Have you been following me on Instagram or Snapchat lately? Then you may have noticed that I’ve been very into this place called Mazi Dance Fitness Center. So into it, in fact, that I got them to hook one winner up with a free pass to use at any of their three Chicago locations. (Did you enter yet to win the pass and more fitness-themed prizes valued at over $300? Only one more day!)
What you might not know about me is that my obsession with Mazi is a return to an active lifestyle that I avoided for a long time. The thing is, I grew up a sports-obsessed tomboy.I lived and breathed sport. I relished nothing more than beating some girl to the ball and ruining her chances to score on our goalie. Seriously – my first dream was to be Mia Hamm. No, that was my second dream. My first was to make girls from opposing teams cry from my Ty Cobb-like swing and (less violent) intimidation tactics.
Then I found theater and ended up with a C-cup before I hit 14. (You think middle school was rough for you? Remind me to tell you about the time my bra came undone in 7th gym class.)
1 My Sweaty Bands don’t move for my entire workout. Totally worth the $15. | 2 Do yourself a favor and get fit for a good sports bra. I recommend the ladies at Nordstrom and this bra by Panache. | 3 It’s also a great idea to be fit for shoes based on the workout you’re doing most. Regardless of what you choose to do, hit up a running store and tell them what you need. Bonus points if the shoes end up cute! | 4 There is nothing wrong with waving your nerd flag while you’re working out. What’s yours? | 5 Toss everything you need in a cute Ban.do bag the night before your workout and set it by your door. | 6 If you’re working out during your lunch hour, do your coworkers a favor and shower. Do yourself a favor and do your hair with beautifully packaged Amika products because it’s just fun. | 7 I refuse to pay a lot of money for workout clothes. I wait until Old Navy is having a big sale and then stock up on high-waisted workout leggings because no matter how hard I try to keep my pants up, they always slide down. At least if my pants are high-waisted I have to pull them up less.
But I digress. Somehow those awkward teenage years turned me into someone who didn’t exactly care about being active. My other interests became my priority. My boobs became an excuse. My depression made me not give a shit. On those days when I couldn’t get out of bed, misguided loved ones encouraged me to go for a run, find a neighborhood gym, buy yoga mat, as though it were the simplest thing in the world. When showering became a life priority again, my anxiety kept me from trying to be active.
Have you ever felt like you need to be in shape before you can go to a gym? Like seeing yourself red-faced and sweaty in a mirror next to hot girls in teeny bras and sweaty guys grunting with each deadlift might be a little too much for you to handle? That’s where I was six months ago and – if I’m being totally honest with you – sometimes still am. Hot girls can be intimidating when you feel less than everyone whose path you cross.
The encouragement of men to hit the gym can be laughable. Let’s face it, something about a flat chested dude prescribing an aerobics class to a woman with an extra thousand pounds* of breast tissue threatening to bruise her chin with every inch down a staircase seemed to me superfluous to traditional psychiatric methods (*estimated weight).
So, Dear Reader with Curves (or those without who are otherwise nervous to start working out – I’m nothing if not inclusive in my neuroses), this is what I want you to know:
Those annoying things you hear are totally true. Working out will be good for your mental health. You will miss hitting the gym once you’ve made it part of your routine. Also, no one at the gym is looking at you unless you’re paying them to correct your form. Gym rats are way too interested in their reflections, y’all.
When you’re ready, follow my no-fail steps to loving* exercise. (*I’m not saying this will be an immediate reaction. Next day muscle ache will piss you off.)
- Find a workout that makes you happy. For me, that’s Mazi. Aside from some first day jitters, I have never felt self-conscious or judged in any Mazi class. I spend an hour listening to great music, dancing with like-minded women, and cracking jokes from the back row. (You don’t expect me to be silent for an hour, do you?)
- Eliminate your roadblocks. I don’t have time to dance before I leave for work at 6:30 each morning, so I make it to my favorite classes at night. Even though I quite literally pass my house on between the office and the gym, I know that if I stop to change I will never make it out again. To save me from myself, I bring my gym clothes with me to work and change at the studio. Sure, I get annoyed carrying all that extra crap with me (being a 30-year-old with a backpack feels super classy), but it’s what I need to do to stay on track with my goals.
- Set an attainable goal. Maybe that’s doing your chosen workout once a week for the next month. Maybe it’s convincing your best friend to join you. Maybe it’s a number of pounds you want to drop by Valentine’s Day (although I do not personally support the use of scales, but we can talk about that later if you’re interested). Come up with something that you know you’ll be proud to finish – and then do it.
- Buy yourself something pretty. Okay, so, maybe this is a weird me thing, but I started feeling excited to go to the studio in part because I liked what I was wearing. I felt cuter in a well-designed workout tank than I did in an old t-shirt I got for free at some college event. When I feel cute, I feel motivated. If you’re not like me, there’s got to be something else to get you pumped for the gym. Seek it. Find it. Continue.
- Ignore your demons. Dear Reader, we are our own worst enemies. Sometimes it’s hard to admit that we feel good about ourselves. Women are socialized to want to look perfect but not to acknowledge that we like how we look in any state. Listen to that first voice that tells catches yourself in the mirror and says, “Dayum girl.” Tell the second voice that wants you to not be satisfied to go eff itself. Sure, you’re working towards your goals, but where you are right now is pretty damn awesome, too.