I ran away from my gym class today

Photo credit Getty Images
Photo credit Getty Images

My name is Alla Umanskiy, I’m a 42-year-old woman, and I ran away from my exercise class this morning.  Officially, it’s called a “bootcamp,” which is kind of a fancier word for hard-core interval training that truly kicks your butt. So let me explain.  The reason I walked into the class today, looked at the board that summarizes what the workout will be for the day, and walked out is because I’d have to… gasp… partner up with another human.  Gasp again.

Let me explain some more. I don’t do “partner up.”  I hate “partner up.”  Partner up means looking around the room at a group of strangers in expensive leggings and trying to lock eyes with any person who looks friendly and nonthreatening enough.  IF I do find a person who’s also frantically scanning the room like me, we quickly assess each other to see if we look approachable enough, fit enough (or unfit, in my case), non-intimidating enough.  That locking-eyes experience is traumatic and brings back memories of high school gym class (or any class) where partnering up quickly was a sign of popularity.  You always knew the girl who immediately had a group of potential partners in every class.  If you accidentally lock eyes with that girl and motion, like, hey, do you want to partner? She’ll smile apologetically and shake her head, like, no, sorry, I’m already with Mandy.  There was always already a Mandy.

At that point, feeling rejected and dejected, you keep searching the room for some other friendly face.  At that point, back in school, there was no option of getting up and walking out of that Honors Biology class.  Well, friends… I’m no longer kept hostage in Honors Bio.

By nature, deep inside, I’m an introvert.  I don’t do strangers. I don’t do large parties. I don’t do conferences where I have to mingle. I despise professional networking events, cocktail happy hours, any place where I must socialize with a large group of people I’ve never met or barely met.  I love small groups. I love friends whom I’ve known for decades. I love intimate. I love tete-a-tete. I love coffee for two, not New Year’s blowout for 30.

So, this morning, I stared at that board in my otherwise amazing, challenging bootcamp, saw the word “partner,” then looked at my phone, pretended to just realize that I have a meeting coming up, and… walked unsteadily out the door.  I got in my car, drove to the trail where I run, and ran my usual distance, all along thinking, “what is wrong with me?!”

Do grown women behave this way? Aren’t adults supposed to face challenges and improve themselves, which often means doing things we’re uncomfortable with? I don’t know the answers. I searched for them for five kilometers and didn’t really find anything.  I’ll go back to the gym tomorrow. Hopefully, no partner work tomorrow. I’ll try again.

About the Author
Alla Umanskiy is a writer, Jewish mother, wife, an amateur runner, and a mediocre figure skater, living, working, and raising a family in the Atlanta area. Alla holds an undergraduate degree in Journalism from Georgia State University and a graduate degree in Professional Writing from Kennesaw State University. She's been published in various local and national publications, and recently finished translating a book from Russian to English.
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