So my new gym also has aerobics classes. Luckily, they're much more accessible than the last gym class I tried to take. The teachers are much more engaging, and they informally separate the classes by level and partner the students up with someone with the same strength and experience. Also, there's no memorizing of coordinated step moves.
So things are a little better, especially because I always have a partner who's floundering and saying, "wait, what?" as often as I am. (Ah, brings me back to my swim team days in high school, when I was always, ALWAYS, in the slowest practice lane, just me and the chola girls who were only on the team as part of their probation. No joke.) There's one girl I get partnered up with a lot on Friday nights, and I may even dare to say that she's more lost than I am. Well, I'm stronger than she is, at least.
Anyway, one of the teachers is this young woman about my age. Her classes focus on "resistance" (that's the word she uses). So basically she makes us do things like squat in place, akin to standing over a public toilet, until our legs shake and it's all I can do not to fall over. (Luckily, my partners and I always get like, 7-to-8-second counts, while the other people get 10-to-12-second counts.) She is so friendly and patient with me, and she never laughs or sighs over having to come over and adjust me every.time. we do something new. She even used the term I dread hearing at the gym, but which I cannot escape: it's that blasted euphemism, consiencia corporal, or "corporal consciousness," as in, "Dani, let's not forget our consiencia corporoal!" (They're indirectly saying things like, "why are you standing/holding yourself/stretching like that? Don't you know where your legs are?")
In my resistance classes, this damn term usually comes up when the teacher walks over to me and points to the side of my ass and says, "flex this muscle. Are you feeling it in this muscle when we do this exercise?" And I say, "yes, sure," but I'm thinking, I don't know how to flex any kind of muscle there. I didn't know there was a muscle there to flex. The only butt flexing I know how to do is clenching my butt inwards, which is not flattering at all and which I don't think is what you have in mind.
During our classes, the trainer woman will inevitably whisper, "está torta, Dani!" and smile, or she'll say things that she pretends are for the group, like, "everyone, make sure your feet are facing the same way..." while glancing in my general direction.
Because the word torta means both "crooked" and "pie," I've made up a little game for myself. As I'm lying there (or squatting there, as the case may be), blubbering and sweating while the beautiful trainer woman makes it look so easy she might as well be shrugging and checking her watch, I tell myself I'm allowed to have a piece of pie every time she says, "Dani, torta!". You know, as a reward for all my suffering. Yesterday, I allotted myself 7 pieces of pie. (Then, today, my student gave me a piece of cake when I went to her house. I think that counts as 1!)
It doesn't make me feel any better that the teacher woman manages to look so, so amazing while she does all this stretching and resisting. She even reaches sexy status, but not a raunchy, 80s workout video attempt at sexy (she wears exercise pants and a t-shirt). She manages to achieve a subtle, I'm-aware-of-my-body sexy, which I think is the most nerdy girls like me can ever aspire to. I'm always so fascinated.
By the end of these classes, my self-esteem is so badly shaken that I feel myself wishing for some kind of invisibility cloak (or at least a pretty towel to wipe up all the sweat).
Yesterday, I went up to the teacher to apologize for my awkwardness. (I used the very helpful expression "estou sem jeito!" a lot, though I'm not even sure if I was using it correctly.)
And then the teacher said, "oh, I called you this weekend! Did you see? I really want to start English classes with you."
"Oh, OK, sure. Tell me a little about your English."
"Oh, I'm terrible! I'm so slow and I don't learn."
"Are you sure? Don't worry. I'm sure you're good. I'd like to schedule a time to sit down with you and ask you some questions so I can hear your level of English."
Suddenly, ultra-confident trainer girl actually started to choke up! "Oh my goodness...speak in English? To you? Oh my gosh, I'm too embarrassed. I can't, I can't."
I couldn't help it. I started laughing. "Menina," I said sternly, "You see me totally embarrass myself every day in these damn classes. How can you ever worry about being embarrassed in front of me? I'm sure my corporal consciousness is much worse than your English!"
She laughed at that, and we set a time to talk about her classes, and I left feeling a little relieved and bemused. My lesson of the evening (aside from the existence of the gluteus medius muscle) was that everyone thinks they're good at something and bad at something else, and the person you may be admiring for some kind of ability may also be admiring YOU for an ability of yours.
I think the gym teacher and I have a lot to learn from each other!