1. The Resolution Keeper
It’s mid-March and most people have ditched their gym memberships and resigned themselves to another year of middling vivacity, but not the Resolution Keeper. She walks into class with a bouncy strut, toes pointing outward, and unfurls her mat with a bold flourish. Months of blind adherence to a workout routine have caused her to accidentally overdevelop the trapezius muscles at the back of her neck and the soleus muscles at the back of her calves. In other words, the strange new proportions of her body do not correspond to any natural physical activity. Nonetheless she glows with the confidence of someone who is witnessing the steady progression of musculature on her own body.
She wears expensive work-out gear that have been thoroughly vetted by fitness industry experts and positively reviewed by chatty online shoppers. There is always just an artful streak of pink in the design, a nod to femininity.
2. The Frail Girl
No matter how hot the yoga studio gets, Frail Girl always shrouds her fragile figure in loose-fitting pants and long-sleeved shirts. She arrives early and silently sets up her mat in the very front of the class, one of her thematic life struggles being that she seeks attention as much as she wants to disappear. A packet of tissues and an extra sweatshirt sit at the northwest corner of her yoga mat, a turquoise butterfly tattoo peaks out from above the waistline of her oversized pants, a souvenir from more buoyant times.
She assumes each pose with grim submission, like a seasoned flight attendant buckling herself into her pull-down seat, expressionless and automatic. Yet Frail Girl is by far the most advanced of all the students; she can bend in any direction and end up with her head touching her feet.
3. The Silver Fox
He is in his forties or older and his socks are made of llama. Slim, agile, well-read, and philosophic about food, his clothes are threadbare and he sips cold barley tea from an old maroon thermos. He carries himself in the class like a shepherd, politely herding other students slightly, just slightly up a bit, so we can fit another person in this row, thanks kindly. When he talks to you, maintaining an ungodly level of steady eye contact, expect to be touched at least once on the shoulder or the small of the back. He is single, maybe Buddhist. He arrives early to do some advanced poses quietly by himself, and if you should accidentally catch his eye, he will calmly hold your gaze from his tortured position as his face turns beet red and his body quakes with exertion. It is a little bit revolting.
During class, when the teacher says “exhale,” and everyone quietly lets out a gentle plume of their airy self, too self-conscious to be audible to the mat next over, Silver Fox will expel a terrible slew of orgasmic groans, causing Frail Girl to screw her eyes tightly shut and pray for it to be over. Mistaking this attention for something else, Silver Fox will hit on Frail Girl at the end of class one night, his hand cupping the turquoise butterfly at the small of her back.
4. The Jessica Alba
People can’t help but pay attention when Jessica Alba walks into class with her long, slim, lightly-bronzed lo mein limbs, shiny hair, and magazine-pretty face radiating youthfulness, health, and fortune. A perfect specimen of girlhood, she is not that great at yoga and unlike Resolution Keeper, doesn’t actually work out very much. She is very vocal about “chugging as much water as possible” but as befitting of her effortless life, this simply amounts to carrying a bottle of Evian with her wherever she goes.
Resolution Keeper is always casting sidelong glances at Jessica Alba, studying her with curiosity that sometimes flips over into hostility when Resolution Keeper is having a bad day and feels like she is getting further and further away from her goal which is, of course, to be another Jessica Alba. Relying on the rumoured allure of seniority, Silver Fox catches up to Jessica Alba one day as she’s walking out of class, clasping his long fingers gently around her upper arm and saying her name with an unnecessary inflection the way some people say “ka-rah-tay” instead of “ka-rah-tee.” When she turns to look at him, he is thrown off by the fact that she obviously does not recognize him from the class that they just had together not more than three minutes ago. “Have a good night,” he mutters instead of what he had been planning to say.
5. The Platonic Couple
In the quiet before a class, the only talking that can be heard comes from the Platonic Couple, a pair of friends who have decided to take yoga together. Having a friend in the class emboldens them to speak louder than is required, and everyone is forced to quietly digest their news of a feverish husband or a fraying athletic sock. Every effort is made to place their mats beside each other, even if that means asking Frail Girl to move her mat and all its attendants –the tissues and the extra clothing– a few feet over. During class, when a pose is really hard, they will either shake their heads and raise their eyebrows at each other with a jovial “what the fuck”-ness or, they will rise to the challenge of the position, clenching their teeth through the tremor of their muscles, and sneak undetected peeks at each other. In the latter scenario, a moment of sheer competitive loathing will pass secretly and unacknowledged between them.
One day after class Resolution Keeper accidentally took one of the Platonic Couple’s shoes as her own and this interaction developed into the three of them sitting over drinks at the bar next door.
“The perfect way to end a yoga class,” Resolution Keeper says as she raises her beer glass in a toast. She was beginning to suspect that perhaps she had made the wrong resolutions. This beer is her first unplanned alcoholic drink of the new year.
She takes a big gulp.
The fact of the beer, rather than its alcohol content, unhinges her a little. She raises her glass again to make a second toast, taking time to rummage herself for something good to say. Noticing that Resolution Keeper was dissolving in front of their very eyes, the Platonic Couple shoot alarmed looks back and forth at each other until one of them points to the front window of the bar and says, “Isn’t that Frail Girl and Silver Fox?”
The three of them watch in silence as Silver Fox guides Frail Girl into his car, then climbs into the driver’s side, folding his long limbs into his compact vehicle. He turns the key in the ignition, and the headlights of his car open their eyes.
Jessica Alba is nowhere to be seen.