Apprehensive about the first day of class, I put on my black kung fu pants and brand new dry fit yellow shirt. It was hard not to notice that it was an out-of-shape body in the mirror, reflecting back at me, but there was also a spark of excitement in the dark eyes. So I tucked my shirt in, tied up my ponytail, tied the laces of my white kung fu shoes, sucked in my tummy and nodded at the new Kung Fu student in the mirror with determination. The boys had also changed and were already running around with their friends, laughing and exploring their recently developed strength and skills. They tumbled together, wrestling each other.
My instructor is a gentle soul and I knew this because she’s chatted with me from time to time, but I was pretty intimidated by the beautiful, strong, flexible and intense figure standing there calling us “Form in!”
Oh, look at what the boys are doing! Whoops, I need to stand here. Oh, too close to my classmate. Okay, here.
As I stood there, side-by-side, with my classmates, I could feel my insecure self getting ready to voice its usual negative sentiments. I’m so out of shape. My ankles hurt. My knees are creaking. My stomach is sticking out. I have a big butt. My face is huge. Taking a breath, I tried to ignore its presence and instead, focused on the instructor.
Hey, the boys need to concentrate more on what they should be doing! Oh they need to be doing their stances better. Why are they talking? Whoops, I need to focus on my own class.
After our greeting, warm up began. We followed the instructors as she led us around the room in a gentle jog. My muscles started waking up and my breath began to shorten as my body reacted to the shock of exercise after years of a sedentary lifestyle. Muscle memory kicked in and I ran faster, faster, faster, but lung capacity held me back as I gasped for oxygen and I started feeling lightheaded and dizzy. Waves of nausea washed over me as I slowed down and beads of sweat dripped from my forehead onto the mat.
I have to stop. I’m going to sick up. I’m going to pass out. I don’t want to give up. I look stupid. No one is looking at me. Hey, look at the boys. Oh, I don’t feel good.
My instructor gently reminded us that we should think of the long run: slow and solid like a mountain. I slowed down everything, tempered my effort to be commensurate with my current physical ability.
Slow and steady. I can do this. Don’t look at the boys. Just 10 more seconds. I can do this. Just 5 more seconds. Yeesh, my leg hurts from holding it up. 4. 3. 2. 1.
I made it through my first class!