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This picture is of me, noticeably overweight, attending a silks class. This is something I’ve always wanted to do, but I looked noticeably out of place in my XL frame, compared with the other women in their size two Lululemon leggings.

At one point, before we began, I actually quietly asked the instructor if there was a weight limit. She reassured me that people a lot heavier than me had hung from their ceiling on those silks.

Before we started hanging from the ceiling, the instructor had us all sit in a circle and introduce ourselves and our goal for that session. Of the six of us, three people said they had the goal of joining a circus. These were women who, it was obvious, were not at their first silks class. The other two women had a goal of some variation of losing weight/getting healthier.

When it became my turn, I just said my goal was to have fun. The other women smiled at me in response and I began to feel more welcome.

And I had so much fun even though I wasn’t able to do half of the same tricks the other women could. At one point, the instructor showed us how to fly sideways in the air. Everyone else could do that, but I did good just to get both my feet off the ground, so the instructor came to me and helped me modify that.

Five years ago, I would have found myself so embarrassed and sworn to myself that I would never step foot in this class again. But I stopped worrying about what I looked like compared to the other women and just took in the experience. And I had fun.

See, I realized I have never hated exercise. I’ve always hated that I couldn’t run as fast, or lift as much, (or in this case, swing as high from the ceiling) as everyone else. Growing up, I never tried out for a sport I would have honestly had fun playing because I knew I wasn’t good at sports. I feared the rejection.

My well-meaning dad once signed me up in fourth grade to play competitive indoor soccer. I was a bench warmer, and when he asked me what my favorite part of playing was, I told him I enjoyed hanging out with my friends and the snack after the game. I’m sure that wasn’t the response he was looking for, and needless to say, I never played again after that season.

I think this concept can be applied to a lot of things. Kids who struggle with math don’t like doing math. People who aren’t naturals at cooking don’t like cooking. But like anything, you will get better in time.

So I’m looking forward to my next silks class. When we go around to share our goals, I will tell everyone that my goal is to simply enjoy exercise.

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Madison Boling

Madison Boling has a Bachelor’s degree in Human Resources Management and a Master’s degree in Teaching Elementary Education. She is a teacher, a firefighter wife, and a mom of two young boys.

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