The cool kids sit at the back of the bus. Everyone knows that. It's the furthest away from a teacher's earshot so they can be noisy, throw fruit pastels at eachother and make rude gestures to lorry drivers. The back of a workout class, however, can be a very different environment. A place for the shy and intimidated, it's where newbies can observe the pros and hide their shaking limbs. It's certainly where I'd have gone for my first class if I wasn't bullied to the front by over enthusiastic friends.
But this doesn't mean we put less effort into the class. We had beetroot cheeks and sweat stung eyes just like the front-rowers. I even managed to stand and cycle for a couple of minutes before my legs wobbled and gave up - a personal best by miles! So I was a little disappointed when we started a section of the class using the speedos, to find that mine was broken. It meant I couldn't follow the class properly and I felt a bit left out. I settled for copying the efforts of the legs pedalling in front and the facial expressions of my friend (more grimace = bigger effort).
After stretching our tired limbs, we were invited to give feedback on a shrinking class. I suggested working equipment may help and was far more disappointed by the following casual response than the broken bike...
"Oh, the girls at the back don't normally do that part of the class, they just do their own thing."
...Err, yeah! Most probably because they're expected to use faulty bikes!
I couldn't believe the instructor dismissed a whole group of people from a proper class experience because of where they choose to sit! I'm pretty sure if someone takes the effort to wake up early, haul their kit on and pay for a class, they want to be there. They want the instruction, they want to feel the benefits and they want the full use of the equipment. But it was assumed those at the back of the class chose to sit there because they're not fully interested or able.
Whilst I'm upset by the instructor's obvious dismissal of back-rowers, I can't help thinking we brought it on ourselves. Rather than putting ourselves enthusiastically at the front of a new class to soak up the information, we often hide ourselves away at the back. This distance between us and the instructor probably signals that we want as little contact as possible, active observers rather than up-front participants.
So don't be shy, be proud that you're giving something new a try or persisting with a class you find tricky. Welcome to the front row...(or at least the middle).