Stalking The Gym

Published on: Aug 22 2013 by
Stalking The Gym

After my move from Germany to the US I had to learn that the cultural differences are HUGE. So huge that soon, I became all insecure and shy and didn’t even really want to leave the house anymore – until I came across a Groupon for 10 pole classes at my local Gym. I bought it and had to face one of my biggest fears right away. I had to call them to sign up for my first class, which was one of the things I was terrified to do.

As a former English teacher, I consider my English to be fairly good when it comes to interactions with living beings and I realize that talking on the phone actually does fall into that category; however, that machine you have to hold up to your ear makes it so much harder! Whenever you can’t see the other person’s face it is really hard to understand them, when you have to use a foreign language. Plus, a lot of times, the reception is bad or there is background noise at the other end. In addition, I am living in Virginia where most people are easy to understand, but at the same time you come across people with a pretty thick southern accent on a regular basis.

Face Your Fear And “Jump Over Your Shadow”

Well, I “jumped over my shadow” (as you would say in German) and called them. It was SOOO easy! I answered all the questions correctly (okay, to be honest, they weren’t that hard: What’s your name? Have you been here before?) and in return, got to sign up for my first class a few days later. They didn’t even say anything like: “Oh my god – your accent sounds horrible! Where are you from? I bet you suck, since you talk like that!” which, at that time was exactly what I expected people to say (or at least think!) when they discovered English is not my native language. (Turns out, it is usually more something along the lines of “Where are you from? Germany? Wow, that’s so cool!” but yeah… you get pretty insecure when you first move to a different country.) I was thrilled! (Mostly because calling them had turned out to be so easy!)

Wait… My Mom Does NOT Know Everything?

So now all I had to do was show up on time for my class, right? Oh no…. I tend to over think things and also am very nervous prior to events like that. In addition, remember everything here is different – that had to go for the gym as well. I had tons of questions: What do I need to wear? (Well, at least this one was easy to find out since they had the answer on their website.) Do I get dressed at home or at the gym? If I change before leaving the house, do I wear gym shoes or regular shoes, since I was going to be barefooted? Maybe FlipFlops? Do they have lockers for my things? If they don’t have any lockers, do I put all my stuff back in the car, or just on the side of the room? What do I even bring? A huge sports bag? Purse? Just my phone?

So many questions and this time, my husband wasn’t even of much help either (in a way, I was glad he didn’t know too much about pole dancing or lady’s gyms).

Now calling them and asking them about all those things would have been a little paranoid (I also would have had to go through the whole calling-in-a-foreign-language-nervousness again), so that was not an option. Asking my mom also turned out to not be as helpful as it used to be about 20 years ago, when she was still the person who always knew everything.

Let The Stalking Begin

So, as a modern young woman, who had went through a few relationships and flings in the age of Facebook and Co., I knew exactly what to do. I tried stalking my Gym, to see if they had pictures of their lockers and dressing rooms online. They don’t. So the next step was stalking their members. Surely someone must have taken pictures of themselves in front of a locker at the gym and another one pointing at the changing rooms, right? Well, no. Also, it was pretty hard to even find out who their members were (which is probably nice to hear for everyone who is concerned about Facebook’s privacy!).

This was not very helpful at all, so as a last resort, I tried just looking online for people who had the same questions as me. Surprisingly, not knowing at what point to put on your gym clothes, seems to be a very common problem in the US. This way, I found out that most people prefer to change at home. So, that at least gave me a starting point on which I could base my other decisions.

Like A Pro

I decided to put on my gym clothes at home, together with gym shoes (just because regular shoes would look weird) and only bring my phone, wallet, car keys and a drink. It was exactly what most other people were doing and no one looked at me funny. The class went well, I was hooked when I first touched the pole and have been happily using the gym like a pro (changing at home, just bringing in a few items) ever since.

Category: Fitness

About Tina Medlin

Tina is a newbie in the pole world and even a newbie in the country she lives in. Born and raised in Germany, she has always been athletic and used to practice Taekwondo and Kickboxing for about 15 years as well as gymnastics for 4 years. She also got the opportunity to try out other martial arts at various Taekwondo camps: Tang Lang Kung Fu, Goshin Jitsu, Karate, Judo, Wing Tsun and Tai Chi.

After she was done with school, she went on to university to study teaching English as a Second Language and German Language Arts and tried out a few more sports during that time: Windsurfing, Rock Climbing, Jiu Jitsu, Capoeira, Step Aerobic as well as one or two years of dancing (Jazz, Hip Hop, Ballroom) every once in a while. During that time, she also worked as a fitness instructor at the local gym.

After her studies, she worked as a teacher in Germany for two years, which took up so much time that she was not able to do anything else than running (which she hates and only tries out like 2 times a year, for about 5 times in a row, since it is simply boring: You leave the house, to get back to your starting point in a hurry!) and (thankfully) go out at least once, where she met her now husband, an American. They went through 1.5 years of a long-distance relationship, before Tina got her K1 visa to be able to enter the US with the intention to get married and staying.

Finally in the US, culture shock took over quickly and she needed something to get her out of the house, which is why she started her pole-career. From the first moment she was hooked and is now aiming for higher goals: Becoming an instructor! After only 10 classes, she was able to invert for the first time and after 2.5 months, pole made her look forward to coming back to the US during a trip to Germany.

Today, 3 months after starting pole and 9.5 months after moving to the US, she is a self-employed private teacher and tutor for German (telingu.com) and works as a freelance writer and translator (fiverr.com/tinamedlin).

Visit Tina's Website

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3 Comments to “Stalking The Gym”

  1. Pankake says:

    As long as you don’t show up to class riding an elephant or something, I don’t think anyone would give a second thought to what you bring or where you change. 🙂 Americans can be judgey, sure, but *especially* at a pole studio, people are usually too absorbed in their own selves to notice what you’re doing. Keep that in mind when you’re taking your first pole classes and feel nervous or self-conscious about how you look – everyone’s paying attention to themselves and oblivious to the others in the room! Haha.

    I will say, it’s a very common thing in American gyms to forbid cell phones (and cameras) in locker rooms. People are paranoid about strangers taking photos of them in some state of undress. Locker rooms are considered pretty private spaces, so I’m not surprised you couldn’t find any photos of the one at your gym.

  2. Ginger says:

    Tina, welome to Virginia!

  3. Peta says:

    I have never been to a gym in another country before (I’m in Australia), let alone one where they don’t speak the language. I would have been terrified too! It’s also probably a good thing, because here I tend to rock up in whatever I happen to be wearing that day and get changed in the other pole room, with the other girls, before class.

    On Pankake’s comment, I totally agree that most people at pole classes aren’t worrying about what others look like! Plus most of the time we tend to think we look a lot worse than other think. I love seeing girls of all shapes and sizes on the pole, they all look beautiful (even if they don’t think so).

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