YMCA, Jane Moneypenny & a Moment of Zen

by Jane Moneypenny

As I mentioned before, I absolutely hate exercising. So when the kickboxing session at the community center ended, I was surprised to find myself joining the Y for more classes. Not only that, I and J boldly joined TWO back-to-back. Anyone who knows me knows this is a milestone. I am actually giving up a good part of the “me and dinner and my favorite tv shows” time that I so look forward to at the end of a long work day. To top matters, I signed up to walk the St. Louis 5K. Clearly, someone has poisoned my hamburger.

The Y classes were vastly different from the ones at the community center. There, we had half of a crowded hot gym of basketball players with loud hyperactive techno remixes and an anorexic thin woman bouncing and yelling at us as we made faces behind her back.

It was a complete shift when I stepped into the small quiet studio with air-condition blasting and no bad music. A bigger surprise? Both instructors of the two classes (Y-Scuplt and Y-Step) were 50-year old overweight women! Both women proved their ability to kick our asses. The mirrors also threw me off; I could no longer make faces at J and instead was forced to look at myself hopping around (I later asked her if she thought the mirrors were skewed because we both seemed to be more slender. A close examination resulted that no, the mirrors were not angled, so it must be our black clothes).

The step class was so hard, so active and so exhilarating that I had the fleeting thought, “I think this instructor needs to be my life coach.” She was cheerful, but not in a peppy cheerleading way; frankly, it felt like a tougher version of Oprah or Mayo Angelou pushing us to our best. I also found out why the air-condition was blasting; we were all in a layer of sweat in 10 minutes. The group of people were also much more diverse; there was actually men stepping and jumping with us. And it wasn’t to pick-up girls; they were there with their wives working together to lose weight. Imagine that.

The pleasant surprises kept coming. In the last 5 minutes, she turned the music to jazz and we cooled down while listening to her soothing voice. In that moment, I reached some strange moment of zen/europhia. It rarely happens despite growing up in a hybrid of Catholicism and Buddahism. I was watching myself in the mirror and feeling like I was in the music montage during a movie and this feeling of absolute peace fell over me.

I’m hurdling through so much change right now that for a moment, I worried that it was a sign that I’m happy with this life in St. Louis. My new job has proven to be an amazing experience for my career growth, but also a really fun environment of great people (I came to this conclusion as I watched one of my bosses push around a stolen grocery cart with two trash cans of ice and beer to celebrate St. Patrick’s, but a minute later, stepped into a conference call with complete professionalism). With everything going so well here, why am I leaving?

I’m not going to lie; I panicked for a moment (my co-blogger Smallbone is going to smack me through her computer screen, all the way from NY). But no worries! I stayed firm on my decision to leave. New Orleans is waiting. Europe is waiting. A city TBD is waiting. My future is waiting. It’s ironic: everything that wasn’t working out that made me want to leave is working smoothly now. That’s the way life works out though, I guess.

So with a good deal of fear tinged with a dash of courage and excitement, I push forward. Now if only I could get a date.

Kidding. Kinda. šŸ˜›