So I've been wanting to try a new exercise class. I either work out by myself or with a personal trainer. I'm fine in a one-on-one situation. I know what I'm expected to do. I know where to go. I know how I will be treated. I can function this way with a bare minimum of neuroses at play.
A group glass triggers all sorts of red flags. First of all, a new class means new logistics, new location, new routines. What if I go to the wrong place? What if I'm early? What if I'm late? And a group class is filled with new people. In the form of a ... group. In my head, they become a group of fitness Superheroes. They will all hate me on sight. They will be forged in iron and they will leave me in a fat puddle in the middle of the gym while they scoff at what a Flabby McWeakerson I am. I will never be fit enough to work out with the Greek gods that are the fitness SuperFriends.
My brain is a scary place to live, I know.
I finally emailed the instructor and told him I was going to come to class. I thought if he expected me I would feel pressured to show up. But no. I skipped on Monday because my husband gave me an out when he said he had to leave early for work.
Wednesday morning I had no such excuse. I dragged myself out of bed at 5:30 a.m. I put on my gym clothes and contemplated getting back into bed in my gym clothes. I went downstairs and put on my shoes in the dark. I decided I would walk on the treadmill and see if I hated life any less. If I was still miserable and suicidal over joining a group fitness class, I would just stay on the treadmill.
Once there, I decided to stay on the treadmill. Sure I was feeling better about life after ten minutes of cardio, but I wasn't feeling any better about how much I was going to suck at CrossFit. Maybe I would try it on Friday?
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the instructor enter the cardio room. I decided to zero in on the treadmill monitor and stare myself into invisibility. "Do not see me," I said, just like Gary Oldman in Bram Stoker's Dracula.
I even said it with an accent.
Then I saw someone moving toward me but I stared all the harder at the monitor. I could will myself into invisibility, just like I could will myself into Narnia when I was a kid being teased by the neighborhood thugs.
Oh yeah. That didn't work either. Damn.
"So are you coming?" the instructor asked me. He was standing on the next treadmill.
"Oh. Uh. Hi. Um. Well, I, er..." I pulled the earphones out of my ears and did my best to get out of it.
"Come on," he said and waved me over as he walked towards the gym.
"Yeah, uh, I, er, was thinking, maybe it will be too hard for me," I walked behind him, not wanting to be rude. "Maybe I should try it another time? When I'm more fit. I just don't know..."
He walked into the gym and I followed him like an obedient puppy. He introduced me to a group of people who smiled and welcomed me instantaneously.
"You're finally going to work out with the group?" one lady asked. She must have seen me working out with a personal trainer in the gym at some point.
The group seemed happy to have me. No one mentioned that 5'10" losers weren't allowed. I was overjoyed and motivated by both the class, and by the kindness of my fellow human beings.
Acceptance surprises me every time.
Also, I can barely walk today.
Somebody get me a wheelchair.
Somebody get me a wheelchair.