Wednesday, May 04, 2011

"Is this your first time?" (182.2)

This morning I took an 8:00 a.m. Step class.  It's a push to get to a class that early--Sophie gets on the bus at 7:30, and I take Luke to daycare before I go to the gym.  I'd planned last night to do this class, so I had my gym bag packed and my workout clothes laid out in the bathroom.

Still, even with the advanced prep, I didn't leave until 7:45 and was 15 minutes late to class.  No biggie--I figured I'd get a decent 40 minutes in.  It's a super intense class. I took one last week and fell in love.  It had been years since I'd taken a Step class, but I picked it back up with no problems.

This morning the instructor was hard to hear and didn't give adequate lead time or enough description for her instructions.  The class is full of regular class takers, as evidenced by strong thin bodies scattered around the room.  There are usually one or two other overweight women in the later morning classes I take, but not today at 8 a.m. Today it was just me with the excess poundage.

So during the first break (the class is broken into 5-6 minute song segments), the woman behind me introduces herself and says "Hi, I'm Barbara. I'm an instructor here. Is this your first time?" No, I smile and say I've taken step classes before.  "Okay, well, sometimes it's easier to get the steps right if you watch the person in front of you, instead of the instructor.  Because she's doing the opposite of what we are doing."  Okay, thanks, I say, a little confused. I was doing just fine--it took me a bit to get the steps right, because I came in late and started while they were in the middle of a segment, but I was hitting the steps right most of the time and wasn't just standing there like a lost newbie.

Then the rest of the class, I felt like a newbie because the instructor's directions were so poor and the mic wasn't loud enough.  And instead of thinking "how nice" Barbara was, I was resentful that she thought I needed extra attention or instruction. 

Inside my head, it's the same refrain from the guy who snarked at me for being on the road instead of the sidewalk.  She's talking to me like that because I'm 30 pounds overweight. I don't look like I belong there.

I often feel like I should be wearing a sign that says "Previously fit and trim! I know what I'm doing! Please do not give the fat girl advice."  There really are very few overweight people at the gym in the mornings, at least that I've noticed.

I've been a member at this gym off and on for years (and my husband used to teach kickboxing classes here, years ago), and several of the instructors still remember me.  The ones that I knew before, I don't feel like I need to give my fitness resume to them. We say hi to each other in passing or in the locker room, and they are glad to see me in class. I know they know I used to run laps in the gym and take two Body Pump classes a week.

The others, I wish I could take a few minutes and say, "Hi! I have run five half marathons and have lost 55 pounds and used to be a size 8 and could lift heavy weights in Body Pump and could do tricep dips with my legs straight out from my body, just like the instructor does! So, really, I don't need any special approving looks during class or a "thumbs up" that I'm doing well (that's what I got from the instructor when I took my first step class last week, who also asked me if it was my first time, but she was teaching the class, so I wasn't as bothered by it).  I just need time to get this weight off, and then I'll be just like you!"

Just getting this out here makes me realize how silly this is.

You know in the movie A Few Good Men, how Demi Moore is always trying to impress Tom Cruise with her legal exploits....he says to her at dinner "why are you always giving me your resume?" And she says "because I want you to think I'm a good lawyer."  I guess I sort of feel like that.  I just want all these fit, thin women to think I'm a fit, thin woman, too.  I just don't look like it yet. 

I didn't feel like this the first time I lost weight. I felt like I was on a mission and any attention I received made me all warm and fuzzy inside. 

I don't know why I'm having such a hard time now.  My self-esteem is obviously in the toilet, and it's so screwed up with the "I want attention, no wait, I don't want attention" thing.  I don't know why it has to be so complicated in my head.

Thankfully none of this craziness is a deal breaker.  I still LOVE the gym in the mornings. I love using their hot water and shampoo & conditioner (I know, so weird, yet I get a thrill from not using my bathtub all week).  I love being in a class with a group of people who are pushing themselves.  I love knowing that I'm already stronger.  And in two weeks I'll be even stronger.  And on and on. 

And I'm thankful I have therapy again next week, because clearly, this crazy talk has got to go.


Kara said...

As someone who used to teach, I can see it from their side. I really REALLY wanted people to come back to my class and enjoy themselves (and get a kick-ass workout). I never would have thought my attention could make someone so self conscious. I wouldn't give extra instruction because someone seemed fat/out of shape, I would do it to anyone I didn't recognize.

Laura N said...

Kara, thank you for your perspective. The instructors at my gym are really great--they are sincere and helpful people, and they definitely care that we get a great workout. I know that my response to their interest and attention is an overreaction, and something I am going to work on with my therapist.

In reality, I'm sure it's like you explained--it's because they didn't recognize me that they said something to me. And it had nothing to do with my size. Your explaining it that way actually helps me process it much better. So, thanks!!

Vickie said...

I was going to say the exact same thing to you - don't try to follow instructor, positiong yourself between two great people and watch one when you are facing forward and the other when you are facing back.

That is the KINDEST information to give to someone, because the majority of people do not think of it and try to follow the instructor no matter what.

And I think, unless you know the whole routine by heart, THAT gets a much harder workout because it is easier to focus on the people right around you and then REALLY push.

Later, when you do know the routines by heart, being in one of these 'core' positions in class (with an student/instructor who takes the class herself for conditioning) will push you harder.

I agree it didn't have anything to do with your size. An experienced instructor will see you as a newbie if you are hesitating a fraction of a second in your moves. And if you (or anyone) doesn't know the routine, you will have that hesitation. And they didn't recognize you.

Interesting (again) that you attributed it to FAT. Because my mind (like the guy on road) would not have gone there.

You can be a powerhouse, even at higher weights. All the weight does not have to be off for you to excel in classes.

This is always strong in my mind because one of my first yoga instructors (julie) was on her way down from 300lbs after her 3rd csection when I met her AND COULD LIFT HER BODY WEIGHT. Like hold a plank like no one else. Just think of the power that requires. It is like having Bob fully sitting on you instead of Jillian.

I think you are just plain embarrassed at your weight - ?

And I think this might be very helpful if you channel it. Like when you go to put junk in your mouth or even think about eating at night - remember these moments. I think these moments can GET YOU TO EVERY CLASS and INSURE YOU EAT REAL FOOD if you let them.

Jill said...

I'm going to ditto what Kara and Vickie said, I don't think it was because of your weight at all. I think if you had been a size 0 and had been faltering your steps, they would have said the exact same thing to you. Same with the jerk on the road - just you being THERE is what set him off - not your size.

Hearing you talk about the gym makes me want to join a gym! I really like the idea of the social aspect of classes and I think it's one of the reasons I like Zumba so much - all those people doing the same moves at the same time for the same reasons - just makes it so fun! I'm glad you are going back and not letting this derail you. Keep it up!! :)