I’m one of those regular gym goer types of people. I strive to get there about 5 times a week and some weeks I’m much more successful than others. For the most part, I’m pretty committed and have been going to the gym for oh, over 25 years now in one form or another. What I do there has obviously evolved over the years but that’s 25+ years of yoga, gymnastics plus weight lifting and a wee little bit of running as the mainstays of what I spend my time doing. The gym I go to right now is a large and very public gym. All kinds of people ranging from small kids to seniors in all shapes and sizes go. I’m probably closer to a Zena Warrior princess type of size and shape and I’m probably a little bit intimidating to some when I’m hanging upside down in some bizarre yoga pose that appears to defy the laws of gravity.
Since there is no dedicated yoga space in this gym, the area where I go and hang upside down is a very public area. It’s what the gym calls their “studio” which is essentially a room that seems to be missing most of it’s walls. There is one wall of mirrors and a laminate type of floor and that’s it. This room is right in the middle of a running track, in full view of the spin (cycle) room and surrounded by various cardio machines. It is the one and only place in the entire gym (2 floors!!) where a person can exercise on a mat on the floor and do whatever types of exercises they want.
It can get busy in that little space and the lack of privacy can be a little weird when you’re trying to do yoga. I do my best to avoid going there at “peak” times because I’m a quiet type of soul that likes to be left alone when I’m at the gym to the point that I’m probably a little grumpy when people get too close to me. That’s my quiet time, not my socializing time.
But a couple of weeks ago, the way my work schedule was, I ended up having to go to the gym late in the afternoon. How bad could it be? Mind you I hadn’t actually gone to the gym at that time before so boy, that was a shock. The place was full of teenagers. It was the after school time when all the kids flock there for a little recreation and fun and games and hanging out with each other. I like teenagers, really I do. I just don’t particularly like them at the gym the same time I am because it’s not really conducive to a quiet or peaceful workout.
Regardless, I take my little yoga mat and roll it out in front of one of the mirrors at the far end of the studio and proceed to do my yoga. It doesn’t take long for most of the teenagers to quietly slink off. You know, now that an adult had infiltrated their hang out space, it wasn’t as much fun. There were three teenage girls left behind that each had a mat and were going through some various exercises.
I settle into some yoga and not five minutes in I hear / see out of the corner of my eye someone RIGHT behind me, looking over my shoulder to do whatever exercises they are doing. I am so irritated and I’m thinking, what the hell???? The rest of the studio is wide open except for these three teenage girls, why on earth is someone right behind me like that.
I manage to look up and staring anxiously at me is a young teenage girl. She looked like she was about 12 or maybe 13 but I’m guessing that she might have been a little bit older and just hadn’t caught up physically yet. At the same time, I happen to notice the three teenage girls beside us and they are tall, thin and gorgeous in the way only teenage girls seem to be. They’re also rolling their eyes at this young girl behind me – who happens to be a little overweight and maybe a little awkward still.
It dawns on me at that point that this young girl set herself up right behind me as protection against the other teenagers, figuring no one would actually say anything to her if she was that close to me or give her a hard time. (see, Zena Warrior Princess!)
I smiled at her and she immediately relaxed, smiled a huge smile and proceeded to go through a series of exercises, despite the eye rolls and “looks” she was getting from the other girls. In that short span of time, her and I became a “team”, co-conspirators against the beauty queens.
She stayed there the entire time I was there and worked out the entire time. I also noticed that she would try whatever exercises the other girls were doing (probably drove them crazy) as well as various other things she had learned on her own. She had a great time. I had to give her a lot of credit for going, for working out and for figuring out a way to keep herself safe from any ridicule or harassment from the girls nearby. I have to say, I wasn’t so irritated anymore and was kind of glad I could help.