I Am a Great Man
On a Sunday morning at a Lululemon store, I found myself among a bunch of dudes, yelling out, “I am a great man!”
It was weird.
I have oppositional defiance disorder, so, obscured by everyone else’s voices, I would say my own thing, like, “I think I’m pretty good,” or, “I’m fine, thanks.” Nothing clever, just something to save myself from feeling like I was being obligated into a social ritual, which I instinctively rebel against. And also to protect myself from a sense of embarrassment, even though it seemed everyone else in the room found it motivating.
My friend, who runs a group workout that I regularly attend, and is also a “brand ambassador” for Lululemon, had invited me to what he had described as a workout session. Lululemon has guest trainers come in and use the store space outside of shopping hours for various seminars or activities, like yoga or fitness or life coaching or whatever. It’s part of Lululemon’s attempt to build a brand identity around some manufactured sense of community and life philosophy, and not merely a pile of admittedly well made but crazy expensive clothes.
My friend neglected to tell me beforehand that this exercise class was especially targeted at men. I wouldn’t have gone if I had known that this was a gendered event, and not just because of the disappointment that there weren’t any women in yoga pants. It’s that I think all-male events can all too easily slip into some weird Iron John-esque territory. But, since I was already there, I let it slide.
The instructor explained at the beginning of the class that every nine minutes a timer would go off, and everyone would have to stop what we were doing, squats or push ups or sit ups or whatever, and yell, “I am a great man!” Followed immediately by doing five burpees. Then we’d return to the previous activity.
I get that it’s just a way of trying to get everyone pumped up. A harmless ritual built on a fake-it-’til-you-make-it rationale. Still, I just feel silly declaring, “I am a great man.”
Not because I don’t think I am. Quite the opposite. I think I’m awesome. It’s that the need to declare it feels to me like evidence that you don’t currently believe you really are. Who do you feel you…