just this past weekend i was talking to sadia after a super sweaty soulcycle class with lauren mchale, one of our favorite teachers and admitted that i was grateful that the room is dark and i’m usually not in the front row because i was completely certain i make ugly face all the time in class. whether it’s the out of the saddle sprinting where i feel like a tiny pup treading water during a tsunami trying to keep my head up and chest forward or if i’m pushing against several turns too many on the resistance knob while sitting unable to use my body weight to push through the pedal stroke i know my face is doing things outside of my control as my body is too busy focusing on not giving up.
burn sf is only my third foray into group fitness in my life if you count yoga as one (i sorta don’t since my main reason for going to yoga isn’t necessarily fitness related). burn is about an hour of cardio, weights and pilates (springboard). you move from high impact cardio moves (jumping jacks, burpees, side runs, to cardio with dumbbells, to floor core work, to spring board work for legs and arms. the spring work is usually more towards the later half of class but everything else is fair game as you move from burpees and mountain climbers to bicep curl lunges to bicycle crunches at what feels like lightening speed.
i’m usually dripping sweat within 5 minutes of class and by the end i’m using hand towels so i don’t slip all over my now drenched mat. how i have not yet completely face planted during plank-ups is a miracle.
with all this soulcycle i’ve been doing i’ve gotten comfortable sweating and screaming and grimacing in a safe dark space.
not well lit open studios with music at a normal decibel where everyone can hear you…dying…slowly.
several times i was off during side planks and found myself facing the lady in front of me. every time we made eye contact she smiled and i couldn’t help but nervously laugh though various parts of my body were doing the opposite.
i was off the entire class so we found each other face to face a lot this morning. i was typically making ugly face, trying to not slip on my own sweat with various body parts quivering. each time she would smile encouragingly i started trying to smile back but my brain was too busy trying to figure out how to get my body to do whatever shape was supposed to be happening at the moment so my face stuck in the ugly position for the most part. i had the best intentions.
the worst place for me to make friends is in the middle of a side plank hip lift.
after class as we were frantically wiping down our mats for the next class which was already strolling in she asked me how i liked class.
“it was hard,” I answered honestly. “but i loved it!”
“yeah, she builds class in a way that when you think you can’t do anything harder, you’re asked to and you have to do it.”
“i know! what is this ‘have to’? and why do we all do it?”
“i don’t know,” she said as she wiped down the last edge of her mat and handed me the spray bottle of multi-purpose cleaner. “i think we all have our own reasons but for the most part we do it because we want to get stronger. you know, get better.”
she wished me a good morning and bounded up the steps to the waiting room in what looked like 2 long strides. i thought about what my slow hobble up the stairs to fetch my shoes and hoodie would look like.
there are times when i see women after a workout and they’re glistening and glowing, their baby hairs matted to the napes of their necks, their top knot messy bun perfectly un-perfect, their tiny little barefoot feet pit-pit-pitting around a fitness studio like nimble little fairies as they giggle and talk to their other glistening friends after class and i wonder if that will ever be me.
and will i ever get over wanting that to be me.
will i ever get over it because my flat hobbit feet and chunky cankles aren’t going anywhere. my short torso and wide ribcage are set in place by ossified bones that dictated my shape a long time ago. a long time ago when i had no idea that i was still growing and malleable and if i had just discovered pilates and yoga during puberty maybe i’d be at least 5’ tall. if i had only known earlier. if i had started caring earlier. if i had known better. if i hadn’t scarfed one too many peanut butter kandy kakes for breakfast. if i had…
if i had, who knows who i would end up looking like or being today?
sometimes i can’t help but think about this alternate universe me and if she would have used her powers for good or evil? this bizzaro world me is always some sort of hybrid ballerina/ninja who has never in her life experienced thigh chafing in the summer time or coming to terms with ugly face in a well lit group fitness studio.
she doesn’t exist and she’s in my way.
i get so bogged down with these ideas and it’s ridiculous because it’s all so intangible and change is possible. the idea of these women who glisten. the idea of my alterna-me non-chaffing ninja. i made these things up. i gave them weight and power.
i can change my mind. i can let it go.
i can’t change my body to be this impossible thing. the past couple of months of losing weight has been great but at times misleading. i can lose fat. i can build muscle, i can get stronger but i can’t wake up tomorrow with someone else’s bone structure and genetics.
but i can change my mind.
and i can choose to get out of my own way and trust that i’m exactly where i need to be.