when failure actually doesn’t suck in the end

I hate failing. I hate not being good at things. But more and more, I’m realizing that even if I fail, the simple fact of trying can open up a whole lot of possibilities.

At the suggestion of Carrie, I took (and subsequently failed at) an aerial dance class back in August. At the first class, I was really excited (and had no idea what to expect!). I was trying something new, everyone seemed really nice and helpful, and I thought maybe this would be the thing for me… until I realized that everyone was exponentially more talented than I, while I really sort of sucked. It was embarrassing to need more help than everyone else, and to have to repeatedly be reminded of the sequences (my dyscalculia makes remembering sequences REALLY AWESOME and by REALLY AWESOME I mean impossible). I ended up quitting after the intro series because I felt terrible making the instructors deal with me and I felt awkward with everyone watching me suck.

But taking that class made a huge difference in my life. The first few days after the first class, I was sore in a way I had never really been – or at least not in years. Every muscle hurt, even ones I never thought I’d used. I felt like I’d gotten a real workout and I loved it. Also? During the class, I realized how amazing it felt to suddenly be able to do something new with my body. When I started, no way in hell could I climb a rope to the ceiling, but as my arms and core got stronger, it was a lot easier. It was about more than just “losing weight” or “being in shape” – it was about training my body to be strong.

It was sort of the missing piece in my little exercise puzzle. I’d always tried to keep up the cardio – my love/hate relationship with the elliptical, Couch to 5k, etc. – and suddenly I realized there was a whole new world out there. I loved building muscle. I loved making my body stronger. I loved the way it felt like I was doing something productive – not just running in place on a cardio machine – and the soreness that proved me right the next day. When a fitness studio opened across from my work and offered a free boot camp class, I signed up. And then I signed up for a package of classes. When a new barre studio opened up, I tried that. I got a month-long LivingSocial deal for a TRX class and went nearly every day before leaving for Europe.

I have muscle now. I can feel it. And, strangely, this has all made me more motivated to do cardio as well. I think I’m finally at a point where exercise really is a part of my life and I fit it in. I don’t love it most days. A lot of days I really have no desire for it whatsoever. But I always feel good after I’ve done it – even if it’s a miserably exhausted “good” that is only good because I know I did something healthy for my body. I’m slowly starting to feel off if I skip a day, and I find myself wanting to work out even on days I didn’t schedule. It’s almost becoming one of my things – a hobby, if not a talent.

And it’s all because of aerial – because that class made me realize exercise is about more than “losing weight.” It made me realize I like being strong, building muscle, toning my body. It also made me realize that for my strength-building and conditioning work, I really need to do it in a class of some sort – I can’t motivate myself on my own. With that information, I’ve been able to find ways to fit it into my life. It’s completely changed the past few months for me, and even though I was a laughable failure at the actual art of aerial dance, I’m incredibly appreciative that I tried it.

(Of course, I write this after not exercising AT ALL in three days… hey, you win some, you lose some!)

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3 thoughts on “when failure actually doesn’t suck in the end

  1. I feel the same way about aerials! I actually have upper body strength now! That makes me feel badass. 🙂 With beginning aerials it’s hit and miss, if everyone in the class was way more talented than me I’m not sure if I would have stuck with it. But I started with a class that was all about the same level of skill so it worked out well.

    I’ve wanted to try a TRX class, what exactly do you *do* in class?

    • TRX is a lot of conditioning work using your own body weight. There are…apparatuses of some sort (I don’t really know how to describe them) that you use to pull yourself up/do squats/do push-ups/etc. I wasn’t sure what to expect, either, but there are actually some YouTube videos on it, and I ended up really liking it. It’s just SUPER expensive – like $25/class, which is insane – so I probably won’t do it again anytime soon. 😦

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