Friday, June 03, 2011
Drop and give me 20, maggots
You guys, I've never walked out of an exercise class before.
Wait. That's not true.
I've walked out, but it's been because I had a headache or because I was hungry and had left my emergency peanut butter stuffed pretzels in the car or because I didn't want to do shoulders because that's about the only part of my body that looks good naturally so why bother to work if I don't have to although having good shoulders not very useful in a cold climate where even now, at the beginning of June, I am wearing a sweatshirt and SH and I debated long and hard last night about whether we should put the space heater in our bedroom away for the season. We did. Put it away, I mean. But it's just at the top of the stairs where we can get it again if we need it.
But I have nice shoulders if I do say so myself, not that anyone ever gets to see them, but a Milwaukee Roll - that's year round, baby. It's always there and hard to hide.
I've never walked out of an exercise class after the first five minutes because I knew the instructor was going to drive me crazy and even the prospect of getting really good material wasn't enough to keep me there. But that's what I did yesterday.
My friend Michelle warned me about this instructor. Dolores is the Thursday yoga teacher at the Y. I had never had her class before. "Don't do it!" Michelle said. "She yells at you if you don't take off your socks."
I went to the class anyway.
1. I didn't believe Michelle. Yelling at someone for not taking off socks? I keep my socks on during yoga because
a. my feet get cold and
b. it's just a little gross to have bare feet on a mat that someone else has had bare feet on. Yes, I know this reaction is completely inconsistent with my usual lack of squeamishness - I have peed in public restrooms at bus stations all over South America and Turkey and honey, once you've squatted over a hole in the ground and kept your balance even though you still had your big backpack on and while the old Aymara woman and the little Aymara girl watched you in the reeking bathroom at the La Paz bus station - because of course there were no walls around the holes, just holes - nothing ever bugs you again. And also, why am I OK with putting my hands on the yoga mat where the bare feet of others have trod but not my feet? I don't know why. It's inconsistent. I admit that. Plus I don't want to be bossed around about my socks.
2. SH was going to be leaving town with the car before lunch yesterday morning and will be gone until Sunday, so yesterday was my only chance to go to the gym until Monday.
I got to the Y and walked into the class, which Dolores appeared to have started early. The students were on their backs with their legs against the mirrors.
"Push, push, push!" Dolores was urging. "PUSH!"
She had a slight Spanish accent, so it was really more "Poosh, poosh, poosh!" But from here on out, you have to imagine her accent in your head because I am not good at transcribing accents.
I got a mat and found a space against the wall. By now, Dolores had everyone standing, preparing for the next move. But before she showed us what to do, she gave us the sock warning. "You cannot do yoga with the socks! You must take off the socks to do yoga unless you have yoga socks!"
I looked at her, looked at my feet, thought about Michelle, thought about other bare feet on the mat and thought, No, I don't think I am going to mind her on this one.
Then she went to a mat and demonstrated the next move, which involved bending from the waist, which we all know can be very complicated, and putting the arms on a chair. (Yes, everyone was supposed to be armed with a chair as well as a mat.) She explained that it was very important to have the back straight, not arched, and if we get a back injury, we cannot blame yoga because it was really because we had not listened to the teacher.
"It is not the fault of yoga!" she scolded. "You must to listen to the teacher! If you do not do it right, you cannot blame yoga!"
We all tried the pose.
"No, no, NO!" she chastised. "You were not watching when I show you? When I was yoga student and the teacher show us something, I did not stand in the back to see. I come close! I come to see! You are not doing the back right! I try to tell you but you are not doing it right!"
My mind flashed back to the swing dance lessons I took in Memphis. As we were practicing our steps, the teacher would stop the class, lift the needle off the record, look at the ceiling and say, "SOMEone is not rocking back on the two count."
The other students and I would look at each other, wondering, "Is it I? Is it I who is not rocking back on the two count?" And then we would wonder, "Why doesn't she just go to the person who's not doing it right and tell him directly?"
Dolores is of the "I will scold you anonymously because I don't have the guts or the interest to correct you individually," even though none of us could see what we were doing because we had our butts against the mirrors and our heads down. Do you know if your back is arched when you are doing a weird yoga pose? I don't. If I'm doing it wrong and am going to injure myself, I would appreciate it if the instructor would tap me on one of my awesome but usually covered shoulders and tell me so.
As she continued to scold the class, I thought, "You know I don't think this is for me." The other yoga instructors are annoying because they never shut up, talking about the third eye and the heart space, but at least they are positive and soothing and never scold the class.
Mind you that the exercise class I took in Memphis was run by a man who had been a drill instruction in the Marines. He was not soothing at all. He yelled. He pushed. But he yelled and pushed to encourage, not to berate. He didn't warn us that if we got injured, it would be our own stupid fault for not listening to him. He yelled that we could do one more pushup. He yelled at me to correct my form but told me exactly what I was doing wrong. He didn't insult us. I have a pretty high threshold for exercise teacher obnoxiousness, but I don't want an hour of shrill scolding.
I caught the eye of another student and rolled my eyes at her. She rolled hers back. I put on my shoes, took the chair back to the chair place, and walked out, my heart thudding in my chest because I was WALKING OUT and what if the teacher yelled at me? But she must have been used to it, because she ignored me.
As I passed the front desk, I saw a friend who works at the Y. I stopped to tell her that man, that Dolores is rude! My friend asked, "Would you like a comment card?" Another front desk person rushed over and said, "Yes! Really! Here's a comment card."
As I filled it out, noting that Dolores had preferred to scold the class rather than offer individual correction, my friend and I chatted.
My friend leaned across the desk and whispered confidentially. "You know, we were just talking today about how Dolores is so rude!"
See? It's not just me.