I’ll warn you ahead of time that this might read a little disjointed. I’m exhausted and having one of those days.
Now that I’m up to three yoga classes a week, I figured it was time to add a class that was a little more cardio and strength focused. As I mentioned last week, my concern when trying a new class is that I’ll be the one person lagging behind. I like to take a space in the back so that – if I fall behind – I can see what others are doing and catch up. The back row is also my preferred spot because it allows me to hide to some degree. As ballsy and strident as I can be, being in groups of people makes me nervous. I’d hoped that if it were a group of women the vibe would be more inclusive. In most of my classes that is the case. But when the class or instructor is popular, the dynamics in that room shift dramatically. The mood goes from feeling relaxed and social to bitchy and competitive.
On every occasion where I’ve decided to take a class that has great word of mouth, I’ve walked into what felt like a viper pit. Aside from the lone man who stays to himself, the room is filled with women in or around my age range (late-thirties to fifties.) Everybody is rushing around grabbing their equipment and jockeying for a spot on the floor. Ask one of them if they’d move a scooch to the right or left and you’re treated with disdain. They maybe move a couple of inches, the whole time refusing to make eye contact with you. Depending on the class, you might overhear one of the women who booked a spot reaming out the studio manager because the class is jam packed and she can’t find a place to put her mat.
Today I had the displeasure of taking Athletic Conditioning with a guy who’s taking off the next two weeks to get some award from Equinox. He walks in three minutes before the class starts, which is never a good sign. But he’s popular so I guess that makes it okay. I managed to get some space in the back row where I was smooshed between two other women. Normally, an instructor asks the class if anyone is new and if they have any injuries. This instructor didn’t do that. Instead he jumped right into the warm up. Now, remember when I said I have trouble with my breathing? Keep that in mind. So we’re squatting and stretching and doing jumping jacks and planks with no rest time in between. At one point I stop because my breathing is so labored my chest hurts.
“Don’t stop!” the instructors shouts into his headset. “You have ears. I know you can hear me.”
I look into the mirror to see that – as predicted – I was the only one who’d stopped. Whether he was talking to me directly or not wasn’t clear, but it was enough for me to grab my weights and mat and put them back where I got them. I walked back to my spot to get my phone and water bottle trying not to disrupt anyone’s workout.
“Go around me,” a woman hissed.
Now, I never leave a class. Ever. Having taught workshops myself at one time, I always hated when people would leave early. I find leaving disrespectful to the instructor. But this guy so deeply embarrassed me that I didn’t care. I’ve taken classes with some instructors that make me want to try harder or that are so challenging that I vowed to come back and show them (well, myself really) what I could do. Not this guy. Nope.
I grew up being criticized by my father at every turn. I respond to criticism. I don’t have to tell anyone that has read anything I’ve written in the last five years that I am tough as nails. As a writer, I’ve been berated and critiqued and picked apart for years. I’m bulletproof. It wasn’t the criticism itself that rubbed me the wrong way. It was the complete refusal to try and help me get better combined with the angry/cliquey atmosphere of the room that shook me. The way that guy barked out his comments so infuriated me, I refused to stick out the class. Fuck you, dude. That’s not how you teach, and if Equinox rewards you for that approach, shame on them.
Not to be deterred, I left the gym, came home to do some some work, and then went back up to Equinox with plans to take a yoga class. OF COURSE I ended up missing yoga because I had to get my sister’s money for her rent in the mail. God forbid that’s late. You’d think she’d call and ask how that depression thing of mine is going or inquire as to how I am, but no. When she calls, it’s to complain about her life and remind me to send her check.
I’m doing squats and I feel a tap on my shoulder. I turn to see one of the male trainers in regular work-out clothes.
“Hi,” he said. “My name is Blahblah. I see you here all the time. Can I just correct you on one thing?”
Bitch, no you didn’t.
“Sure,” I said, waving him into my spot with an exaggerated swish of my hand. “Go ahead.” I’m so sure that if I were a guy with poor form, he totally would have interrupted my set, right? That’s a rhetorical question. The answer is: No, he wouldn’t.
I stood alongside the machine with my arms folded and pretended to listen while he mansplained how to do a squat, something I’ve been doing for god knows how many months without issue. I didn’t bother to thank him for his pearls of wisdom. I just stepped right back into my place, did one last set, and gave up. For the second time in two hours, I trudged down the metal stairs feeling defeated and with tears in my eyes. Only this time I got into one of the changing cubbies, sat on the bench, and cried.
Do I strike you as someone who weeps at insignificant things? Exactly. That’s how wrecked and self-conscious and inadequate I felt. Intensifying those feelings are my tours of Instagram looking for motivational work-out clips. I look at the bodies on those women then stand in front of my mirror naked and sigh. Yes, I see changes in my body. But I’m not losing weight as quickly as I’d like and now I worry my boobs are sagging. I used to get so many compliments from lovers about my breasts. Simon, the guy I’ve been casually hooking-up with for the last couple years, always tells me he loves them. (No, I don’t ask his opinion. He offers his compliments unsolicited. Granted, he’s usually inside me at the time and so maybe that’s not a great example, but I digress.) That’s fine, I guess. It doesn’t make me less insecure, though. See the
blatant bid for compliments Instagram photo below. I don’t look like that in the mirrors at my gym.
When I found out Gym Guy’s name and tracked down his Instagram, I was disappointed to see that the majority of people he followed were female bodybuilders and bikini models and dancers. There isn’t one average looking woman one either of his follows list. I see him at the gym now and I ignore him completely. I won’t even look at him, that’s how disgusted I am. Out of the corner of my eye one day I saw him get up and walk over to me, only to pivot right back around when I got up and walked away. I refuse to engage him and be one more woman that throws her panties at him. He’s just another shallow, vapid guy in this city with unrealistic expectations of women.
I got a full body spray tan over the weekend hoping it would make me look more toned. It does, but I still had to stand there naked while a woman sprayed bronzer over every inch of my body, including my ass, breasts, pubic area. At one point she took the mirror and showed me my back. All I could see was how broad-shouldered I was. I stayed in that room for about 15 minutes while the tanning solution dried. All I could do was analyze my body at every angle.
I’m not even sure I should be saying any of this, lest I be accused of being anti-feminist. It seems that talking about being unhappy with your weight or body is verboten around some parts. I don’t understand why. I watched a woman get ripped a new one on Facebook last week for daring to say she felt unhappy about being overweight. Why is that not okay? As long as we’re not saying that everyone should feel the way we feel or mocking someone’s body or choices, why can’t we express concerns about our own bodies? It’s ten days later and I’m still confused as to why there was such an uproar in the comments. Anyone care to enlighten me?
I’m so tired of being the only person in a work out class that is bigger than a size six.
I’m tired of swiping right on dating apps and not getting matches, most likely because I’m bigger than a size 6.
I’m tired of getting that pitch in my stomach every time I catch a glimpse of myself in the studio mirrors.
I’m tired of flipping through photos on Facebook or Instagram and seeing people with their significant others, wishing that was me.
Basically, I’m tired. Exhausted, really. My days are work, gym, work, writing, work, writing. My tank is empty, my soul depleted. Feelings of inadequacy trigger my depression, and so today has been a series of crying jags and fitful sleep. It’s been a good three months since I’ve had one of these days, so I’m doubly angry at those assholes for making me break my streak. I need encouragement and support and I don’t have it. Some days it’s just too much to deal with and I crack.
Today is one of those days.