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Gym Belle  - noun  one who enjoys pull-ups, push-ups, lifting things up/putting 'em down, PRs of all kinds, racing, jumping, spinning, daring and blogging re same (more here)


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Appology to the Very Tan Woman

It all started last Monday.  A co-worker was telling me all about her Sunday spin session at Equinox with a notoriously brutal instructor.  I've yet to take one of his classes, but he's known for being more than a little abrasive.  He will crank up your resistance regardless of what your heart rate monitor says and yell that you're responsible for your own body weight.  Apparently, he does all this without flirting, which may be what really distinguishes him.

In any case, last Sunday's session was over the top, even for he-whom-I-will-not-name-till-I-see-it-for-myself.  He lectured the class about being more conscious of the fact that they are participating in a group activity.  He does not want to see people in the saddle when they're supposed to be out, or visa versa.  If your a** hurts, he says, so does everyone else's.  Deal with it.  Stick with the cadence, too.  If you're stomach is bothering you, leave the room until you're ready to come back.  If you don't believe in deodorant, use that all natural rock product.  Finally, he wants everyone's "bits and pieces" covered.

Perhaps for that reason, when I took my Monday night Physique class, I was particularly aware of those around me.  Just before we started, this ridiculously tan but otherwise average looking woman walked in.  She didn't respond when the instructor asked if anyone was there for the first time or if anyone had taken less than 5 classes.  Still, the tan woman didn't know what "open level" meant, and when the instructor explained that it was a class that anyone could take and that she would give us options depending on our levels, the woman replied "well, I hope it's not too easy."

I judged.  In fact, I had two uncharitable thoughts.  First, who doesn't know what an open level class is?  How can you have scheduled more than 5 classes at Physique and not get that?  It's one of the most frequently offered classes.  Second, I wanted her to get her a** kicked.  Even if you're awesome at Physique, it always hurts.  Sure, some classes are harder than others, but who did the woman think she was? 

I kept my eye on her as we got started.  She used 8 lb weights as her heavy weights.  She did real push ups.  Her form wasn't fabulous, but she was doing it.  I respect that.  When she took a spot at the barre next to me, I wondered if she was going to totally show me up. 

She did not.  She actually really struggled through the barre work and didn't take any of the harder options.  The instructor, who happens to be a very nice person, couldn't resist commenting that class wasn't too easy after all.

For the next few days, I was really bothered by how much I had wanted this stranger to fail.  Sure, her comment had been annoying, but why did I care?  Normally, I'm very positive, particularly in Physique classes.  I grimace and shake my head after each set in solidarity with those around me.  I smile understandingly at the new people.  I'm competitive, but mostly with myself and I'm not mean spirited.  It bothered me that I let myself catch this other person's negative attitude.  I worried that I not only caught it, but spread it.  What if someone noticed me judging the tan woman and felt more self-conscious?

My co-worker's spin instructor may be a little intense, but he's not wrong.  Group classes are group activities, and how we each act individually impacts the group as a whole.  So, tan woman, I'm sorry I judged you.

-Gym Belle-

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