Sometimes challenges mask themselves as humiliation. I arrived for my Capoeira (Brazilian Martial Arts) class at Nago Academy and was shown into a large room of twelve people who were all dressed in white and running around in a circle. I looked down at my black workout pants and hot pink and orange striped tank top and started humming “One of these things is not like the other”. I approached the instructor, also dressed in white, and told him I was new, he pointed to the group and indicated I should start running. So I ran. It felt a little like elementary school when you have to find the perfect entry time to jump rope double dutch style but I found my opening and joined the circle.
Every corner we took, and there were a lot as the room was small, my feet kept slipping threatening to throw me to the ground. I wondered why no one else was having this problem and then realized I was the only one wearing socks, everyone else was barefoot. I stepped aside, ripped off my socks and then had to re-enter the circle.
Once we were all warmed up our instructor asked us to line up against the wall where he started creating groups. Now it started feeling like Jr. High, I sensed I was going to get picked last for my lack of athleticism. One by one he started pulling people from the wall and putting them into groups until I was the lone, pink (both my tank top and my skin from the exertion) person standing against the wall. He looked at me and told me he was going to be my partner. I had a mixture of emotions, fear, as I was going to have to workout with the instructor and joy because he was hot.
The rest of the class was challenging but enjoyable, I was able to do the majority of the moves and only once did one tiny modelesque girl tell me I was doing it wrong. When I entered the class I was embarrassed at how different I was, how much I stood out from the group but when I left I was proud of my accomplishment. It takes huge “Brazilian nuts” to walk into a community like this and not turn around and run away.