East Meets West: Don’t Sweat It; Actually, Sweat it A Lot

Gym class instilled a love/hate relationship in me; playing with the parachute, dodgeball, LOVE. Soccer aka CONSTANT RUNNING, and volleyball- to the left. And sure that whole getting picked last and being teased for feeling like Sloth from the Goonies, not Tinkerbell trickles in there too *shrug*.

Woman’s only sections were a safe haven for me when I embarked on my health and fitness journey. The Male gaze whilst doing something that I was already WILDLY uncomfortable doing, I did not need. And, as fate would have it, women’s fitness became a way of making paper. I transitioned quickly from working out at Curves, the “Complete 30 min workout” gym much beloved by the retired woman contingent, into a person who supported and motivated women to reach their goals while concurrently obtaining mine. You get what you give eh?

It wasn’t the last gym that I’d work out and at, not by a long shot. Sin Jawn’s was the inaugural Good Life Fitness club with whom I was gainfully employed. In the span of 24 months, I worked at six locations in three provinces. Sure the sales aspect of the job and wildly obtuse co-workers eroded parts of my soul, but my cardio was grand! I was inspired to keep pushing myself- I had a built-in community to inspire me or chide me, depending on how lazy I was. And more than one occasion I got mistaken for a personal trainer that made me stand a bit taller.

We all know my penchant for yoga, which, incidentally I got taller from. And yes, we know I’ve insisted that it’s been for my mind more than anything else, but it leveled the shattered foundation of skewed perceptions of self so I could begin to build a healthy, loving and respectful relationship with exercise and my abilities. I love me good, gentle, deliberate Yin class to get into the micro fascia, but the fire is beginning to not only creep in, but I’m seeking it out- I’ll take that extra flow sequence, I’ll push to try and achieve, and fail, to seek equilibrium in a balance pose.  And I’ve stopped caring about what other people think. Sure, I’m not tickled by my shirt riding up or my pants dipping low to reveal some whale tail, but I’m not hiding anymore. If I want to practice in the sunshine, heck yah I’ll unfurl my mat and rock a complete yoga class podcast from Spotify. Well, that’s new!

Last week, with a wonderful dynamo uber fit pal Kelsie, at my side, I took to my first spin class in years. In the past, they sucked, hard. Cardio that made me feel like I’m lungs would pop at and left with a sore booty. Furthermore, I was PAYING for this fuckery. Oh Yah, big fun. The class was in the model of Soul Cycle; high decibel beats pulsating (earplugs included) and instructor-cued colour lights to make it more fun. Too late to back out, now; I adjusted my seat, clicked my special spinning shoes in and GAVE’R. To quote Mrs. Doubtfire, I was “sweating like a sno-cone in Phoenix”.

I can’t say that I was impressed when instructor Marco told us to all “reach back and grab your weights”. Exsqueeze me? Bacon powder? I hammered through and yah, I took some micro breaks as those 2lbs pulses were doing me in, but, gall darnit, I kept pushing. The kicker? I had fun! There was no threat of rupturing lungs! Same time next week, yes, please! What makes it even better? Two other friends are going to join Kelsie and I. What really made me shine bright like a diamond? Kelsie shared with a mutual pal that upon completing the class, huffing and puffing, she turned to me to be greeted by “that patented Stina face saying how great that class was. There were times I was crapping out and I’d look over and Stina was just peddling away. She’s one of the most athletic people I’ve worked out with”. Better put on your shades, cuz I’m beaming over here!

Initially, shame and judgment facilitated me having to have a daily sweat. Now, however, it’s the renewal and clarity moving provides me that keeps me reaching for my pumped up kicks. Sure, endorphins are most certainly in the mix, but feeling proud of me, setting goals and challenges and surpassing them that really rev my motor. I’m trusting that the change will happen, is happening. That the more I love and respect myself, the more I celebrate the abundance of capabilities (tenacity, stamina, courage, etc) that sneakily the celebration of my body WITHOUT trying to coherence it into a smaller pair of jeans will come into play. Besides, I’m a sucker for disco and those tasty 90s jams, and you know that’s what I’m pumping to get my heart rate up. Sounds like a win-win to me.