WARNING: This is gonna be a rant as well as an update. If you don’t like the rant, skip down a little.
I strongly dislike the general prejudgement that occurs with fat people. Particularly me. The expectations of what fat people CAN do or are WILLING to do is generally set low. If children rise or settle to the expectations set before them, what will fat people do, when others expect little from them or of their capabilities. We already face life doubting our physical capabilities, we don’t need others saying out loud or insinuating that our beliefs are right, because they are not! We, fat people, and really anyone, can do and achieve far more than we ever thought possible if we first try and 2nd don’t give up. I, for one, can do far more already than I ever thought possible and I am STILL over 300 lbs.
Here is the experience tonight that precipitated this rant!
I went to my new gym tonight for a spin class. At my old gym (DDH) I knew what to expect. Full spin classes all the time, so get there early and sign me and my friends in right away. I got there early and stopped at the front desk.
“I would like to do the 8 PM spin class tonight. Is there a sign up involved or how does it work?”
Twiggy girl at the front desk(whom I could blow over if I breathed heavy) gives me a surprised and hesitant look and then says , ” Oh, well have you ever spun before? Because it can be pretty intense.”
Me: Yes I have spun before, I just moved from Grand Rapids and have been spinning at DDH for a few months now.
Twiggy: Oh ok (still looking unsure of my abilities) well tonight’s instructor is Ann and she is somewhat of a legend around here for being really really intense. The 8 PM class never fills up so if your SURE you still want to do it, just go down to the room at 8.
Ok, so at this point my head conversation was NOT NICE. I was calling her some not so nice names that start with a B at this point at her judgement of me based on my size! (Yes, I am censoring my language at this point. But you know what I was thinking!)
So I head off, and run sprints for about 40 minutes before class. Fortunately there was no bad experience here, except I caught one girl staring at me running. Oh well, after my initial experience, I am prone to assume the worst about her staring, but I am gonna let it slide. After all, I used to work in this town and she may have just been recognizing me, but not sure.
At 7:50 I headed over to the spin room to get set up on my bike before class started. I met one guy in the hallway who had not spun before, but looked fit enough.
I get my bike, set it up, adjust the height and seat/handlebar positions and get comfortable.
Ann comes in, gets set up, gets the class started then comes over to me to “set me up”.
Ann: So how does your seat height feel.
Me: Good, I have a slight bend in my knee, I am good.
Ann: Good, how about the position of your seat/handlebars?
Me: That is good, when my feet are at 9 and 3 my knee is right above my foot and in line with the pedal, etc. GRIN
Ann looks at me kind of surprised but proceeds to tell me how to use the resistance dial. I nod vigorously, because of course I already know…she didn’t get the clue and proceeds on.
Ann: ok, if at anytime you feel the resistance is too high, you can back it off and go at your own pace. Don’t feel like you need to keep up and if you decide the class is too much it is ok to leave early.
Kim: very big smile….(but I am pissed! How dare she assume I cannot spin or that I would want to quit! How dare she give me an out.?!?!? An excuse to not finish what I start!) Thank you! But I won’t be quitting!
ok, Adam has already told me I could have made it easier on her by telling her I spin already. But I was already irritated by the earlier experience with Twiggy. But really I am more ticked off about the general prejudgement of overweight people. She has no idea of where I have been or what I am up to. She has no idea and she assumed that I might want to quit! Fat people just starting out with any kind of exercise don’t need fit people insinuating that we can’t handle something because of our size! We(I) am stronger than you might think, jsut cuz you can’t see my muscles doesn’t mean they are not there! We don’t need anyone insinuating that we can take the easy road, because it might get hard. We (I) have taken the easy road for far too long! The easy road is not all it is made out to be. We don’t need anyone giving us a free pass or an out, we give ourselves that card far too often. And we certainly don’t need anyone telling us it is OK to not finish what we start! Is it ok for a trained athlete to not finish because it gets hard? I think not! If every distance runner, triathlete, olympian, or biker quit when it got difficult, we wouldn’t have any of these great athlete’s to look to for examples of dedication, commitment, and courage.
In general, I may not have been so irritated by this had I not had a completely different experience at DDH. My first spin class, I was INVITED in by Jeff, an amazing instructor, who never showed any doubts about my ability to not only start but FINISH his class. He believed I could do it and encouraged me to try it despite my fears. Sure he told me to feel free to not stay at the same pace as the rest of the class, but he had already ASKED me if I had spun before and KNEW based on conversation that I had not and that I was afraid. Instead of giving me an option to quit, he gave me an option to take a break if I needed it, but to try and keep my legs spinning as much as possible and to come right back in as soon as I was ready. He set me up for success with the idea that I CAN DO THIS, instead of planting the idea that it would be ok to quit. I am grateful for this experience. Even more so now than ever. At that time, I knew I had to finish it, but I didn’t have to do it again. But because I finished and because I have others who believe I can, I now spin all the time!
Ann did not have a conversation with me. She assumed things about me because of my size and that I had never been to HER class before then based her dialogue with me on that. That is what bugs me.
By the way….this legend I heard about. I don’t get it. The class was an hour long (longer than anything I took at DDH) It did not come CLOSE to comparing to Jeff or Emily’s classes at DDH. Will one of you please come show them how to spin here in Detroit?
Lesson to all you skinnies….DON’T tell me I can’t do something because of my size. I might be fat(for now) but I am not incapable. I might do things slower, but I will do them. I might not have perfect form, but I will get there, but only by continuing to work at it. I MIGHT even be at greater risk of injury by attempting some of the things I am doing, but if you are gonna speak to me on that level, you better either be in my inner circle or have some serious people skills so that your concern doesn’t fall on deaf ears, cuz if I sniff a hint of judgement, you will be like a clanging gong in my ears and I just might set out to prove you wrong.
OK, this is long enough. I am tired. You will have to get an update on everything else tomorrow!