Fitness and me have never been friends.
To put it simply, I am a stereotypical nerd: physically weak, aerobically challenged and fairly uncoordinated.
Consequently, physical education (gym class) was not only my least favourite class, throughout school, but also a source of a lot of anxiety.
Perfectionism, competitiveness and an (at times) overwhelming need for validation from my peers providing a triple dose of doubt and frustration creating a horrible atmosphere whenever I had to lace up my running shoes.
I believed I was never going to be ‘the best’ or even the average when it came to sports. I was never gonna be an example of good-technique. I was never going to score the winning goal. I was never going to pick up a racket and feel the same confidence that Serena Williams carries with her as she struts on to a court. I was never going to be the person picked first for a team. Or second. Or third. Or fourth. Or fifth.
The acception to the rule was dance*.
In reflection, it was the emotional detox that came along with physically manifesting a story that I enjoyed so much. While technique and conditioning was part and parcel of dance, I would do just slightly over the minimum required and than focus my energy on embodying whatever character was playing.
Being active wasn’t my goal. Being happy was.
My university wasn’t (or at least wasn’t to my knowledge) a particularly sport-centric. However, sporting clubs did play a large role in social life. Again, I was faced with and ultimately overwhelmed by the relationship between my fitness and friendships.
This anxiety followed me home. Most of my friends from high school were still living aboard and my own time away had only damaged my coping tools. My first job, the end of my first relationship and all the other firsts of adulthood weight down on me.
I didn’t want to deal with the overwhelming emotions anymore.
Seeing the fear in my mother, that hopeless fear that comes with the thought of being utterly powerless to do anything to save the person you love, scared me straight.
Or rather, it changed my course.
I knew I needed something new. Something to inspire and challenge me. Something that made me want to get out of my head.
By chance or fate, I happened to walk by a new dance and fitness studio across from work, in January 2017.
Tuesday, I sent an email.
Wednesday, I was booked in.
Thursday, I had my first pole dance class.
*Author’s note: While dance has been widely-classed as an art rather than a sport, it still requires a tremendous amount of physicality and in my humble opinion (and in my heart), dancers are both artists and athlete.