While I was at the spa, I took a class called, "Tread Sweat," a group exercise class on the treadmills, consisting of speed and incline intervals. While I don't really do any treadmill walking, I decided to walk the class (rather than run) because it was early in the morning, and I thought I'd use it as a warm-up, a segue into more difficult cardio classes.
Boy, was I off.
See, I'm not the most efficient walker in town. I tend to bounce (to the point when when I'm in physical therapy, other therapists take pause with their patients to watch me walk). I'm a bouncing curiosity. When you spend so much time and energy going up and down, there's less of both to propel forward. It's basic biomechanics. So, I'm slow. I'm a (pretty) fast runner, but a really slow walker.
So, here I was on the treadmill, warming up, trying to take the class at my own pace, when the instructor approached me and said, "Pick up the speed!" I told her I'm not really a walker and was using the class to warm-up. She walked away. Phew.
Take two: she approached me again and said (and, to clarify, this all occurred over the microphone): "C'mon, you can pick up the pace!" Having done so since her last visit, I replied, "I'm doing a couple of other classes today. I'm fine." The coast was clear for now.
But, then she came back again, looked at my heartrate (broadcast on the treadmill) and said AGAIN, "Let's pick up the speed!" And, that's when I decided to pick up the (verbal) pace: "That's the third time you've asked me. I'm taking other classes today. Can you not ask me to speed up again?" Thankfully, she didn't return.
It's frustrating this go-all-out mentality, particularly in a population that might not be so accustomed to exercising. She didn't know who I was or what (if any) medical conditions I have, nor how to motivate me to perform. She didn't know that I am confident in my level of cardiovascular conditioning. She didn't know that I have a fitness background, and that I know it's not good instruction to approach someone three times (she had singled me out for some reason, perhaps because my heartrate was lower than it "should" have been) when she's clearly walking to the beat of her own drum.
I had to assert myself. But, how many people would do the same? How many others would feel that they couldn't keep up, that they weren't doing it right, that they really were out of shape, that they should be ashamed for this? How many others would leave the class feeling dejected, like they had failed the task?