I Love My Body.

I just had 3 days off from teaching Spinning classes and, although it was clearly what my body needed, I feel a little off balance. I am really looking forward to today's ride. Yesterday, I took advantage of the time off and went to this cool spa in College Point, NY (see http://www.NYspacastle.com/). It's an cultural infusion of Korean Saunas and a European spa. This was my fourth visit, and it always makes me think outside of my cultural box. As I was reclining in a huge padded chair, getting an amazing "hand and foot massage," I was revisiting some of my experiences. While the place is catching on, and there is clearly a cultural mix happening, most of the patrons are Korean. The main level, which houses the gorgeous saunas, is coed, with each of us dressed in a little "uniform" that must be worn. The downstairs, women's locker room, has its own hot tubs and water massage beds...with no bathing suits allowed...completely naked. The only women who are clothed are the Korean women dressed in black bras and underwear giving body scrubs to other naked women. There are more women, sitting on small wooden benches, scrubbing their own skin in front of sinks, rinsing themselves with tepid water from small wooden buckets. The showers are not enclosed. I think you get the picture...for the average small-town white girl (hello) this can be a bit daunting. It is a bit of sensory overload...where do you look? Do you look? Do I want someone looking at me?

If you allow it, here's where the liberation happens. Go ahead and get naked (don't even try to cover up with the washcloth-sized towel they give you...there's no place to put it anyway), slip into the hot therapeutic water, and look. It might be a bit of an exaggeration to say that something magical happens, but it feels that way. All the different body types seem to blend into "the female form." Bodies are seen as they ARE...without the push-up bra, without the airbrushing, without the lycra. Waxed and not, full-figured and very thin, young and old, scars from c-sections and other surgeries...it's all there. The confidence with which these women hold their bodies is inspiring and contagious and, all of a sudden, yours might not seem that bad, your back might even straighten and you might hold yourself up a little higher. I want to write that "noBODY is perfect," but in all actuality, everyBODY is perfect. What would happen if we just accepted our bodies the way they are or, even, (gasp) loved them. Would the glaring imperfections begin to melt away? Would the back aches and nagging pains be alleviated? Would our bodies reward us by becoming more functional and strong? After all, "what we focus on... grows."

I know that this soapbox is an old one, footprinted by many a feminist over the years. But, being a fitness instructor puts me in an interesting place of observation. It upsets me greatly when I hear the beautiful woman who can kick butt in Spin class openly hating her body. And, for some reason, this is even more upsetting when she is older than a "certain age." I can't help thinking that it must be such a waste of energy, to still not have found some body acceptance into one's 30s and 40s. I give a little leeway to the 20-somethings, who are still trying to "find themselves." And, I'm not even going to touch the eating disorder epidemic. But, I was one of those 20-somethings. I remember hating...no, HATING things about my body. Now, 2 children and 10+ years later, boy would I love to fit in those jeans!! And I know I'm not alone.

I'm not saying that I never fall into the trap of disliking things about my body, but I have come to a place of gentle acceptance. I focus on the good things and remind myself how strong I am (a little heavier, but in better shape than I was 10 years ago). I want to enjoy good food, have a glass of wine and eat ice cream with the kids when I want it.

I'm also not saying that you should not care for your body or strive for the shape that you want. I'm saying the opposite...love your body, take care of it, exercise it, keep it healthy, and indulge in pleasurable things. We all want to look good, I just invite you to examine your definition of "good." My real wish is that you don't let the numbers on the scale ruin your day. Do yourself a favor and the next time you finish a workout, whether it's Spinning or something else, close your eyes, take a deep breath, thank yourself for what you just did, thank your body for being strong enough to push through it, and congratulate your self for an ass-kicking job well done.

This class is a ride down memory lane for some of us and a little retro for others. When I told the class we were riding to 80's and 90's Music, one guy rolled his eyes at me. I assured him it was mostly "good stuff." I love this road...nice big varied climbs followed by fun flats. Happy Spinning!
1. Book of Days/Enya (warm-up)
2. Bittersweet Symphony/The Verve
3. Like a Prayer/Madonna
4. Groove Is In The Heart/Deee-Lite
5. Better Man/Pearl Jam (best hill, EVER)
6. Head Over Heels/The Go-Go's
7. Blue Monday/New Order
8. Just Like Heaven/The Cure
9. Buddy Holly/Weezer
10. What's Up?/4 Non Blondes
11. Freedom/George Michael
12. Fade Into You/Mazzy Star (cool-down)
13. Shepherd Moons/Enya


Chelle said…
Wow Jen. Very well said. It's things like this, your writing, the way you speak, the way you think and just who you are that makes me love you so much and be so proud that you're my big sister.
gosisterhood said…
You are absolutely right. We do lose perspective and need to appreciate where we are in our lives. Thank you for saying what needs to be said...

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