Tuesday, August 25, 2015

I Am The Instructor Of My Dreams aka A Tale Of 2 Workouts

Today I left the gym in tears.  

I woke up excited to head back to hip hop cardio after a brief hiatus due to other types of training and my knee injury.  The experience wound being a masterclass in diet culture.  4 people told me that I had lost weight.  An acquaintance from a small group training class I used to attend told me she had gained 2 pounds because she ate ice cream and nuts this summer.  She asked me what I thought, and I said I eat what I want because there will be a day when I can no longer eat nuts and ice cream.  Before hip hop, a group of women compared the weights of theirs and other people's babies.  I had to leave the room when they expressed surprise that an absent class member had a big baby because she is a "tiny little thing."  Breakthrough!  Our obsession with people's weight and drive to attach meanings to this number happens as soon as we're born.  I do love this class and Alex is my homegirl, so I stuck around.  She was great like always.


After class I sat in my car and posted this note to a FB group.

I'm so grateful for this group. This morning at hip hop was a particularly awful combination of weight monitoring/commenting and food moralizing. I was ready to cry because the self-loathing talk is so suffocating! I'm studying to be a group exercise instructor and eventually a personal trainer working with fat athletes, and it made me feel like I'll never be taken seriously as an instructor/trainer so long as the people who fill gyms are so fatphobic. Then it just made me want to cancel my membership and create my own workouts at home. When it comes to group exercise, the aggravation outweighs the benefits. ps: This experience also made me love y'all even more!

I later added this.  


I guess I should edit it to say that I won't be taken seriously because I actively interrupt fat shaming language, not because of my abilities. I hope that makes sense. I'm in this weird space where people admire my athleticism but don't change their minds about fatness. It's like I'm the exception to their shitty rules. I hate it!


The people in my group were very supportive and said that they wished that there were more fat and fat-positive instructors and trainers in the world.  I agree with them!  



                                               Creating The Class Of My Dreams



Getting started! 
All done!  



My Tuesday night class was cancelled, but my lovely instructor sent us a workout to do.  It had a 3 minute warm up of our choice and 2 rounds (1 minute on, 1 off) of 7 exercises.  I decided to exercise outside, so in order to beat the rain, I went outside and got to work.   I had a great idea.  Why not experiment on myself and pretend that I am a student in my own class.  How could I take this list of movements and turn it into the type of class that I want to someday teach?  Here's how it went!


  1. I began the class by setting an intention of being kind and present.  I chose a mantra for the session, "Close enough.  Good enough."  Each workout session is different because I am different.  
  2. Rather than worry about rushing through the workout (For me, internalized predatory capitalism looks like efficiency), I told myself that I was pretty cool for working outside next to the dumpster and with impending rain!  Maybe the rain would show up and make the workout even more awesome.  "Courtney, stay in the moment, and leave future raindrops in the future."
  3. While holding my plank, I started getting anxious and kept looking at the timer.  I stopped and encouraged myself to pay more attention to how it felt to have engaged hands and feet.  "Courtney, how does it feel to be holding yourself up horizontally rather than vertically?"  In all my years of planking, I hadn't paid attention to that change before.
  4. I included joyful movements.  I wanted to work on my rope jumping skills, so I substituted jumping for the listed jumping jacks.  I cheered for myself when I jumped backwards and in a circle.   I wasn't aiming for a certain number of jumps, just wanted to give it a try.
  5. I had a question about one exercise, and I stopped to ask it.  I wasn't afraid to request clarification.  I'm here to learn, not suffer.
  6. I listened to fun music and changed it when I wanted something faster or slower.  
  7. I had water, but I also had a bottle of sweet tea just because I like it.  I drank them both during the workout.  It was nice to have something sweet and cold!
  8. After the workout, I stretched, paying extra attention to areas that needed it, and asked myself how I felt about the class and if I had any questions.  Turns out that I have a question about squats.  I noticed that "close enough" is ok when it comes to lunges.  I didn't berate myself about them.  I thanked my body for a good time (hehe), and took it inside for a good dinner, a short rest, and a warm shower.


I finished the workout feeling empowered that I can create supportive sweaty spaces and encourage other people to create the conditions that make them feel successful.  


I'm even more excited about my future!