"My friend is going to come," C said with a smile as she returned to the aerobics area of the gym.
It was Tuesday night, and I was minutes from hitting start on the iPod to begin my 6:15 p.m. BODYPUMP class. The crowd, as it always is in summer, was little thin, and I was excited to have a warm, enthusiastic body to fill in. C and I quickly set up a station for her in the back - where C thought she'd be more comfortable - and I hustled to the front of the room to get things started.
The class was a good one. Though there were only four ladies, I felt like I was on my game and enjoyed teaching some new material. I pushed myself weight wise and did all of the walking planks on my toes. Plus, I was looking fierce in my knee socks.
But, really, this post isn't about any of that. It is about the friend.
The friend has lost 85 pounds and, after class, she told me that it was her first time exercising in 13 years. Her knees and weight had, in part, kept her out of the game. Until Tuesday. My class was her first time moving her body with the intent of fitness in more than a decade. To say I was humbled would be an understatement.
She had heard the music from the class as she watched her daughter tumble. She had been interested. But intimidated. She was intimidated of what people might think, how people might judge. She was embarrassed, she said, that she had the weight to lose.
But the gym manager had told her about me. My story. It's a story that I sometimes forget is mine. The friend said knowing that I had been there, that I knew what it was like to be there. It made a bit easier to walk through the door. If anything, knowing the story made her want to meet me. I was floored. Because, to me, I should be the one wanting to meet her.
I've thought about the friend a lot since then. I've thought about the things I want to tell her. I want her to know what it's like to feel embarrassed that you had so much weight to lose but the only thing you can do about your highest weight is to change it. Be different. Be better. I want to tell her not to feel intimidated about coming to a class. Fitness instructors want you to come. I want you to come. I want you to feel the way I do when I work out. I want to tell her to feel strong because she is. You have to be strong to commit to losing weigh and following through.
The thing I did tell her is that I hoped to see her again. And she said I would.
It is my hope that I think of her, her story when I teach my classes. It is my hope that I make everyone feel welcome and able because, to me, the beauty of group fitness is it allows a person to do what they can, the camaraderie to get through it and the inspiration to believe in who they can be and shed the image of who they were.