Many, many well-intentioned people I know urge me to take exercise classes. “Jjiraffe, take a Spin Class!” they’ll proclaim. “You’ll burn a lot of calories!” Or “Tae Kwon Do will make you feel your strength as a WOMAN, Jjiraffe!” someone will rave. Or, “Yoga will change your life, Jjiraffe. For real.” Or I’ll read a post like this, about the amazing power of emotional clarity that the right workout can provide. Aaaand, I’ll be tempted. REAL tempted.
Then I remember that I’m me. And every exercise class I have ever taken has ended in dramatic, flameout, Borat-style dysfunctional disaster. (Remember when he destroyed that antique store?) People still dine out, years later, on just ONE tale of my three attempts to exercise in a group setting with others. You may think I’m being dramatic. I’m building this up too much. There was that time you tripped during your Flash mob routine of Cee-lo’s “Forget You.” That was embarrassing, right?
Not even. Here’s a taster of humiliation.
The year: 1997. The setting: Spin Class, Gorilla Sports, San Francisco
The characters: My friend from work, Lisa, and myself. And 50 Spin Class (mostly male) fanatics.
Lisa was my first friend to talk me into an exercise class. (But unfortunately not the last.) I preferred running or working on a treadmill (for no particular reason other than a TOTALLY PSYCHIC Premonition subconsciously keeping me AWAY, the FUCK away from classes) but her description of burning more than 600 calories in a session was really tempting. I asked her if I needed any special skills. “Have you ever ridden a bike?” she asked. Well, duh. Of course I had. I mean, not really since I was in junior high with a three-speed Schwinn, but whatever! Once you’ve ridden a bike, you’ll always know how to ride a bike?
We were a little late to the class so the only two bikes open were in the front of the whole group. I wasn’t keen on a bunch of guys staring at my ass, but I had no choice but to trot up there and awkwardly straddle the bulky stationary bike as everyone watched. My initial hesitation turned into outright panic when the Teutonic instructor barked out “Has anyone not taken this class before?” and no one raised their hand. I wasn’t going to single myself out and encourage even more attention to all those behind my hindquarters. Well, that Schwinn was not too hard to maneuver, right? RIGHT?!
Cue the intensely loud techno music which made it difficult to understand Frau Instructor’s commands. Which were many, and complicated. A lot of gear shifts were talked about. Shifting to lower gears to go uphill or shifting to higher gears to go downhill. I was unsure how to downshift up or down. I’m sure it wasn’t rocket science, but I was becoming increasingly flustered.
Uta’s commands became more intense as she led us on a virtual tour of the Alps. We were climbing a steep precipice on our very own Tour de France (which, ambitious much?) so I shifted to the lower gears, pedaling slowly, my butt in the air. (The last place I wanted it to be.) Then suddenly Frau spotted a sharp drop-off: “Shift higher, pedal faster. FASTER!!!” Jolted by the order, I pedaled really fast, but missed the part about shifting into higher gears.
You can imagine the physics behind my dumb move: The pedals had no resistance but I was pedaling them fast so I soon lost control. No big deal, you say. You can’t lose much control on a stationary bike.
Oh, my friend. You are wrong.
My foot lost its traction on the pedal, but my heel got caught on a strap. (Which I probably should have asked how to secure properly.) In an effort to shake it loose while still pedaling madly on the other side, I stomped my left foot, thus compromising the entire structure. The bike came loose from its underpinnings and in slow terrible motion fell to the left. I collapsed in a heap, with a terrific crash, the bike on top of my left leg and when it landed I was parallel to the floor, still straddling the thing.
The music and class actually stopped while the instructor and my friend struggled to get the bike off my left leg, which hurt a bit, but not as much as my humiliation. People were starting to stiffle their giggles. I mean, who falls off a stationary bike?! If I had been worried about people staring at my butt, well, I had much bigger fish to fry now. My face turned the color of a 49ers sweatshirt. My friend Lisa was initially worried I had injured myself, but the truth was I had injured my pride. And apparently a stationary bike.
She told me later after a few margaritas that nothing like that had EVER happened in the six months she had taken the class. Well, of course not.
My only war wound was a hideous bruise the size of a muffin on my left knee and thigh. Of course summer was about to begin, of course I was single, of course the bruise was totally ugly and of course the bruise lasted until fall, when I had already packed away my shorts and short skirts.
Not my actual bruise, but pretty similar.
By KoS, Public doman, via Wikimedia Commons
Have you ever performed an epic fail during an exercise class?
Are you strong enough to hear my next tale? It makes the stationary bike disaster look like small potatoes…