LET’S TALK ABOUT INTIMIDATING GYM CLASSES

I talk a lot about intimidating gym classes. This is rather impressive really, when you realise that I very rarely actually go to all that many gym classes in the first place. I’m an anxious little creature and quite frankly… well, most of them are just too intimidating.

For anyone that has read my book (Can I Speak To Someone In Charge? available now for just £8.71 on Amazon – what a seamless plug, yes you are WELCOME), you may well remember my ‘gymtimidation’ chapter; a look at how utterly fucking terrifying the gym, as not just a building but a concept, actually is.

At the time of writing that I was pretty fit, spinning a couple of times a week and regularly being shouted at by a huge guy named Barry: “YOUR FAT IS CRYINGGGG!!!!” – although still a bundle of panic, I was at least in some sort of routine.

Two years later and there is muchos to report on the gymtimidation side of things.

You see, I have recently taken up yoga.

Ermigerddd Em, REALLY? You l-i-t-e-r-a-l-l-y never mention this at all. I’ve NEVER seen a photo of you doing a crab on Instagram or a headstand on Instagram or a fucking downward dog on Instagram and I definitely didn’t read that massive blog post you wrote allllll about getting into it back in July… WHY DIDN’T YOU SAY?!

Yes yes, if you haven’t heard, I’m an aspiring yogi now.

Watch this space, for a new, zen Em with impressive triceps and a penchant for standing on her head is about to rise from the ashes of the old, erratic, impatient woman obsessed with chocolate biscuits and dry white wine.

Well. That would be the plan, were it not for one, teeny tiny little problem.

There is something that all yogis need in order not just to maintain yogi status but to improve their yogi-ness, and that is, of course, the most intimidating class of ALL the intimidating classes…

Yogis need YOGA CLASSES.

*gulps*

See I first got into Yoga using an app, I had tried a couple of classes before (normally just when my friends promised me wine if I indulged their odd hobbies), but this whole journey (yes, yogis call it a ‘journey’), started bak in July on my iPhone when I downloaded the Daily Yoga app.

I’d spend twenty minutes (almost) every day, on my own, feeling like a bit of a twat, mostly in child’s pose (the easiest of all the poses) and being pretty bloody smug about my new found love of stretching.

At the beginning of August I went to Sri Lanka where we found an IRL app-equivalent (a private yoga teacher) who came to where we were staying and who was totally brilliant and who catapulted me into a whole new realm.

So when I landed back home, I’ll be honest, I was a woman obsessed, but I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to do about my new pass time.

I was falling in love with yoga (yes, I know, I’m the worst) and wanted to keep practising and getting better but I was, as it turned out, absolutely way too terrified to even think about going to a proper yoga class.

Gym classes, particularly ones you haven’t been to before can be overwhelmingly intimidating. Intimidating enough in fact that many of us are too frightened to even think about going in the first place.

What if everyone laughs at me? What if I am the worst there? What if I am the only girl? What if the instructor hates me? What if I fart on the way into a stretch? What if my leggings are see-through? What if I can’t do it? What if there is no room for me and I am just left standing in the middle of the room with a mat and they tell me that I have to leave? What if my feet are really gross and someone says something? What if? What iffff? WHAT IFFFFF?????

Hello and welcome to my brain before any organised group exercise.

Basically, welcome to my yesterday.

Yes, yes. After two weeks of ‘find a yoga class’ sitting a’top my to-do list, (as my fitness and motivation slipped away with every passing day), yesterday I finally dragged my anxious ass to a fancy as fuck studio near enough to my house that I could walk there, far enough away that I wouldn’t have to see the regulars on the daily (read: they won’t shame the shit out of me for getting pizzas delivered weekly or see me in sunglasses in the supermarket so as to protect my hangover from the world).

I booked myself in, had a fleeting feeling of: ooh this is what it must be like to have your shit together and be a fabulous person before exploding into a panic of oh holy hell what da fuq did I just do, I am not prepared for this shit, who do I think I am, I’m no fucking yogi, forget it, it’s not fucking happening.

