Sometimes you start becoming a little too comfortable so you need to do something outside of your comfort zone. This is more of a situation of becoming a little too uncomfortable and needing to do something outside my comfort zone. For reasons that I can only attribute to old age and inactivity, my body has become a wasteland of pain, stiff muscles, and creaking sounds that WD40 could not fix. I don’t think John Mayer will be writing a song about me anytime soon. My legs have become particularly troublesome, where just getting up can be a challenge and lifting weights is more of an exercise in cardio as my heart races in fear that I will tear my calf again like I did in September. While my legs are the most debilitating, my neck has about as much movement as a tree frog’s, and stretching my arms above my head is something only accomplished in the shower after standing in it for 20 scalding hot minutes to loosen my muscles first. Yesterday I finally reached my breaking point.
Instead of chopping off my legs I decided to do something more drastic: I signed up for Bikram Yoga. This in case you are not familiar is where you do a couple dozen postures over 90 minutes while sweating your balls off. Thankfully my giblets are still attached, although if they weren’t I likely would have had more success performing the tasks asked of me. I almost fell over 5 or 6 times, realized that I struggle determining my right from my left more than a 30 year old should, and that the last time I could touch my feet was during the (now defunct) Presidential Physical Fitness Test. But I made it through. And it wasn’t even that weird.
The hardest thing I had to get over mentally was the first 30 minutes. First, put away my phone? I can’t remember the last time that I was awake for almost 2 hours without access, what am I going to do if I face plant into the yoga mat and I can’t tweet a self-depreciating joke about it? What if someone needs to text me a picture of their dinner because it wasn’t getting enough comments on Instagram? What if another update comes out about Tom Brady’s inflation issues when the season is only 4 months away?! But I soldiered through it. I ditched the phone, my shoes, and my false sense of urgency. While this wasn’t one of those crunchy hippy yoga classes, and mediation was not the purpose, it was beneficial to take myself out of my normal element and be one with my sweaty self in a room full of strangers.
The other things I needed to accept other than going off the grid was the heat (no problem), the smell (you get used to it), and the other people. Being new you get to hide in the back corner and watch everyone else. You’re supposed to watch them to figure out what should be doing physically, but it was also interesting to see the different types of people: the overachiever who is there every day directly in front of the instructor, the slightly overweight women trying to get into shape, the middle aged couple trying to do something new, another guy around thirty who gave up on the gym too many times, and the friend who got dragged there by her friend and is shooting eye darts every time her head isn’t tucked uncomfortably toward her stomach. It was fun to people watch. Well at least until my legs were shaking uncontrollably, physically screaming at me to drop some of the extra weight I’ve been carrying on my average frame. Not fitting into my work pants was a sign. Putting 205 pounds on one half crouching leg is an oversized Neon Billboard.
My Future-Doctor-Wife (forever to be known as FDW) asked me before going if she should be alarmed that I was going to be hanging out with a bunch of sweaty girls stretching in spandex. I honestly hadn’t thought about it because I assumed young, fit people hung out at the gym and instead I was going to be hanging out with a bunch of old hippies. Apparently neither of us was quite right. There was only one earthy old lady there, and while the women out numbered the men 4:1 there was nothing sexy about the whole thing. Everything moves so quickly the only reason you are checking out anyone is to see what arm is grabbing what leg and how low you are supposed to crouch, and now what the hell are they doing with their legs? Even the few people in the room that had nice bodies were reminders that we care too about what people look like. You can have the best body and you still look as unappealing as the sweaty, smelly mess next to you. Also, there are fucking bare feet everywhere. Scratch the smartphone stuff, being in a room with 20 pairs of feet is the most horrific and desexualizing experience I could have.
I lived through it the best that I could and I will probably be going back. My body needs it and maybe my mind too. Also, I’m a sucker and I signed up for the first month so now I have to go to justify the cost. If I can start getting off the couch without sounding like a grumbling old man then it will have all been worth it. If I stick with it I can hopefully get back some flexibility, some strength in my calf that hasn’t fully recovered, and a new found ability to swing my arms back and forth above my head just in case my new career takes place at a used car dealership (in inflatable form). Hopefully it will also convince me that when something is making me really uncomfortable, it’s okay to change it up. Even if I have to endure some minor hardships along the way. Like feet. Gross.