Having lived most of my life on stage, where I was told I belonged (I think it had something to do with my loud speaking voice) whether it be an actual stage, in a writer’s room, or doing my best Sonny & Cher impersonation (playing both parts) in front of my parent’s friends in our living room, stepping ‘off the stage’ has never been easy for me, and it’s now become troublesome and sometimes embarrassing in light of my new career as a Pilates instructor.
There’s not a great need for voice projection when you’re in your client’s face, or crotch, cueing positions and movements, or busting out a rendition of All That Jazz, while giving someone a hamstring stretch. And yet, this doesn’t seem to stop me. The Pilates studio is not a stage, I know this, but old habits die hard.
I was at the studio the other day, talking to another trainer about belly scooping and postural alignment, or some such thing, when the owner of the studio, Janice, called me over to the front desk, where she was standing with a few other people. “Dani. Dani, can you come over here?” She smiled and with a bit of fun sarcasm in her voice said, “Do you have any availabilities to train a new client? It says in the computer that we have to contact you.” I looked over. Any normal person would simply walk to the desk, nothing more, nothing less. But because the world, which now includes the Pilates studio, is my stage, and normal has never been my forte, I started talking before I got to the desk.
“Available? I don’t know. You know how booked I am. I’m very popular you know. I’ll have to check.” And then I decided to play on the contact reference and made that assinine, I point to my eyes with two-fingers and then point to Janice’s eyes, as if to say, “I’m watching you, you’re watching me.” What? Janice took the bait and mirrored me with her two-fingers, which only encouraged me to continue my stage work. This wasn’t going to end well.
A very tall woman, who I had never seen before, was standing at the front desk. She must’ve been 6 feet tall. I’m 5’3 and three quarters (I totally grew half an inch since I started Pilates) I was in socks, and could’ve walked right between her legs without ducking. Janice looked at me, “Dani, this is Thalia. She wants to schedule a private session.”
I looked up at Thalia and with the confidence of Shecky Green in his heyday, I shouted, “Weeeeelllll, aren’t you a tall glass of water!” In the middle of the ‘Weeeeelllll’, I regretted ever learning how to talk. I've never ever used that phrased in my life. And if I'm correct, it's usually reserved for men. I couldn’t look at Thalia. I was too mortified to see her reaction. I did, however, look over at the manager behind the desk and Janice, who both smiled but quickly pressed on with scheduling and pricing.
Suffice it to say that I won’t be training Thalia. Although nothing was said out loud, I think everyone thought it best that she go with another trainer. One who can hold their tongue and not see every goddam moment as an opportunity to grab the microphone.