A Toronto Transformation

Taking Care of Business

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Last week during my favourite exercise class, something was different. The instructor was as energetic and encouraging as always, doing planks still made me groan and the endorphins were flowing.

BUT throughout almost the entire class, there was a distraction. A distraction in the form of three young women who came in late and then proceeded to squeeze in to a space for two and chat.

Fortunately, most of the class was high-energy enough, with music at a volume to match, and most of us were sweating enough to fill a kiddie pool working too hard to take much notice, but during cooldown, when the music had quieted, and everyone was settling in for a zen, instructor-lead stretch, it became evident that there was a full-volume high-stakes gossip session taking place.

And I wasn’t the only one who noticed. Eye-rolls and stink-eye abounded from everyone in a 15-foot radius. The sweetheart of an instructor was trying some gentle “Let’s all take this moment for OURSELVES” tactics, but her subtlety was lost on the offending party.

I thought about the times this used to happen during pre-yoga meditation and how relieved I always was when someone would shush a couple of newbies who had missed the “no talking” sign as well as the clue that, besides them, no one was talking.

So I hopped up from my mat, bounced over to them smiled and whispered “Hey, could you guys just keep it down until the class is over?” adding a bright “Thanks!” before they could answer as I bounded back to my spot to finish my stretch.

And voila! they stopped. A couple of people actually thanked me after the class, and one of them was singing my praises to the instructor, who hadn’t noticed the interaction

Little confrontations of this nature are not usually my style (somehow, I have yet to tell someone on a train that their headphones are leaking), so much so that I found myself shaking a little through my last few stretches. However, the effectiveness of this one got me thinking about how often we put up with something that’s driving us and others insane just to be polite and avoid confrontation. It made me wonder how much of my time I’ve spent eye-rolling and sighing pointedly and fuming, when maybe all it would take to improve a situation is a friendly, polite request.

Granted, I wouldn’t recommend this tactic be used on everyone. But on petite women in a well-lit exercise class with witnesses? Why not?

Here’s hoping they’re not waiting in the change room to stuff me into a locker after next class.

3 Responses to Taking Care of Business

  • Cassie says:

    Good for you for actually saying something! I get so nervous just at the prospect of doing something like this, and yet in the rare occasion I actually do, I’m always happy I spoke up. (And after such occurrences, I’ve been physically shaky, too. I’m really glad that’s not just me.)

    My boyfriend, on the other hand, has no problem telling strangers when they’re being obnoxious. He’s never looking for a fight– he just has a low tolerance for people acting like assholes. Sometimes it’s embarrassing (and I’m all like, “Don’t say anything!!”), but most of the time I’m thankful he speaks up. It’s also encouraged me to do the same more often than I ever would have before.

  • Emma says:

    There are certain situations where I’ll speak up if someone is being awful, usually if I have to be stuck in a confined space with them for more than a few minutes! The greyhound bus is a perfect example… If I can hear your crappy music, you’d better believe you’ll be hearing about it from me.
    I do get really nervous when I’m working myself up to say something though, I think confrontation is always like that. Even if it’s something small, there is always the subconscious fear that the person is some aggressive psycho.

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