It doesn’t have to suck, people
On Tuesday, I tried out a new-to-me yoga studio in the Flatiron Distrcit of Manhattan. The place I’d been practicing, Laughing Lotus, was great. But my month-long card expired there, and I got a deal on a month of unlimited classes at this new joint, so I switched.
The minute I walked in, I wasn’t sure I liked the vibe of the place. It felt kind of corporate. Everyone was speaking in hushed tones. And a quick glance at the ladies clustered in the corner and sipping tea as they waited for the 7:15 vinyasa class gave me pause; they were near-carbon copies of each other, right down to their lean torsos, bored expressions, white tank tops and black Lululemon pants. I seriously thought there might have been a dress-code notice I’d missed. I only relaxed a little bit when some equally toned and joyless-looking individuals showed up. At least their shirts were different colors.
I know you’re supposed to leave all of your preconceived notions outside the door, but dude, these chicks freaked me out a little. As the class progressed, it became clear that many of them had quite lovely yoga practices. They could bend themselves into pretty little pretzels, seemingly with ease. But no one seemed excited about it.
The teacher was very good. The poses were challenging. I don’t know what was up; I don’t pretend to know what everyone else in the class was thinking or feeling, but it just didn’t seem like my classmates were having any kind of fun whatsoever. The only moment of levity I witnessed took place when I completely fell out of a side plank after grabbing my right big toe with my right hand and trying to extend both toward the ceiling. I landed on my mat and lamely said, “Well, that went well.” The chick to my left smiled.
It was a lot like the gym I worked out at in graduate school, a gorgeous facility populated by incredibly thin, incredibly fit women (and men). The women especially worked out with an intensity that was a little scary. I took a class at that gym a few weeks ago; the women were still thin, their faces still dead-set on wringing every last calorie out of their movements.
I much prefer the feel of places like Laughing Lotus, Feminine Fitness, and the New York Sports Club I teach at in Butler. There, you find people of all different body types and sizes who are trying to make something positive happen in their lives. They have varying degrees of success, but they show up and they try, and they usually have a good time.
I witnessed the same thing yesterday, when I volunteered at the New York City Marathon expo. My job was to greet people at the entrance and point them in the right direction. I talked with new runners and old runners, thin runners and fat runners, tall runners and short runners and in-between runners. Without fail, they were excited to be there and to be part of something so huge. I wished them a good run on Sunday, and they thanked me with huge grins — even the people who said they were freaked beyond belief.
I’ll keep going back to the new yoga place, at least for the month. I’ll let you know how it goes.
I’m not asking for much, but don’t you think there’s something to be said for enthusiasm?
After all, is there anyone who WON’T be pulling for Chilean miner Edison Pena at this Sunday’s marathon?