Saturday, August 4, 2012

How Do We Live in Our Bodies?

The other night, I tried a Zumba class. I knew I wouldn't be able to do every move. I was a bit surprised to find out that I couldn't really do any of them.

I came home and said to my spouse, "I don't live in my body the way the Zumba instructor lives in her body."

He said, "I don't even know what you mean by that."

Not for the first time was I reminded that my relationship to my body is not the norm. Well, not for modern times. I used to joke that I had a medieval relationship to this body that I felt was always ready to go after the decadent, the extra calories, the slothful approach. I felt like a pure soul trapped in a body that was always ready to embarrass me.

Of course, that's hardly fair to my physical form. Lately, I've tried to develop a sympathy for my body, which after all, has done the best it could. I take weight off, and I put weight on, and my body copes admirably. Some days I give it fruits and vegetables and all the healthy things it needs. Some days I gunk up the works with junk.

Let me just state here that I realize that I'm still sounding rather divorced from my body. I'm far from integrated. But it used to be much worse.

I do better in exercise classes that help us think of ourselves as athletes: spin class and boot camp classes. I love seeing muscles emerge. I love feeling stronger and being able to do what I once couldn't do.

I do less well in exercise classes where there are lots of different movements. Having arms and legs going in a multitude of directions is more complicated for me than I suspect for others.

Then there's the dance aspect. I've always thought of myself as too klutzy and ungraceful/heavy to be a good dancer. That said, I'd probably do better in an exercise class based in ballet than in Latin dance--or any dance which has slow movements, rather than fast movements.

In fact, once I stopped trying to follow the Zumba instructor, I enjoyed the class more.  I twirled and moved my arms in whatever way they wanted to go.  I ignored the fancy footwork.

Maybe it's the type of movement, not the speed.  Zumba moves just felt very sexual to me. Sure, it was a class of women. But for a variety of reasons, I've never felt comfortable in those sexy dance moves.

I've spent my life as a woman trying to blend in, trying to downplay my female body, trying not to attract negative attention. I can't just turn that off for a Zumba class.

Maybe it's time to explore self-defense classes!

Or maybe I should return to the lesson of gymnastics:  what do I do well? 

Or does that leave me too happy in my comfort zone?  Maybe I should focus more on having fun and less on what I'm accomplishing?  Maybe I should try new things.

As with much of my life, I expect that the answer lies in moderation and variety.

No comments: