A few months ago I was at the Barn for a Body Pump class. There were two instructors up on the stage. I’m not sure why they have two. Maybe it’s so one person can walk round the class helping people while the other teachers. Or maybe it’s because when you’re teaching a class in a basketball court, you so get exhausted from shouting to make yourself heard that it’s nice to swap the microphone with the other instructor halfway through.
There were a lot of new people that night. And it’s always the same story. Bad form ahoy! Wonky squats, swinging bicep curls, awkward lunges. I remember the first time I did Pump in 2001. I knew diddly squat about squats. It’s a crazy new world in there! Now I watch people wrestle with the bar and squint at the stage, trying to absorb so much new information. I want to run over and say, “Don’t give up, pet! It gets better!”
On this occasion there was one woman doing a particularly unusual interpretation of a squat. As the track went on, I saw Instructor 1 (who was on the mike) glance at Instructor 2, nod their head towards Wayward Squatter then grin. I2 looked and smiled. And so it went on for another few minutes. Nod. Grin.
Then Instructor 1 actually rolled its eyes. I2 shook its head with a hint of exasperation then decided to step in. In the most un-freaking-subtle way possible. I2 threw the bar down with a mighty clang that echoed round the court, jumped off the stage and ran over. I2 stood beside the Squatter and demonstrated the correct form.
Maybe I am just an oversensitive fatass, but I found myself getting rather angry and defensive on the Squatter’s behalf. Sure, the instructor was nice to help her out, but crikey! Every single person was staring, trying to be casual about it as they sank deep into their bottom-half squats. The Squatter was clearly flustered, and the more I2 corrected her, the more she’d fluff it up.
I remember the first time I rocked up to a group class; all the fretting I’d done about even turning up; how fragile my resolve was. I was just looking for confirmation of my fears that I shouldn’t be there, that I didn’t belong. I already feel like an idiot simply for daring to be in the same room as these nubile regulars, resplendent in my baggy trackpants and oversize t-shirt. I recall looking in the mirrors and thinking very specifically that I looked like a potato. A potato with eyes, standing in a sea of celery stalks.
So if my instructor had done the eye-rolling, half-smirking, dramatic bar-throwdown thing with me, I would have slunk out the door and never come back.
I just wanted to yell at them, where’s your empathy? Isn’t fitness meant to be for everyone? You may not be able to relate to the Squatter’s overweight body, but haven’t you ever been crap at something before? Were you ever a beginner or did you emerge with those muscles straight from the womb?
I am hyperconscious of not forgetting what it feels like to be right at the start of a lard-busting journey. It would be all too easy to be smug, arrogant or complacent. It is possible to be proud of your own achievements without sneering at the efforts of others. Especially since we’re all just a few skipped workouts and a bag of cookies away from being there again.
(The Wayward Squatter never came back.)
. . .
I ranted about the above to the Scottish Companion months ago when it happened – I bet he thought I’d let it go by now! No way, mate! You know I just use you to test out my material before I write it on here. Hehehe.
. . .
So I lost 0.9kg (2lb) this week. Woohoo! That’s 75.7 kilos (168.8lb) gone in total. “You’ve lost a whole me!”, said the Scottish Companion. How bizarre.
This new softly softly approach feels so much better. There’s balance. No extremes or denial. I ate the 0% fat yogurt and the sunflower seeds but I also factored in the three slightly stale Mint Slice biscuits (brought all the way back from Oz by a good mate). Softly, softly!