A Flounder, Not a Mermaid
Wednesday, December 05, 2012
I'm usually a morning person and like to get all my workouts in by noon, but yesterday I thought I'd tag along with hubby in the evening. Let me tell you, even with the same equipment, the gym after 6:00pm is a different place than the one I'm used to. New faces, crowded, and significantly for this post, different instructors. As I do Pilates on Thursday mornings, I thought I'd try out the PM version.
The woman teaching was tiny, mid 60s and sweet as sweet potato pie -- that is, until the class started. At one point she leaned over my straining body to ask if I had ever tried Pilates before, but not to worry - I would soon 'get it'. To say I struggled would be putting it mildly. It really did look as if I had absolutely no experience lifting my legs in the air and no stomach muscles to speak of. I completed maybe half of the exercises, all clumsily too.
Formerly sweet woman, now resembling something red with horns, keep looking at me and shaking her head, no doubt wondering what in the world I was doing in her class. Here I had been bursting at the seams to show her I knew my stuff. After all, I'd been doing it in my other class.
Enter confusion and feelings of gross inadequacy as I lay flat out on my mat covered in sweat and shame. I was the 'fat girl' again. The big one in a sea of uniformly, slim and capable women who could lift their toned cabooses and hold them in the proper fashion, while I flailed around helplessly - the ungraceful body of a flounder, not a mermaid. And trust me, that is no mere metaphor. I really was like a fish out of water - with my hair pasted to my sweaty forehead and my non-synchronized, inelegant breathing.
I was instantly transported back to my school days. The shy new girl. The exchange student. The odd one with something to prove.
I wish I could say something wise regarding how different instructors teach classes in their own styles and at different levels. That much is true. But this is more about my reemerging feelings of inadequacy, which I have (mostly) been able to bury enough to convince myself they've been vanquished. Except when I am confronted with a situation in which I don't emerge all shining and golden-haired. Then, the inadequacy emerges to the surface like slime. The critical voice chimes in, telling me how uncoordinated I was in Pilates. How helpless and silly I looked. Did I honestly think I could keep up with everyone else? I thought I had quieted that voice, and all of a sudden, the months of hard work were as if nought.
I finished the class and went home in a contemplative mood, my earlier excitement having evaporated. This morning things are not much clearer except that I know I have issues to work on that are not entirely weight related.
Why I am so hasty and merciless to belittle my efforts in a way I wouldn't if it happened to someone else? Also, who am I trying to impress? I don't know the instructor or any of the other women in the class. If I did, maybe it would have been easier?
I could say that it has something to do with proving that plus-sized women are capable of being as balanced, strong and motivated as anyone else. Except I'm not a spokesperson. Not when I can't even deal with failure on my own. Still, that's only explains some of the problem. The remainder having more to do with my disporpotionate feelings of how I view my own failure and success.
So there you have it. I have a lot to work on aside from strengthening my core. Eating well, exercising, losing weight and getting stronger physically have kept me so busy that I've neglected inner me. I'm not sure how I'm going to go about strengthening these muscles. I must say it is all a little overwhelming. Especially as I was really started to believe I was a mermaid.