I saw failure yesterday, so I invited her in for tea.
Failure was a woman this time, with the kind of toned, tight arms and back I’ve always wanted. She wore a ponytail and sweat didn’t sting her eyes. She came in for a post-workout protein drink. We decided to be casual for this party.
I figured my first tea party with failure this year would be work related. But writing is going well. Instead I’m paying for a gym, by gum, and want to freaking get my money’s worth. So I went to a class yesterday. That’s when Failure came a-knocking.
I’m very annoyed at the gym. It has various levels of classes, and used to have a yoga class in the mornings. But not enough people came, and now all the yoga classes are at bad times for me so I have to take the more strenuous classes. So I was already cranky.
The room was absolutely full. This is a ridiculously popular weights/cardio/yoga program, and just for funsies, it’s done in a super hot room. I had to have some very toned, already sweating people scoot to give me room for my yoga mat.
At the front of the room. Newbie in the front so everyone could see…
Fuck, I gotta get there earlier next time.
I’ve got an ankle with tendonitis, but just between you and me, I would have done poorly even if I hadn’t been modifying the program to make up for my brace. Just a few exercises in this furnace was murder. Plank, then down to forearm plank, then plank again! Mountain climbers! Burpees! Yoga with weights! Squats! Jump squats! Push ups! Funky crunches! MORE PLANK.
Halfway through I took a “water break” just to get out of the heat. This meant I had to walk through a bunch of tightly packed people exercising much better than me. “Don’t compare yourself to anyone else,” everyone says. But we all do. And I could hear, “this sucks, but at least I am not lumbering through and taking frequent breaks like that woman in front of the class.”
(My saving grace was I’d worn my prescrip. sunglasses and left my everyday glasses in the car. Once the sunglasses came off, I couldn’t see a goddamn thing. So if people were looking at me, I had no idea. So I had that at least.)
Near the end of the class, all I was doing was hanging on and hoping I wouldn’t faint. Or vomit up all the water I had drunk so I wouldn’t be left a dry husk on the floor. It was at this point that I had my epiphany. This was a failure.* This was something I had to do, accept, acknowledge, process, and move on.
At 42, with the metabolism slowing down, I’m rapidly becoming what Douglas Coupland calls a “thin fat person.” I’ve never been very big but what there is of me is getting squishy. I’m a writer and sedentary. I haven’t truly exercised since August. I have always had toothpick arms. And I sat in a car a lot over the holidays. Also, holidays. I am out of shape.
This is the second time I’ve done this crazy popular weights/yoga/cardio/hot as hell class. There’s no way I was going to do as well as everyone else in there. There’s no shame in that. I struggled. A lot. Then, I looked up at the ceiling while I was doing one of my 2,395 breaks during class, while everyone around me continued doing crunches, and realized it was OK. This sucked. It is going to keep sucking for some time until my body starts to wake up. That’s OK too. I just need to keep doing. Failure and I are going to keep working out together and keep trying not to faint together, and have a protein drink (do they have to taste so gritty?) together afterward.
I see you, Failure. Come on in and have a cup of tea – er, gritty protein drink – and we’ll talk about my workout plans.
* Please don’t worry about me and think that I’m super down on myself. Go and read this blog post about Failure and 2016.