Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Swinging in Berlin

My friend Marika and I met in Berlin for a little 3-day yoga get-away.  We stayed at Aspria, a full service fitness club that also has guest rooms.  It's a pretty cool concept that lets you work out as much or as little as you want with all the benefits of an upscale hotel.  There are about 25-30 classes a day that you can participate in covering the full range: tae bo, pilates, qi gong, step, spinning, every imaginable yoga discipline and on and on and on.  Basically, you can burn off the breakfast buffet by ten a.m. 

We weren't quite so aggressive in our efforts choosing one morning to create our own sport called shopwalking which consists of putting on your sneakers and spandex, tucking a credit card into your waistband and then walking out the door of the hotel and hitting every cute boutique within a five mile (eeerr kilometer must think in metric) radius.  We did, however, partake in something called Antigravity Yoga.  I had my fingers crossed that I would emerge from the class with the legendary "yoga butt" that gravity currently oh-so-cruelly denies me. No such luck.  Instead, we found ourselves swinging in orange vertical hammock-type thingies. Seriously. It was like an audition for a Three Stooges themed Cirque du Soleil.  
 (pictures from Crunch Gym and Om Factory)

It was not pleasant.  First, you spend half of the class hanging upside down which means you spend the other half of the class fighting a severe case of head rush.  Second, wrapping your wrists and legs in cloth while swinging upside down carrying your entire body weight is not comfortable.  It's certainly not uplifting to have to dig a wedge of cloth out from the chubby slice of flesh between your abundant hips and overflowing thighs.  Thirdly, and most disgustingly, the hanging hammock thingies stunk.  Bad.  Like never seen the inside of a German-engineered Miele washing machine bad. At the end of the class you cocoon your whole body in the hammock and gently sway back and forth in a sort of swinging Savasana.  Let me tell you, being encased in a bacteria-infested, sweat-stinking silk scarf is not relaxing.  I must have looked like an alien baby being born as my elbows and knees frantically punched out my orange womb moments before my claustrophobic head emerged gasping for air.

Then there was the whole naked thing.  I just can't get used to it.  I can't. I'm American and you can fill in the blank when it comes to sexuality / body image here__________ but I was raised in the generation of women who never took showers after gym because there were no shower curtains on the shower stalls. The idea of other girls seeing you naked was just, well, horrifying.

So men and women, complete strangers, walking around sans clothing and sans self-consciousness is foreign to me. I just can't grasp it.  To me naked = sex or something in the vicinity thereof.  I'm not saying that's healthy. I'm just saying. I can't seem to grasp how in a spa or sauna or beach a clear line is drawn that says naked is natural not sexual.  I don't get how you can play cards at the beach with your neighbor and his wife and not compare his wife's goods to your wife's goods. And vice versa for the fraus. "Is it just me, Silke or do these Bratwurst look smaller than normal?" Wink. Wink. Protocol instructs that you are not supposed to look and you are never supposed to stare.  Not that you'd want to. Most of the bodies you would have to love to like but still... they're naked!  How can you not look?

Me? I admit it. I'm looking at the whole lot of you. Naked lady lying on the lounger reading gossip mag with one leg draped casually over your knee thus exposing all your girly bits. Yup, I'm looking at you.  Hot chick with Brazilian bikini wax and suspiciously perky Lady Janes. Yup, I'm looking at you.  Fat guy picking lint out of your belly button - I'm trying really, really hard not to look at you. When I see two cute naked guys step out of the sauna and run their hands through their glossy, damp hair I get all jiggly inside. Like I'm in high school again trying to choose between Ponch and Jon. Jon, he's so all-American. No wait, Ponch he's so dark and sexy. But Jon's so nice. But Ponch's smile. Ponch. Jon. Ponch. Jon. Hey, why not both! It's the eighties! And they're...they're...naked! When I call my husband later that night and say between giggles, "honey, I saw a cute, naked guy today and it wasn't you" I begin to think that perhaps I lack the maturity to properly assimilate into this country. When my husband's response is to ask in horror, "You didn't try to take a picture did you?" I begin to think I might not be the only one questioning my maturity.

Overall, it was a really sweet get-away.  Yoga, shopping, talking (in glorious, glorious English), great food, talking, massages, napping, talking, bagging expensive dinner out in favor of hanging in the hotel room with wine and cheese, talking, yoga, talking, more shopping, walking, walkshopping, napping, bagging second Hatha II yoga class in favor of more food, shopping and talking.  Yeah, all good.
p.s. I would have taken a picture of the cute, naked guy but I was naked and didn't have anywhere to put my camera ;)

1 comment:

Carol said...

I ran across you while looking up information over the yoga gravity something! Too funny! Where I had considered bringing this to my yoga center I thought "now maybe NOT"!?" I am also an american but living in Holland. My yoga/coaching center is called Soul Essentials. You can also find us under the name
Thanks for the laugh this morning. Have a lovely day!
Greetings from Holland.
Carol Sadée