Anti Gravity, my ass.

As you may recall from my last post, for 2016, I resolved to say yes more often. Yes to invitations from others, and yes, apparently, to myself (and if you missed it, you can find it here). Last night I invited myself to a class offered by my gym called “Anti Gravity flying fitness”. For good measure, as well as some accountability, I invited my partner in stupid workouts, my hot yoga loving, Zumba dancing, dear friend Wry. Wry and I share many things; a history with roller derby, a reconstructed ankle post roller derby, a love of strong drinks and dirty jokes, an outgoing nature, and a higher than average BMI.

Neither of us had tried it before. If you haven’t heard of this anti-gravity workout thing, it’s where participants suspend themselves from hammock like swaths of fabric suspended from the ceiling. Google it and you’ll see lots of thin athletic white people upside down, looking serene. You’ll read about moderately skeptic journalists trying it at some posh New York studio, and being pleasantly surprised about how fun and accessible it is. Try googling “fat people doing anti-gravity fitness” and you’ll read about how each hammock thing can hold more than 1000lbs, but you won’t see any inspirational plus sized folks doing a shoulder stand in the anti gravity hammock thing, or at least, I couldn’t find any. Wry suggested that we bring our derby helmets in case we fell. With my experience being a huge boobed yogi-in-training, I suggested a snorkel for when my airway was eventually obstructed by my tits.

anti gravity
Like this, but with way more boob in face.

We arrived early for the class and introduced ourselves to the instructor. We were okay with being the largest participants there, but with it being January and all, we expected a full gym of similarly inexperienced people, all trying to achieve their resolutions. No such luck. We weren’t prepared to be the only newbs. Maybe if there had been more than 7 of us in the room, we wouldn’t have felt quite so out of place. Oh well.

We were assured of assistance, and helped with the set up of our hammock to the appropriate height. Socks off, pants hitched up, we started with some leaning and stretching with the fabric supporting most of our weight. Warrior 3 was way easier with outstretched arms holding onto the grey blue silk. Downward dog with the fabric supporting our hips was a little uncomfortable, my pelvis was unfamiliar with the feeling of supporting all of my weight. “Now lift your feet and fly”, the instructor suggested. Nope. Not gonna happen. Not yet. I less than daintily pulled myself back and up into a standing position. Wry was about as trusting of the set up as I was and we exchanged some pointed eyebrow raises. Next up were some back bends over the hammock. Less frightening. We were in! We spent another 15 minutes moving around the hammock, sitting and swinging, twisting and bending. Not so bad.

Then came time for our first inversion. We were given specific instruction about how to maneuver the fabric and our bodies in order to get safely ass over tea kettle. It wasn’t pretty (and I would know because there are mirrors everywhere) but it was a success, at least for me. When I looked over at Wry, she wasn’t upside down with me. She said that she wasn’t sure that she had the grip strength to grab the fabric and pull herself topside, as we were instructed to do to get right side up again. I get it. I was clutching at the fabric as I swung around, thinking that I could save myself from impending death if the whole contraption tore and I tumbled towards the ground.

The class progressed, swinging, hanging, and inverting. Wash, rinse, repeat. I needed help getting into one of the inversions as it required a leg wrap that I couldn’t figure out on the first try, and out of another one, when my desperate grabbing for the fabric to pull myself up only left me with my hands on my thighs and my feet flailing wildly. I had inadvertently stranded myself upside down and when the instructor came over, I got scolded like a child (I told you not to….what were you going to do next?” Um, call for help?). Each time I flipped my ass into the air and brought my head towards the ground, Wry would whisper “you’re my hero” at me, boosting my confidence while she continued to opt out of the inversions.

There as a moment when we were on our stomachs, swaying back and forth, that Wry commented that we very much resembled whales being hoisted out of the sea. Flattering, supportive, and body positive? Nope! But when faced with challenges and you don’t feel like you’re succeeding, I think that it’s totally normal to have self doubt. I laughed along and caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. Save for my curly hair and lack of a dorsal fin, it wasn’t much of a stretch.

Lifting a Killer Whale
Photo credit: theorcaproject.wordpress.com

There were some really neat moments in the class. Being completely cocooned in blue grey silk, both seated and stretched out was incredible. Supported back bends? Love ’em. Figuring out how to maneuver my sizable ass and thighs around to get into position without laughing, grunting, and swinging violently, well, that may take more practice.

It ended with shavasana, suspended more than a foot off the ground, swaying gently.

shavasana
Shavasana

Back in change room, we dissected the class. Familiarity with the rigging might have helped at the start. Comfort with the pressure the fabric put on our hips and thighs, that would come with practice. Would we do it again? I was in, but Wry wasn’t so sure. It didn’t feel like a workout, yet both of us were trembling. Was it from fear or the endorphin rush that comes with surviving something terrifying, or had we really worked harder that we thought? Who knows.

For our workout buck, it wasn’t really worth it. But for an experience, it as well worth the price of admission (free with membership). They call it anti-gravity yoga, but I have never been more aware of the power of the earth’s gravitational pull than when I put all of my faith, and my weight, into some silk, canvas straps, and carabiners, trusting them to not let me come crashing down.

