipment for my first class, I told myself to stop being such a teenager. When I couldn’t remember which studio the Zumba class was in and I’d have to ask someone, I told myself to stop being such a teenager. When the circuit training class moved from the studio to the middle of the gym IN FRONT OF EVERYONE, I had to remind myself to stop being such a teenager so many times.
But then I realized something – no one in the classes was watching me or judging me. Everyone was too busy trying to keep up with the instructor. I wasn’t the saggiest or worst dressed or least coordinated in any class, and if I had been, nobody would have cared. And so I Zumba’d and Ripped and Stepped and Circuit Trained. And I survived. And, it turns out, I really liked it.
During one Zumba class, some 16 year old girls behind me were giggling, embarrassed because they were doing some of the moves wrong. They didn’t seem to notice that pretty much everyone was doing the moves wrong. It took all the restraint I could muster to not turn around and say, “Stop being such a teenager!!” But I didn’t because I’m too mature for that. I’m a grown up.