Friday, February 19, 2016

Fat Girl on the Bar: More on the Sisterhood

After every class, I say "This was the toughest class yet." It's old hat. But seriously last night? Toughest class yet. Ass kicking class at it's best. I have rope burn on my foot. MY FOOT. We learned a move I just watched Piper learn and struggle with. I had to do things vertically with my body. Upside down vertical. I had to struggle with my weight for the first time in class because I couldn't do some of the things because I didn't have the strength to pull 200lbs. It should have been discouraging but it wasn't because I did some things I thought I couldn't do and even the things I couldn't do, I did parts of them. I'm learning to not see these nights as failures but rather as steps to mastering hard things.

But what really impressed me last night was my class. The sisterhood as I've come to think of us. We're a small class of nine. I lucked into an experiment Canopy decided to try. Two classes in one studio. A small intermediate class practices behind us while we use the front of the room. It's fun to look over and see where we'll be some day and I kind of wonder if makes that class feel good to think about far they've come. But the real advantage is the intimacy that happens between people working their asses off together.

From the beginning, I liked these women. The laughing from the start made me feel comfortable as did the nonjudgemental feel to the group. I'm the biggest woman there, and that's always a hard place for me to be. I detest being the fat friend. I don't do exercise groups because I don't want to be the only fat person. I feel that when that happens I get lots of "extra help" in a really condescending way or I become the touchstone for inspiration "Hey look if the fat girl can do we can all do it!" Or even better the assumption that I'm not a strong ass bitch. Which I am. I promise you. My classmates didn't look at me this way nor did the instructors. Instead we were all scared shitless of this awesome adventure upon which we were about embark.

Last night it all came together why I love this class. Last night like I said was hard. And it was hard not just because these weren't my strong moves. Everyone had something last night that they didn't quite get (although one woman rocked her way through it all, and yes we all cheered her in wistful envy). You'd think there would be less laughing, more frustration, and a lot more discouragement. You'd think that but you'd be wrong.

When Jo showed us the moves, we all laughed in disbelief but every freakin' one of us got up on the bar and tried. We hooted as we fell, flailed, and then cheered for those of us who did it. At some point, I found myself sitting on the bar talking another classmate through a move. I couldn't do. And the funny thing is that it helped when I attempted the move again. No  I didn't full do it but I got closer than the first time I did it. At another point, one of our serious woman warrior members helped hold me up as I tried to do another evil move called the spear. I had to clasp the bar with my inner thighs with my legs straight above me and my hands on the bar. Yeah. Didn't happen but the fact that my classmate was willing to hold me up? That amazed me.

And I helped spot another classmate in a move I loved but that made her nervous. There were so many high fives last night as we practiced the moves ourselves and then helped others to master them. Last night I didn't feel like dead weight at all. I felt like a member of a team. It was not just about our personal selves getting the moves but an effort to make sure all of us got them. To the point where we helped each other. What's extra awesome is that I feel like Ashley and Jo are part of our team as well. They have become far more than just teachers; I feel like they're part of our little tribe. I kind of dread when we have to move onto other instructors which I hope won't be for a long time.

As I walked home last night, I did so sore with bruises and rope burn but also smiling because I felt so good. Good about the moves I did for sure but also good that I could help a couple of people out. Good that people helped me out. Good that we cheered for every hard earned victory by everyone of us. I've always been a little weirded out at calling people who are not my relatives sister. But I felt like that about the group last night. I wonder what would happen if we changed the way we approached exercise classes or any class for that matter. What if we saw each other as fellow travelers instead of competition? What if our only competition meant pushing ourselves harder? My only barometer in trapeze is myself. And because I let go of comparing and competing, my feeling towards my classmates is not one of jealously. Sometimes there is some good natured envy but it's not a petty little feeling. It's a "Damn girl, you got this and I wish I did to" kind of feeling.

I'm going to level with you dear readers: this is not an easy feeling for me. I've been groomed for a long time to treat people in class with me as competition. Of course one could be friends but there was always this tension of being better: a better teacher, a better student, a better mother. And the anxiety I felt over this made these things almost not pleasurable. The times when I could let go and just enjoy myself were freeing but those times didn't come often and when they did they were short lived. Even with trapeze I struggle with comparing but having since made a conscious decision to not approach it this way, I've made myself turn my thinking around whenever it gets to those petty places. And last night I saw what this kind of thinking leads to and it's a very fine place.

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