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Working It Out is a new health/fitness column chronicling MadameNoire Deputy Editor Brande Victorian’s journey to drop the pounds and get healthy.

When you begin a new workout regimen to lose weight — or even think about beginning one — there are lots of things you can become anxious about. Can I really do this? Do I have time to do this? Do I have the money for this? Are there going to be creepy men at the gym staring at me? Are the skinny chicks who do this on a regular going to judge me? The latter actually wasn’t even a concern of mine when I got back into a Zumba routine several months ago at a studio not far from my office. I live for Zumba because the moves are ones I can actually do for a whole hour, I love Latin music, and I work up a crazy sweat. Plus the classes tend to be full of women — 90% of which are rhythmically challenged yet still doing their thing and having fun — so it’s always felt like a no judgement zone. Until the one day I met #ThisBish.

I always like to get to classes early so I can save up my energy for the actual workout, rather than running to grab a spot before the instructor begins, and because I’m one of those people who likes to workout toward the middle, if not the back, of the class. At this point in my journey, I’m just not interested in seeing belly fat flap all around in those gigantic jazzercise mirrors. The particular day I met #ThisBish though, I’d been running late and once I got to the class there were only a couple of spots left — one of which was second row left, right in front of those dag on mirrors. Though not my preferred spot, I wasn’t going to not workout because of that so I popped a squat for two minutes and began stretching when a voice not far from me said “This is kinda hard. You might wanna go to the back of the class.”

In my naivety,  which I still can’t account for because once I come into contact with people on the streets of New York City I tend to be overcome with the worst of attitudes, I simply smiled and replied “Oh, I’m okay here,” low-key thinking the woman was being sympathetic to the packed class struggle and trying to point out free space. When she returned my comment with an annoyed expression on her face I was confused, and almost as soon as the instructor turned on “Suavemente,” the light bulb went off in my head and I realized she was suggesting I go to the back of the class because there’s no way I’d be able to keep up or keep from embarrassing myself in the front of the class. “This Bish!”

When I tell you I have never pushed myself in a class so hard before I am not lying. For one thing, I’ve taken a Zumba class at least 75-plus times in my life. This wasn’t my first Latin rodeo so I wasn’t worried about keeping up. But just to prove little Halle the Hater wrong over there, I made sure I went from zero to a hundred real quick (in my Drake voice) and cut my eyes at her every time there was a break in the song to make sure she knew I caught on to her hateration. I also decided when the class was over, and my heart rate returned to a normal level, I was going to give her a piece of my mind for trying to play me. But low and behold, little miss I-do-this left the class early and I never got a chance to redeem myself.

As someone who writes about other people’s business all the time, I can’t exactly say with a straight face: why are people so concerned with what other people do? But, being overweight is always one of those conditions that, for some reason, always tends to lend itself to public scrutiny and suggestiveness as the expense of said plus-size person’s mental state. If my weight is that much of a personal affront to you, why not encourage me to push harder from wherever I am (like my Crunch instructor last week who ironically asked me why I keep going to the back of the class) or congratulate me for trying to get my life together (OK maybe not because that would be awkward to me).

Anyway, I know when some folks see me all they see is a walking burden on the health care system, but until I show up at your door with a doctor’s bill and a laundry list of comorbidities — or unless I stand right in front of you in a kickboxing class and block your view from the mirror, please let me live! I have enough stuff going on on my journey to Snatchedville. Trust me, I’m working it out. Has this ever happened to you?

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