Later, when Wry retold her joke about having felt like a large acquatic animal being hoisted from the sea, the whale was replaced by a shark.

shark
Rawr

Brand new year, same old me.

Did you make any New Year’s resolutions? Did you end 2015 swearing to lose weight, spend less time on Facebook, eat kale, climb a mountain, or learn to walk a tight rope? Do you think you’ll be able to accomplish those goals? Are you going to spend most of this year beating yourself up because you didn’t learn to walk a high wire or get to the top of Kilimanjaro?

IMG_20160104_122353
My post it note reminder system.

I make resolutions, often on New Year’s Eve, or my birthday (or if I wake up with a hangover, resolving to NEVER DRINK AGAIN), and I’ve found that the best goals, the goals that I’m most likely to meet are S.M.A.R.T.

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Results oriented
  • Time-bound

Maybe it’s a holdover from my years working in retail, where goals are everywhere and sales associates, stores, and districts are constantly working to achieve goals, but that acronym is practically burned into the back of my eyelids. I see it every time I blink. While I may no longer quantify each of these factors in my resolutions, my most successful resolutions meet item on this list.

I made a few resolutions in 2015, and I like to start a new year by seeing if if I achieved any of my previous resolutions, and by setting some new goals for the new year.

  1. I resolved to end the year in a better financial position than I started it in. It may sound vague, but there are some measurable achievements in there. Did I end the year with more money in the bank? Owe less on my debt? Have a higher income? Better control over my spending? I’m proud to say that I met this goal. It was helpful for me to involve my husband in this one. When talking about money last year, we often said to ourselves “what is the goal? To be in a better financial position at the end of the year than the beginning” Actually referring to our goal helped us work towards it. We said it so many times that we didn’t even need to finish the statement. All we needed to say was “what is the goal?” and then we’d be better motivated to make the hard financial decisions. I’ve even been known to mumble it to myself when the urge to ‘add to cart‘ is overwhelming. But there’s still work to be done on this front, and I’m rolling this resolution over into 2016. I resolve to be in a better financial position at the end of 2016 than I am right now.
  2. I resolved to get a public library card. I had a vague understanding of what the library had to offer, and I wanted to begin to take advantage of all of the free resources available to me. I can proudly say that on December 30th, 2015, I strolled into my local branch and signed up for a library card. I achieved my resolution. My resolution for 2016 is to use my library card.
  3. Last year I resolved to focus on my own happiness. I tend towards depression, and I find that keeping an eye out for the positives in life helps me stay on the happier side of my personality. 2015 was a stressful and challenging year and while I came out of the year with a smile on my face, I think that I can work harder in 2016 to put my happiness ahead of my worries and my fears. So to this end, I’m going to roll out an old promise to myself. I resolve to say ‘yes’ more often. Not like in that weird Jim Carrey movie (conveniently called Yes Man) where the dude had to say yes to absolutely everything, but a less extreme version of this same idea. I’m an introvert and a homebody, especially when I’m feeling sad, depressed, or too fat for pants, and this means that I sometimes say no when I could have just as easily said yes. I resolve to try harder to go and do things when invited.  Full disclosure: I have both succeeded and failed at this goal in the early days of 2016. I said yes to meeting a friend at the dog park on Sunday morning and we spent the better part of an hour walking in the snow and getting to know one another a little better (and petting a number of super cute dogs in the process). But then later that day I said no to joining some other friends at a spin class. I’ll be super honest here, besides all of the fake reasons for not going (dinner with the husband, laundry, being ‘tired’) I said no because I didn’t think that I could keep up. It was a stupid reason to say no. I know that my friends don’t judge me like that. I know that my friends don’t care how well I can ride a stationary bike in a room full of strangers, with nothing but a pool of sweat below me to mark my performance. So I’m saying it here and now. If they invite me again, I’m in.
  4. I resolve to write more in 2016. Specifically here. I’d like to make it a weekly habit, but I’ll settle for monthly
  5. I resolve to clean out my garage in 2016. This may be my least achievable goal, as my garage is a dumping ground for garbage, recycling, bicycles, construction materials, sportsball equipment, roller derby equipment, old furniture, tools, tires, beer bottles, and general dirt. I dream of being able to park my car in my garage. I resolve to give it my best effort. I promise that if I’m successful, I’ll buy myself a garage door opener as a reward.

Let’s notice a few things about this list: No where do I resolve to lose weight, stop being lazy, or quit…anything. It’s been a few years now since I’ve ‘quit’ anything, and the last thing I quit was being hard on myself. I’m not perfect, in fact, I’m far from it. But I refuse to spend my life hating myself. I believe that if I do more good, it leaves less room for the bad stuff.

Whatever your resolutions are, I encourage you to see if you can frame them in a positive way. Drinking more water may mean less thirst for pop. Eating more vegetables may mean less hunger for junk food. Doing more yoga, or running, or learning to dance means more energy and less interest in the real housewives of wherever the hell they’re from. More nights out means less nights in front of the T.V. with a bag of chips. More reading means less Candy Crush.

It’s incredibly hard to do less of something. By resolving to more good, we may find that we have less time, energy, or interest for the less-good stuff in our lives.