Fear of Gym Class

On the Sunday before Rowan was about to start school on Tuesday, I got text confirmation that I’d be subbing two hatha yoga classes at a multi-franchise fitness centre. Two different locations, actually, in two different Metro Vancouver cities. My first subbing, procured through a Facebook call out.

Yes! I can do it, I reply. And then I realize it’s for this Saturday, the Saturday my husband has booked for his annual day-long birthday hike… with our car.

Hmmm. I figure I can get a girlfriend to babysit. But the car is tricky. Maybe I can borrow one. But anxiety about the subbing will make me feel anxious driving. And driving a friend’s car while looking for a gym in time to teach my first ever class in a gym …will result in my sweaty self crying in an alley lost, or in the middle of the opening AUM.

But my husband is firm. He booked the day. He booked the car.

No problem. I can handle it. Plus, he is being so extra thoughtful by agreeing finally to read all the FAQs on the Beaconsfield Home Learners page and do some research on home learning generally. The anxiety meter is already pretty high, what with Beaconsfield calling already to see if I want the spot, before I’ve seen what Selkirk looks like this year and way, way before I’ve managed to build a reasonable economic case for my husband. And I’ve been work-hunting for weeks so I’m pretty maxed out on faking extroversion.

I can do it. I will do it. I make arrangements with my girlfriends re babysitting and car. Rowan goes to school for one hour on Tuesday. He says it is boring. But I know this is good. Beaconsfield says they understand my dilemma and agree to wait on my answer. He will not meet his new teacher for a whole week. His last year’s kindergarten group will convene each day with the librarian.

Every day when I’m wiping crumbs from the counter, I schedule the evenings when I will be able to plan my sequence, my music, my maps and directions. It will be memorized. It will be challenging physically, but not too meditative, not flaky at all. After every meal while wiping the crumbs my stomach cramps and all my awareness flutters and pings against my chest, a demented moth.

I take one clonazepam (0.5mg) every night. Not when I first start to feel the dread, but always after I’ve done a run-through of possible sequences. The yoga has got to calm me. Not the pill. Otherwise the whole yoga concept is just a con. Got to be credible. I do the yoga. Think I’ll never be ready. This sequence sucks. And then I take the pill and watch two episodes of The 100 or The Returned and then go to sleep.

Monday – I print out the sequence and script for my first class in the winter session at Cedar Cottage. It should be good. Especially since, for first classes, I always write out a ridiculously detailed script to combat nervous empty-headedness.

Tuesday – The sequence is not good enough. It’s too easy. Too sweet. Not for the Gym. My pal thinks I should ramp up my usual slow style to more power strengtheners. I practice sequences from classes 4 and 5. They are challenging in the right way but the order doesn’t flow very well. I paint my toenails a very nice shade of blue and rub lotion on my disgusting feet. Self-care.


Wednesday – Desk day. I practice another sequence. Getting closer. Try some yoga playlists from Spotify. They are mostly stupid. I feel guilty about my plan to drive Rowan two cities over after school in rehearsal for Saturday. But I have to. What if I can’t find parking? I will cry. Luckily it is pouring rain after school and Rowan doesn’t mind so long as I promise him a treat.

We drive to New Westminster and find parking in a giant mall with signs threatening us not to even think of walking off site. We walk off site. Rowan is in heaven as we try exit via ramp, trying to make our way to the Gym. The only thing he talks about more than the shapes of car headlights is the design of parking garages. We arrive. The manager asks us to wait. We wait for a long time. Finally, after a few awkward minutes of conversation, I realize I’m at the wrong gym. There’s two in New West! Thank god for trial runs. We return home without time to find the real gyms.

Run through again in the evening. More clonazepam. More episodes of The 100.

Thursday – another desk day. I try from noon to figure out Spotify on my phone. I need my husband’s apple password apparently and he’s not answering all day. Aargh. In the evening, I finally figure it out and fiddle with the order of songs, trying to increase the intensity with the movements. I’m getting it! But it’s still not done.

Friday. All week Rowan has been a champ at school. Barely a sad face beyond the ritual of The Kissing Hand. Caspar is another story. He’s despondent, missing his favourite playmate. He saves one of his apple slices for Rowan. When we visit Trout Lake, he collects one stone for himself and one for Rowan.

Another surprise. An interview subject I’ve been chasing finally comes back. Got to do it by phone while I put Caspar in front of Sarah & Duck for an hour and cross my fingers.

The girls are going for a pint. I try to beg off with fear. It’s the night before. I can’t add alcohol to anxiety and sertraline. Egads! I need to rehearse again and again, and when my body is mush, I need to read everything Donna Farhi has ever written plus all the Yoga Journal pages about benefits and contraindications. I must be prepared for any question.

The girls harangue by text from noon onward.

I relent after one perfectly cued rehearsal with my debut Spotify playlist, Yoga Warrior. The music seemed amazing at first, each song titled a different asana which sort of match the mood. But now, after listening to it over and over I hate it. The students will hate it. It’s embarrassing.

At the pub, the girls want to know if 1)I could just breathe. It is yoga, after all. 2) Why does my husband’s birthday hike require my car all day, my friend to drive all our husbands and her kids back and forth to the mountain, and 3) me to drive my other friend’s husband’s expensive company car. They all agree I should just take my car and they will sort out the husbands’ transport between them.

Saturday morning – Meditate 10 minutes. Play that heart rate game with myself, where I imagine that I have to keep my heart below a certain speed or I’ll self-destruct.

My doctor prescribed me some beta-blockers earlier in the week. She says they’re a good alternative to clonazepam because they’re not addictive and lots of people take them to control stage fright situations. (If this is not true, write and tell me immediately because I love my doctor but my husband says beta-blockers are serious craziness.)

10 am – Gym number one in New West. Arrive safely. Meet and greet the receptionist. Room is good, music works in speakers. The class turns out to be three nice-ish women who just want to do their yoga and go home. They seem happy enough.

12 noon – Gym number two. I arrive with one minute to spare after circling the strip mall a few times looking for it. The receptionist barely grunts. Seven dudes with bulging muscles are jammed into a small side room. They’re nice and help me set up. It’s funny – with the ladies, I had to scramble a few extra poses to fill the time. The men are slower, more awkward, and groany. I have to cut out lots. But they laugh at my jokes. Guffaw, when I say some people can actually touch their heels to the floor in Downward Dog. At the end, the biggest guy, a giant, says the meditation was really good. Yay!

I wish it were Friday night again and I was ordering too many pints with the girls instead of gulping back my one and darting home to worry. This is amazing. I did it.

At Selkirk School on Monday, Rowan meets his Grade 1 teacher for the first time. She is awesome. Bubbly and excited, chatting about her personal life. We can do this maybe.

After school, I decide to warn her about Rowan’s issues with gym class. It terrifies him, especially the teacher’s loud voice. He had to skip it every week last year. When is gym class scheduled this year?

“It’s fine,” she says. “We had gym this morning. He told me he was nervous but it went fine.”

Effing amazing. Both of us.


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