Viveca Jenson's Piloxing class (mixture of Pilates and boxing)
Ever noticed how, in photos of people engaged in fitness activities, there are never any fat people? I'm not talking about candid shots, but any sort of marketing or publicity photo. I get regular newsletters from LiveStrong, C25K, various magazines, and all sorts of other fitness organizations, all with lots of colorful pics of people engaged in all sorts of healthful activities, and there is never even one person who is even slightly overweight, unless it's in some sort of rude way, meant to show a lazy slob or a before/after pic. Or if it's a Richard Simmons product, 'cause Richard is not afraid of having the big people in his videos. Yaay, Richard. In fact, most of the people in the pics, especially the women, are oddly matchy-matchy in size and body type. And they usually have a lot of makeup on, and their hair looks bizarrely good for people who are supposedly engaged in sweat-inducing activities. I don't know about you, but when I'm working out, the last thing I want is makeup dripping in my eyes. My hair is in a ponytail and tucked under a bandana, which is not at all attractive but keeps hair and sweat out of my face.
I get why marketers want to do this. They want to present the most attractive people possible in order to 1) make you think this is a hot place/product filled with shiny beautiful people; 2) make you feel bad if you don't look like that, so you'll buy whatever they're selling in order to get yourself looking like that; 3) make you think that you are going to be one of that good-looking, well-groomed club if you buy what they're selling. I mean, if you're really using a gym the way it's supposed to be used, you are going to be disgusting, stinky, and dishevelled, at least til you hit the locker room. But reality don't sell memberships. So, shiny people.
Ironically, feeling out of place, or worrying about what they might look like, or how they'll keep up, actually keeps a lot of people from joining a gym or doing a physical activity. It's a fallacy, by the way. Sure, there are jerks out there, but this isn't your high school gym class anymore. Most athletes are really happy to have anybody join their club, and they admire effort as well as results. They will cheer you on.
Nevertheless, I often experience fish-out-of-water moments at the gym. Last night's new stretching class was a perfect example --- everybody else in there was slender, graceful, lookin' hot in their cute exercise togs, and all seemed to have dance training to match their dancer bodies. I don't begrudge them any of this, BTW. But then there was me, wearing a stained Livestrong T shirt, bike shorts, and a bandana. I did not feel sexy. I felt like a beached elephant seal as we rolled around on the floor. I immediately nicknamed it Stripper Stretching. It didn't help that we did it in the dark, accompanied by sexy music, in the pole dancing studio. There was a lot of writhing around. If there had been men there, those ladies would have walked out with a lot of cash tucked in their spandex. And they would have deserved it, because they are marvelously athletic with beautiful, toned bodies, and boy are they bendy.
If I tried to protect my ego by never doing anything where people might look at me crossways (not that anybody did; no one at this gym has been anything but friendly and supportive), I'd never do anything at all. I made a decision a long, long time ago, way before I seriously set out to transform my body and fitness level, that I was not going to let being fat stand in my way of doing anything I really wanted to do --- assuming it was safe, affordable, and legal --- and that included dressing nicely. So when I go to the gym, sometimes I feel embarrassed because hell --- *I* don't want to look at myself in cute spandex workout outfits; my workout clothing mantra is "comfortable, cheap, supportive, covers the fat rolls". Or because I can't shake my entire body the way some of those girls in Zumba class do, at least without throwing my hips out of whack or just looking like I'm having a seizure; or because I'm still really crappy at planks and sure as hell can't do them with my feet through the TRX handles, at an incline (but I can do pike pushups on the floor, and that's by God what I do when everybody else is doing'em with the TRXs).
This philosophy extends to other areas of life, too. The very high probability that I will look like an idiot doing something is not a good enough reason to keep me from trying it, if it interests me. The very high probability that I will fail, or not be very good at it, at least at first, is a damned lousy reason not to try something. Because the fact is, morons with low self esteem and big mouths aside, the majority of the people you encounter in any given situation are too worried about how inadequate they may appear to give a second thought to you.
There was a lady in Zumba class today wearing a great t-shirt that read STRONG IS THE NEW SKINNY. I found that inspiring (as did a lot of other women in the class, who clustered around to admire it). This shouldn't be taken as a dig against skinny people; but skinny isn't attainable for everyone, and all things being equal, strong is, if you're willing to work for it. So I approve that message.
The point is, don't let anybody hold you back from your goals. The most important thing is not whether you fit in, whether you look good doing it, whether it takes you five times or five thousand to get it right. The important thing is that you are out there doing it, because you want to, or because you want what it will bring you more than you want to indulge whatever is in your way.
Go out there and get your share.