I was browsing my Yelp reviews for my favorite workout, Dance Dance Party Party, when I read this review:
At 6:50 two overweight, older, tattooed ladies arrived and began to set up the studio and posted signs on the building telling people where to go. I’ll be blunt. I thought if these were the instructors this class was going to suck. I wasn’t just coming to dance around. I was coming for a workout.
Then, huge sigh of relief as the young, graceful instructor Catherine arrived. I am a dancer but the free-form format felt awkward at first and I took awhile to warm up to it. Some of my classmates were experienced dancers and others not so much, but everyone loved to dance. I got over all the initial weirdness and really got into it after the first couple of songs. Catherine played great music. A mix of rock, pop and hip hop. Really great remixes. I enjoyed it and it was a great workout. I will totally come again.
See, I was one of those “older, overweight, tattooed” girls helping to set up (and btw. I’m only 24). I have no affiliation with DDPP at all. I just occasionally get there early enough to score rock star parking, so I volunteer to help set up lights and speakers. And if you are familiar with the DDPP set up, there are NO instructors. There’s just Den Mothers- lovely ladies who collect the money, clean up, and monitor the room for judgey-pants and talkers. They dont teach, lead, or even scream motivational mumbo-jumbo at you. That’s the best part of DDPP. It’s all you, and having these thoughts can ruin an experience.
While I’m glad that this girl was “relieved” when a smaller girl walked in and led the class, I cant help but feel like she missed the entire point. This review, while overall positive and earning a perfect star report, shows just what is wrong with some gym goers these days- judging the class by the classmates or instructor.
My first spin class was horrible. There were 6 people there, all who were beyond experienced. The instructor talked of bandit-ing the Chicago marathon while the other girls chatted like it was nothing to do hill sprints. I spun in a corner- residing myself that I would never be one of those girls and lamenting about how out of place I must look. I’m almost twice the size of the girl next to me and I’m falling behind…
I came back the next week. And the week after that. AND the week after that. Now, I’m a regular. Apparently, the instructor worries when I skip a session. A year later and I’m going faster and farther than most of the girls. Oh, and I can sit there and gracefully chat like it’s nothing. I still worry what I look like compared to the rest of the class when I’m in position 3 and my big ass is facing a window…
I’ve also been on the other side of the spectrum. I’ve judged the instructor. My first yoga class 4 years ago was with a woman about 40 pounds heavier than what you imagine a yoga instructor to look like.
But DEAR GOD she worked my ungraceful body in to a firey sweat. And to be honest, I haven’t yet met a teacher as good as she was.
We spend so much body shaming others and judging abilities based on appearances that it can truly take away from our experience. It doesn’t matter if you are there to lose 10lbs, 100, or maintain… we are all there getting healthy. I find it admirable and inspirational to see a bigger person sweating up a storm on the treadmill or lifting weights- just as I find the skinny girl jogging past me as something to aspire and push to.
The same goes for the self negative thoughts. I often revert back to the “biggest girl in the room” mentality when joining new classes or lining up for a race. I dont know if that part of me will ever disappear as it’s always been there. I’ve learned to get past it only because I find it to be a hindrance when I’m trying to learn new things.
So, to the reviewer: Yes, I may not be at the perfect size, but I’ve come prepared to dance. I’m going to put a smile on my face, leggings on, and some whacked out tshirt. And while you are standing there judging the book by its cover, I’m going to be writing my own, more awesome page.