It's unlikely that a representative from Alvin Ailey is going to scout for dancers at my gym's Zumba class.
But if one shows up, I'll be the clear choice. I know this from watching movies where the dancer with "heart" is chosen over the one with formal training, discipline or the ability to move her body parts in a coordinated manner.
Of course, I think I'm killing it. As my eyes are glued to the dance instructor, I become her -- a 20-something sprite with outsized boobs, flawlessly executing sassy body rolls. But when I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror, I see that I have turned bright red and my movements appear more characteristic of a neurological disorder than choreography.
So there I am, covered in sweat and looking like a member of my grandmother's all-Polio-survivor dance troupe (There really is such a thing. It's in Tucson). Luckily, I don't care.
Not caring how I look at the gym is a recent development. For most of my life, I avoided exertion because I look really unattractive when I exercise. I know I'm not alone in this -- fear of looking silly is the No. 2 reason people avoid the gym. (It's also the No. 1 reason, if you read into the "gyms are too crowded" excuse.)
But in the last few years, I have come to realize that most people are too self-conscious or preoccupied with their own cardiovascular suffering to notice me. And even if I do something spastic enough to attract attention, I think of it as a public service -- I'm helping others feel better by comparison.
My favorite classes, however, are ones where the instructors specifically tell you not to compare yourself to others. This is especially common among yoga instructors, who exhort you to "stay on your own mat," which means to focus on your own internal state -- and to avoid passing judgment on others or even yourself.
So yes, I may be the person uncontrollably farting while in the plow position, but if you are bothered by that, then you are just not as good a yogi as me.
Not that I'm making any comparisons.