Welcome to the rest of my day: an internal debate as to whether or not I should go to the class.

In the end my mind was made up for me as I read the T&Cs and realised that I had left it too late to cancel anyway and would be charged whether I went or not.

I reasoned that it is one thing to take my money and hurt and ridicule me with it, it is quite another to take my money to hurt and ridicule OTHER people with it, leaving me to feel like a failure whilst you’re at it.

I went to the bloody class.

And it was, of course, horrible.

Just like the first day of school, if school was exclusively full of actual Barbie replicas who all smelt like daises, tanned like angels and were better at walking on their well manicured hands than they were on their well pedicured feet.

I was in hell.

By far and away the least competent of the class, I became painfully aware that the sweat patch on my back was bigger than the waists of most of these women, that I was the only one unable to the splits (and I do mean totally unable) and the teacher spent rather more time repositioning me than she did anyone else.

A whole load of *no big deal* unless of course you are desperately nervous and 100% sure that you don’t belong there and that everyone hates you.

Hello me.

If I am honest, I was so busy feeling like a total fucking gooseberry that I did not enjoy about 3/4s of the 60 minute class.

(A moment of euphoria as I got into the crow position – something I have always wanted to be able to do, a smug sense of satisfaction that my spine was so bendy it enabled me to bend as far as the pros and of course the sheer glee that comes when we are told to lie down for five minutes at the end and reflect on our intentions).

In spite of this not entirely great hour of my life, I walked away knowing that I would 100% be going back to that fancy ass studio.

Partly because I had paid in advance for three classes.

Partly because every single person in that room had looked like a god and I figured it couldn’t just be a coincidence so I reasoned that if I kept going then maybe one day I would look like a god too.

I know that the next time I go it won’t be so scary and that the time after that it will be almost enjoyable, as with most things, it is the getting started that sucks the biggest balls.

It’s the fear of the unknown, ultimately, that stops most of us from branching out. But it’s frustrating as hell, not least of all because there is so much going on out there that most of us are too bloody scared to even try.

For about three years now I have wanted nothing more than to get into pole dancing. Not just because it would be nice to know that I could fall back on my body if the blogging didn’t work out, but because I think it is liberating and sexy and cool and makes you strong as hell. Alas. You can be damn sure that I am wayyyy too scared to even think about going.

Which is SO annoying.

Because even though I spent yesterday morning in an anxious state and arrived at that studio genuinely ready to cry, the class itself was FINE. Hell, naturally, but fine.

It was sixty minutes, just like any other. Time went at the same speed as it always does and before long it was over.

If I never want to go back, I never have to. I was completely un-memorable, perfectly boring, a nothing to everyone else there (depressing sort of, but also totally liberating).

The daisy-smelling-Barbie-resembling-folk were not returning to their husbands last night with tales of the hopeless woman they saw in their yoga class that day. And if they were, then I feel terrible for them that their days were boring enough that I made it into the highlight reel.

I really enjoy exercise. Endorphins, sweat, achy muscles, all of it. I like getting good at things and being good at things. I don’t even mind being bad at things as long as I’m on the right track.

What I have a problem with is the hugely intimidating nature of these classes.

I hate that I am being deprived the endorphins that I so desperately crave by what I perceive to be a whole classroom full of people judging me… not least of all because that could not be further from the reality.

Personally, despite all my moaning, I am incredibly proud of myself for what I achieved yesterday.

And so I am going to make a public pledge. A pledge to step out of my comfort zone, for the second time in as many days (ooh look at me go) and update the ol’ to-do list.

  • Find a pole dancing class
  • Book a pole dancing class
  • Go to the pole dancing class

Yup. Big-claim-Em over here, high on the fact that yesterday she went to the most intimidating of all the intimidating classes, and lived to tell the tale.

Who’s with me????

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