Letter to My (Ex-) Exercise Instructor

When I first heard about your class, I was ecstatic. I’d missed exercise classes since moving away from college, and having one in this place in the middle of nowhere was surprising and welcome. And the fact that it was Zumba, which had a philosophy of fun+exercise rather than torture+ exercise was most excellent. I’d enjoyed my previous experience with Zumba, so I was happy.

And the classes were good. Okay, it was Zumba with weights, but I’ve never been afraid of weights. And for a really long time, everything was good. I noticed an increase in lean muscles and endurance. Plus, it got all those feel-good endorphins going. All good.

So, I ignored the “Biggest Loser” that cropped up every January, because other people liked it, although I would never do such a thing. I’m fine with other people getting things I don’t out of something. It’s all good. And I put up with the videotaping, even though it increases my anxiety, because there didn’t seem to be a way to opt out. And the photographs, same deal. And the other time I left early, because you wanted to go into the room with the mirrors so we could watch ourselves as we worked out–well, you never did that again.

I suppose, if someone has never been truly fat or truly out of shape, it’s hard to understand why that sort of thing makes the fat and the out of shape uncomfortable. For you, your body is a marvel that allows you to do wonderful things. I appreciate my body, all the things it does, but I don’t like how most of it moves. I don’t like realizing how awkward I actually look when I move. And I don’t like the voice of criticism that points out all of my flaws from every angle with visual aids. I persevered, however, because of the benefits I got.

But tonight was the last night I’ll be attending your class. It started well, with dancing. But you said something about challenging yourself which rang alarm bells. As well it should have. Because I spent the rest of class–before I left in disgust–watching other people exercise. Sure, I modified, but when you can’t even do the modifications, then what’s the point? I know I’m out of shape–thus the exercise class. But if I wanted to watch incredibly fit people do things that I could never do, I’d watch some sports.

And doing the same exercise over and over again until a song is over and then switching to another impossible exercise for the next whole song isn’t fun. It’s torture. It’s why people hate exercising. What was wrong with the routines, the ones with different exercises throughout? The ones I could actually do and enjoyed (for a certain value of enjoyment)? Why do I have to miss out on my exercise class, the one I adored? If you want to challenge yourself, do it on one of the five days you aren’t teaching the class. Post it on Facebook and we’ll all ooh and ah. Have an advanced class where the fit people can become fitter. But don’t advertise your class as one thing and have it suddenly be something else entirely.

Because after all these years and all these classes, I’m done.

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