Because I am a clumsy person who regularly walks into doors, Zumba was not the best fit for me. I tried it a few years ago in an effort to broaden my fitness horizons. I thought, “I can do this. There’s old people in there and they’re having a great time!” I would always walk out feeling a bit out of sorts, though: I hadn’t gotten a great workout, it wasn’t very fun for me, and the room was covered in mirrors so everyone could see my lack of rhythm. I came to terms with this, reasoning that it’s not the end of the world that I will never be anything close to a decent salsa performer or belly dancer.
Similar stories to mine are not hard to find, I’m happy to say. Sometimes we try a new exercise or sport and we’re so terrible we never do it again; other times it was just that first time that was awkward and then we get the hang of it. This week’s Fit Crypt brings together the incompetence in all of us.
“The first time I ever tried spin, I went to a class that in hindsight may have been rather cultish. The instructor seemed very annoyed to have a new person in class and was not particularly helpful in setting me up properly. Then the lights went off in this tiny, tiny room and a black light was on, making white stripes on sneakers and tops glow. The music was blaring, and the instruction was barely audible. Small room, dark, loud music. I tried to “get into the groove” and give it a try, but it was all a bit much for me. I left within 10 minutes in tears. I gave spin another try at another gym and had a much better experience–kind instructor, no black lights, less freaky music, etc. I am now a total fan of spin and take it at least twice weekly.” – Anna G. Rubin
“When I went to my first kickboxing class, I went with my mom. She did great, but I was in there for about twenty minutes before I was dying. Also, I don’t wear my glasses to the gym so I couldn’t see anything. I’m pretty sure I was just doing a monkey dance in there.” – fellow DIR staffer Samantha Bandasack
“I’m a yoga expert, even teach informally, but I had never tried Bikram or “hot yoga,” where they keep the room something like 90 degrees, and you drink water constantly and do yoga slowly for 75 minutes. When on a trip, I tried it. I have had heat stroke before, so I recognized it! Even though I drank water constantly, in 15 minutes, I was suffering from dehydration and looking like a fool while the other students eloquently moved from one beautiful asana to another. To prevent distractions, the teacher forbade students from leaving the room early, so I had to wait another 60 minutes before I could leave. I was sick the rest of the trip! I know it works for some people, so I don’t discount it, but for me “hot yoga” is “heat injury yoga!” – Monika M. Wahi
“I took up running briefly. I was running with a friend, and I think we were poorly matched. I got discouraged from pushing too hard. So, instead of running by myself, I just quit.” – Willie Hurl
“When I started playing soccer in college, I knew pretty much nothing about it. I didn’t even bring shin guards to the tryouts. At my first game, my coach kept yelling at me that I was offsides – the problem was, I had no idea what that meant. Finally, during a timeout, he said, ‘you don’t know what offsides means, do you?’ And I had to admit I didn’t; it was so embarrassing. I stuck with it though, and got the most improved player award at the end of the year.” – Abby S.
The gym, fitness classes, or even a run around your own block can be quite intimidating if you’re new to the sport or activity. Roll with that, and be open to the new experience. If your first time doesn’t go so well, like Anna’s nightmare spin class, follow her lead and give it a try elsewhere. Every instructor is different, and every class environment is different. If after a couple of various tries and you still aren’t in the groove, count your losses and find something that is a fit.