During fitness class people often think about themselves while looking at their images in the mirrors on the walls.
Their thoughts range from self doubt to self worship, which is arguably just another form of self doubt.
The doubters ask themselves, ‘How does my hair look? How does my face look? How does my outfit look? How do my shoes look? How does my body look?’ ‘How do I look?’
The worshippers tell themselves, ‘My hair looks great. My face looks great. My outfit looks great. My shoes look great. My body looks great. And I look great.’
But doubters and worshippers also share one common question while they’re at the gym: ‘I wonder if anyone has noticed me?’
The answer is usually, ‘Yes. Someone has noticed.’
But the people who notice you looking at yourself in the mirror don’t spend much time, if any, thinking about your questions of self doubt or statements of self worth. That’s because those people are asking themselves the same questions or making the same statements, which means, they are also thinking about themselves.
People who doubt or worship themselves should not think or worry about how they look, regardless of whether they’re fitness class beginners, veterans, or someplace in between. There’s only one important question to ask yourself at fitness class: ‘How does it make me feel?’
Fitness class should make you feel calm and relaxed. It should make you feel energized and electric. It should make you feel strong and healthy. It should make you feel hot and sexy. It should make you feel confident and aware. It should even make you feel happy and alive.
When I recently walked through the front door of GoodLife in Kingston on my way to a Zumba class, the receptionist at the counter asked me how it was going. I said, ‘I feel powerful.’ When she smiled I said, ‘I bet you haven’t heard that today’. She laughed and said, ‘I’ve never heard that.” As I headed off I said to her, ‘It’s a state of mind.’
The other type of thinker in fitness is different and easy to spot. That’s because dreamers have active and well-equipped minds. They are physically there in the room with you. But they are so deep in thought that their minds are in another place far beyond the mirrored walls around the fitness room.
The dreamer is often doing a series of moves completely different than the rest of the class. When the class is speeding up, the dreamer is slowing down. When the class is moving this way, the dreamer is moving that way. When the class is doing this, the dreamer is doing that.
Dreamers transport themselves through the looking glass, back to the past, into the future or off to a world that doesn’t exist. In spite of the pulsing music and the booming voice of the instructor trying to get the class to move as one, the dreamer moves alone, to a different beat.
While doing jumping jacks during a recent GoodLife BODYVIVE aerobics class my mind drifted away. Strangely, I began to think about and then imagine I was doing the ceremonial jump dance of the Maasai warriors of Kenya.
To help attract a member of the opposite sex, the young men of the Maasai tribe keep a straight posture while jumping vertically as high as they can. It’s an open display of strength and manhood performed in front of the eligible women of the tribe who are drawn to the men who can jump the highest.
During BODYVIVE I felt I had to jump high like a Maasai warrior because the women in the class might be watching my vertical leap in the mirrored walls, to see if I was strong and healthy and vibrant.
It’s possible they had that very thought, if they noticed me. But then again maybe they were just watching themselves in the mirror.
LW Oakley lives in Kingston, Ontario and is the author of Inside The Wild, and Inside The Wild 2.
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