|Image from Wikimedia Commons|
And yes, in case you haven't already picked up on this, I have a hard time not bringing music into every facet of my life.
So here I was in my sweatpants, oversized t-shirt, and tennis shoes, huffing and puffing, when I kept noticing something a bit off. I'd actually noticed something previously because yes, I've done these workouts for some time but since I know the routines practically by heart now I've found myself paying more attention to details rather than just trying to make it through the exercises without ending up flat on the floor. In this particular workout there is an instructor and two assistants who seem to do the majority of the hard work. In spite of all the jumping up and down, crunches, and military presses, there is constant babbling coming from the coach with some mini verbal interactions with her assistants from time to time. What I had noticed earlier that was confirmed with this most recent viewing, was that so much editing had been done to create the DVD that much of this banter becomes, upon careful listening, quite unintelligible. One word from one take is followed by an abrupt pause and then an isolated word spoken by an assistant from a completely different take. At first my reaction was, "Oh come on...why couldn't they get this right?" (I know, so unlike the nice, supportive, positive-thinking Erica but keep in mind I was exercising at the time.) Well, I quickly annoyed myself since in my normal clothes I am a big advocate for non-perfectionism so while continuing the workout I tried to steer my thinking and criticism in a different direction, one that ended up leading me into a series of questions that I attempted to answer while sweating profusely.
- What was the problem with those little editing blips in the DVD? Why did they bother me so much? I think they bothered me because the errors made it impossible in spots to follow any dialogue that was supposed to be going on. Classical music world parallel: Sometimes too many imperfections can take away from the musical line of a piece. It can pull the listener out of the magic of the moment and leave him feeling a bit stranded and confused.
- Why were there so many editing issues? It dawned on me that perhaps there was a great need to edit because these really in-shape women had a hard time themselves getting through the routines in a graceful manner. Perhaps, like little old me, they found themselves collapsing on the floor every few minutes, gasping for air, groping for their water bottles, and swearing passionately. In other words, perhaps they are human. When I looked at it this way my attitude was instantly transformed. It made me feel better about myself and where I was in regards to my physical stamina. Classical music world parallel: Hearing a live performance or watching a YouTube video of someone not-so-famous that actually makes mistakes always makes me breathe a sigh of relief because it brings me just a little bit closer to them. It makes me feel like we're all in the same boat together. So when I make mistakes during a performance, perhaps I can just say to myself, "Self, just think, you're making some other musician out there, amateur, student, professional, feel ok about themselves. Yay!"
- Had these blips always bothered me? No, not at all. It took about 4 or 5 months for me to even notice that something was amiss. Keeping in mind I was exercising pretty religiously for those months, that means I had watched the DVD at least 64 times before I noticed anything and it wasn't until the 100th time or so that I was actually irked. Classical music world parallel: How often do we hear the same performance 64 times? It would be difficult for me to even think of a recording that I've listened to with such regularity. And live performances? They're never the same twice. So is it really likely that a few imperfections are going to ruin someone's listening experience?
By the end of this little question and answer session with myself the exercise DVD was done and I realized that not only did I feel fantastic physically, I also felt exhilarated having pondered the whole perfectionism thing. A bit nerdy, I realize. But it was reassuring to know that it's not just musicians that deal with the issue and that find themselves having to cut and paste all over the place in a futile attempt to get a "perfect" product. I found myself wondering what the exercise coach thought to herself while watching her DVD for the first time. Was she sitting there like we musicians tend to when listening to our own recordings? Beating herself up over her minute imperfections? Probably. She is, after all, human. Just like us.
So what would I say to her if I had the chance?
"Thank you for coming up with a routine that I can actually do, that I want to do, that is making me feel better and better every day. Yeah, I noticed those funky places in the video where the dialogue is, well, interesting, but you know what? It actually makes me smile now. The most important thing to me is that I..am..exercising!!!! You did that for me. Thank you."
Hmmm...I wonder what would the classical music world parallel to that be?