Saturday, June 27, 2009

A Woman in her Thirties Accepts a Challenge

I have never been a competitive person. Maybe it's from coming from a family of three siblings--I am both the youngest girl and a middle child. Maybe it's from ten years being the slowest swimmer in my age group on my swim team. Either way, I think I accepted early on that I was probably not going to win anything ever, so don't bother getting bent out of shape about it.

Yesterday I was ready to take a tap dancing class at my gym. That's right. Cardio tap dancing. One of my 'bet you didn't know this about me' anecdotes is that I actually learned a few tap dancing moves from my friend L in high school. I figured since I am currently a lady of leisure, why not? So I went.

You can imagine my surprise when, standing with the crowd of people outside the door to the cardio room waiting for the doors to open, I heard the tip-tap-tap of people who were just finishing the class.

'I thought tap dancing was a 9:30!' I said to the group of women standing next to me.

'No,' they answered. 'Tap is at 8:30. Sculpt is a 9:30.'

'Sculpt' is one of those words used by fitness instructors and massage therapists that is actually a euphemism for serious pain. 'What we're doing is sculpting your muscles,' they say during your seventy fifth reverse sit up.

'You should try it. It's a great class,' one of the women said. The look on my face must have given away my hesitation and she quickly added, 'You could always leave early if it's too hard.'

Now, if that isn't a challenge from one woman in her thirties to another, I don't know what is.

'Okay, I'll give it a shot,' I said. I knew there wasn't going to be any winner in this situation. The woman was legitimately trying to make me feel like I had an 'out' if the class was too hard. But something stirred inside me, that latent desire to feel like I could do something even if the people around me were dubious. It was on.

The class was hard. Really hard. Thanks to a refresher course on L's Dad's Wii, I was at least recently re-aquainted with the basic step moves. It was the weights that did me in; my spaghetti arms were crying in protest within fifteen minutes. But to end with push-ups? That was almost too much.


A woman in her thirties might have outgrown her weekly swim meets, but even the least competitive among us feels the need to push herself when faced with a challenge. Even an unintentional one. Our challenges are harder now than completing fifty meters of breaststroke in under a minute, but they are no less deserving of a ribbon in the end.

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