I can vividly remember the first exercise class I ever went to. It is not a good memory.
I was 19 and I was extremely unfit. I was a pale, malnourished sadsack of a girl. I had so little muscle tone I was as floppy as a ragdoll. I liked to go out dancing and sometimes my flatmate and I would ‘go on a health kick’ and do the Cindy Crawford workout video in the sitting room (I was inordinately keen on celebrity workout videos). Then afterwards we’d eat a readymade pizza, drink cheap supermarket vodka and smoke ourselves silly.
I was a student, surely this was to be expected! But when I went home for the summer, my mum was worried about me and the fact I looked like a Victorian chimneysweep with rickets. She suggested I came with her to her beloved ‘body pump’ class. Actually, I think she promised to take me for chips afterwards to sweeten the deal, or I’d never have agreed to it. Anyway, I put on some holey old leggings, my Nirvana T-shirt and my old PE trainers and slouched unenthusiastically into the class.
‘Body pump’ was a relatively new concept at the time – a class set to music and involving choreographed exercises while lifting heavy weights. The class was full of middle-aged women who could lift dumbbells that weighed more than I did.
Shamingly, I couldn’t lift the lightest weight. I had to do the class using just an empty bar. Even that nearly killed me. Everyone found it hilarious. I had to admit it was pretty funny, but it didn’t make me want to go back. It put me off exercise for a while, reinforcing my view that it just wasn’t for me.
Eventually I took up running, did a basic yoga course at an arts centre that I quite enjoyed, and my early aversion to exercise became a distant memory. However, there is still something intimidating about going to a public exercise class for the first time. It still always brings back memories of doing squats with no weights and feeling like I was going to pass out.
When I moved to Brighton at the age of 24, I think I tried every yoga class in town. I went to Bikram, ashtanga, flow… All I really wanted was a nice basic class where everyone was friendly, nobody took it too seriously and I wouldn’t stand out in my mismatched ancient PE kit. It was harder than it sounded.
The element of the unknown is always scary. I’m not self-involved enough to think everyone’s looking at me, but I still don’t want to be the one getting everything wrong and falling over at the back while perfectly Lulu Lemon-ed women roll their eyes and snigger.
If you can relate, this is where Misfit’s beginner yoga workshops come in. The whole point is they are for absolute beginners and we’re all in it together. We all know that feeling of not being sure what you do with a block and what the hell ujjayi breath is. We’ve all been there.
The two-hour workshop will teach you the basic poses and give you an idea of what to expect from a public class (or give you some tips on home practice if the idea of a public class really fills you with too much horror). You can ask any questions and be totally reassured that no question is too basic/silly/weird.
Most importantly, we promise there will be nobody there turning their nose up if you turn up in a T-shirt you got free at a work conference and some ill-fitting leggings you bought in Primark circa 2007. In fact, we salute you.