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Jessamyn Stanley’s Confidence-Boosting Advice for Trying a New Workout Class

Zoe Weiner

Zoe WeinerApril 19, 2019

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Photo: Instagram/@mynameisjessamyn

Whether you’re a total beginner or the Venus Williams of workouts, trying out a new class for the first time is nothing short of overwhelming. You’ve got no idea what to expect or whether you’re going to love it or hate it, and chances are you probably won’t be able to do every move as perfectly as you’d like. In those situations, it can feel endlessly frustrating, and like everyone is looking at you and thinking that you can’t do the work. As someone who has been brought to tears by this exact experience on more than one occasion, trust me: I know it sucks.

Which is why the first thing I did when I got Jessamyn Stanley, founder of The Underbelly and peak #confidencegoals, on the phone, was ask her how to fight these feelings. “Just know that everyone in the room has felt the exact same way you do,” she says. “Everyone feels insecure, everyone feels like someone is looking at them.” TL:DR? Don’t let feeling anxious stop you from trying something new…because that’s why it’s called a practice.

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My amazing assistant @alovely_dae convinced me to give y’all some actual descriptions of my yoga workshops instead of the tired ass boiler plate I’ve been making her use for ages. It’s live on my IG stories right now and I put it on a highlight reel called “WORKSHOPS”- you can also follow the link above for tickets to my classes. Short story- yoga is not about practicing yoga postures perfectly it’s about peeling back the layers of bullshit that envelop all of us. That means I DONT GIVE A FUCKKKK if you follow along perfectly with the sequences in my IRL yoga classes or @theunderbellyyoga. Literally couldn’t care less. You can legit spend the whole class in #corpsepose and I will be so happy for your ass because we’re not in a dance troupe and this isn’t synchronized swimming or any shit where we need to move in tandem. You just do what you need to do and we gon be alright. Yoga is not exercise. Yoga is not fitness. Don’t bring fitness bullshit to my yoga class and we’ll be square. Link above for tickets, I’m in Portland next weekend, see y’all there 💋💋💋❤️

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Instead of looking at your own discomfort in these situations as something embarrassing and awful, try thinking about it as a positive, instead—especially when it’s your first time. “There’s always going to be some kind of new experience that takes you out of your comfort zone, but that vulnerability is the space with so much power,” she says. “If you can, just settle into it and be like: ‘You know what? F**k it, I’ve never done this before, I’m gonna fall flat on my face, and it’s cool.'”

If you still find yourself looking to the left and the right about what other people think, remember that ultimately you’re showing up to your workout for you, not for anyone else. “Just say, ‘I’m just going to show up for me—I’m going to try to be in this space just for me,'” says Stanley. “And when you start to make that mental shift for yourself, it turns into something that translates into the other parts of your life as well. Because then, you go into a new environment or try a new style of exercise or whatever, and you don’t have to get quite so caught-up in what that says about who you are as a person. You can just show up for yourself just to try it. No matter what happens, everything was perfect.”

To borrow a phrase from the greatest movie scene of all time: To me (and to Jessamyn Stanley) you are perfect.

Whether it’s your first time or not, crying during a workout is actually super common. Here’s why it happens. Plus, Jessamyn Stanley shares her thoughts on inclusivity in the wellness industry. 

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