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  • Writer's pictureBrande Victorian

Sometimes I Do The Most When I Work Out To Overcompensate

You know all those sayings about not being in competition with anybody but yourself? I never quite grasped that lesson. See, for some reason, every time I step into a workout class the room turns into an episode of "American Gladiators" and I'll be damned if I'm the one who falls into the water right before the finish line and leaves everyone looking around like "WTF just happened?"

To be honest, I know the reason; I'm overcompensating. In most fitness classes I go to I'm the only one. Sometimes that means the only Black girl and so I twerk for my life to "Formation" because no one else in the room should be saying anything about the baby hairs they don't have. But more often than not, that oneness is being the only big girl in the class, and that shit is exhausting -- literally -- though it's the mental exhaustion I put myself through that I really need to check.

Entering any fitness space with the goal of losing weight is intimidating, especially when everyone around you is just doing that shit for fun and you're essentially fighting for your life. And since some of my earliest attempts at working out, I've always had trouble tuning out the voices in my head that tell me other people will judge me if I can't keep up. A little over two years ago, that voice became real when I grabbed a spot in the second row of a Zumba class and one of the skinny "I do this for fun" chicks told me "This is kinda hard. You might wanna go to the back of the class.” That day, I salsa'd and two-stepped like my name was Celia Selena Quintanilla Dancing with the Stars Cruz and ever since then I've been trying to shut that girl up in every workout class I attend.

I know it's ridiculous because in most of the classes I go to people are too busy watching themselves in the mirror to give a damn about me skipping a jumping jack. But every time an instructor gives me one of those "I see you" shout outs, I secretly question whether they're doing it because I'm really killing it or they think the big girl needs encouragement to keep going.

And then there are the other instructors who don't know I've been at this for some time now and feel the need to come over and ask "Are you OK?" whenever I grab a sip of water or modify an exercise for my level of fitness. I know the move these days is for everyone to find a way to stand out from the crowd, but when I workout I just want to blend in. I don't want to literally be the big girl the track is telling everyone to watch out for. I just want to be doing my thing like everyone else in the class, no special treatment or attention.

So I do my best to ensure that happens by pushing myself to the limit. But what's good for the Fitbit count isn't necessarily great for the mind. I've literally allowed assumptions to rob me of dope workout experiences, not to mention that feel-good endorphin boost that comes with exercising because I was too preoccupied with how Becky was pop locking and dropping it while she wasn't even thinking about Brande.

And if she was, fuck her (said with the utmost respect). But seriously, no one else in class is on my journey with me and most have no clue what it feels like to do a burpee-mountain climber-high knee sequence while overweight. And I'm glad they don't, but I don't need to beat myself up because I do. And that's what's really at the heart of the matter. I assume other people are judging me because I'm judging myself. I want to be so much more fit than I am that I think everyone else must see me as lacking as well. I've been so focused on that one woman who made that one comment that one time that I'd forgotten another instance when I murdered an elliptical and a thin blonde came over to me after I finished and told me I inspired her and made her step her game up during her workout that day.

So really it's my perspective that needs to change, not necessarily the makeup of the room. If someone is looking at me in class it might not be because they don't think I can keep up; it might be because they're trying to keep up with me.

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