My 20-something stick-insect work colleague does a yoga class every Wednesday lunchtime. Having cursed her size 6 figure many times, and once again bemoaning that the three kilos that appeared around my middle over the winter refuses to budge, stick-insect approaches my desk.
“Hey, why don’t you come and do a yoga class with me—you’ll feel so much better.” Will I? “Yeah, and the first class is free if you come as my guest, so you can try before you buy. It’s awesome; you’ll love it”. Will I? “Just bring track pants and a t-shirt on Wednesday and we’ll go.” O-kay … well, it’s nice of her to ask—after all she’s 20-something and I’m probably the same age as her grandmother …so I’m honoured. I think.
Now, for those of you who don’t know; I work at a university whose campus spans 340 acres. In order to get to the yoga class we leave our building on one side of the campus and do a brisk walk to the gym on the other side. Consequently I am knackered by the time I get there—let alone ready to do any sort of fitness class.
I’m wearing my trackies and t-shirt. Everyone else is also wearing trackies and t-shirts. But not quite. My trackies cost 15 bucks from Target—everyone else is wearing yoga pants. There’s a difference? Apparently. My trackies are just that. Their yoga pants are very nicely cut, and have the brand name embroidered in little letters on the bottom of the leg. Also, and this is a dead giveaway, the label is on the outside! So there they are: 10 size 6 stick insects in trendy yoga pants standing in the middle of their mats. Their t-shirts are actually singlets that hug their waist; my t-shirt is long and baggy. And although I’m the first to admit I could lose a couple of kilos, I’m not fat (my pants are a very respectable size 10); I’m beginning to feel like the proverbial brick outhouse.
And I have to tell you that walking into a room full of 20-something stick-insects in very expensive yoga pants, with their lovely long hair twisted nonchalantly around their head does not make me feel better.
Stick-insect colleague takes my arm and we move to the two empty mats at the back. Our instructor (who bears an uncanny resemblance to a younger version of the late Farrah Fawcet-Major) fronts the class. “Let us sit in the lotus position.” Let’s not. The class sits. “Are you right there at the back?” No I’m not. If I could move from a standing position, into the lotus position, in one seamless, elegant movement I wouldn’t be at the bloody class …
Three awkward, and somewhat clumsy, attempts later and I’m sitting on the mat. Not in the lotus position—just sitting—and it hurts.
For the next four hours (30 minutes has never been so long…) the instructor encourages the class to move their bodies into various positions. Some of them so complicated I start to think I’m watching a performance of Cirque du Soleil. A little tinkling bell announces the end of the session and the class rises to its feet in yet another seamless elegant movement. I, somewhat unfortunately, appear to be glued to the mat and stick-insect colleague comes over to help me to my feet.
I stagger out the door and come face-to-face with a group of people carrying enormous balls. “They’re fit balls,” explains stick-insect, “you balance on them, and do squats and crunches, and lean backwards over them. It’s awfully good for your back. I go every Friday after work—you should come, it would make you feel better.”