I used to enter my workouts innocently — yawning mostly, blinking a lot, putting my hair up into a ponytail like a drunk sloth while wondering how I made it from my bed to the gym without getting hit by a car. I was docile and calm in those early minutes before the slow drip of adrenaline kicked in, not yet emboldened by the hubris and ego that comes with a completed workout nor struck with the mid-class panic of realizing it isn’t over yet.
“Find a spot by the bar,” the instructor would say.
I’ve had the same spot every single day for the past two months – it’s near the back right corner of the room, in front of the mirror but not too close to the teacher. In order to secure bar-territory one has to literally mark it (if you do this with pee like a cat, that’s considered weird, so I just set a water bottle down at the beginning, like a human). But if there’s no time upon entry, you have to mark it with your eyes, and do that quick-walk with clenched butt cheeks, which propels you forward faster without running. You don’t want to appear crazy enough to actually make a bee-line for a specific spot.
You know who is, though? My workout enemy number 1: Racer Back. And she is coming for my corner.
Racer Back spends 80% of her paycheck on gym clothes and has a hard time understanding the same etiquette that the high school cafeteria model relies on — aka, your spot is your spot until graduation unless an approved mandate states otherwise. She is either oblivious, or rude, I can’t tell. But because it’s before I’ve had my coffee and my sports bra is pinching me, Racer Back just stole my spot and therefore she is the devil.
Workout enemy number 2 is The Instructor. I’m her teacher’s pet for about the first 15 minutes — “Look how high my knees go!” I demonstrate. “Look at my form! My stance! And my sweat!” But the second she calls me out, the moment she corrects me, my Favorite Instructor becomes dead to me.
The next to go is her assistant. The assistant always has something to prove (namely, I suppose, that she is good at her job) but I watch her watching me every morning like a hawk eyeing a falcon, and the second she breaks to walk in my direction, I go red. Then, when she pinches the fat between my shoulders on my back to “improve” my posture and “protect” my lower back, it takes every bit of strength in my stupid isometrically-pumping arms to not throw back my elbow at her nose. Toning move!
Workout enemies aren’t limited to classes that penalize you for being 2 minutes late, however. If you run, there’s always a girl trying to race you. Easy there, New York Marathon. This thing I’m doing is called a jog. If you ellipt, there’s always some guy on your machine watching a full season of Game of Thrones. Or GIRLS. If you lift weights, Jen Selter is hogging them, and if you cycle, then god bless.
These days I enter my workouts like a warrior: abs in, fists up and mouth guard locked on. My instructor says the mouth guard is unnecessary considering the nature of the class — barre — but I’m a product of Darwinism and the Boy Scouts of America and if you’re not prepared, you’ll die. Like Muhammad Ali said: float like a butterfly, sting like a bee, and pray for the woman who tries to steal my spot at the bar.
Rant over. Your turn!
Image Courtesy of Vogue.com, shot by Arthur Elgort, 2003