Tag Archives: Yoga

That Isn’t Too Heavy For You?*

*(And other things I hear while lifting weights at a gym in France)

Since I’ve arrived my teacher contact has been taking me with her to her gym in Dreux. It’s a tiny two room gym with a weightlifting section, two treadmills, two bikes, one rowing machine, and one or two ellipticals. In the second room is a wide open space where they hold classes.

To give you guys a little bit of a background I lift weights *at least* once a week and have been doing so for over a year. And when I say lift weights I don’t mean the little 2-5 pound weights. I’m talking about thirty to a couple hundred pounds depending on the exercise/machine. That plus I’m a yoga instructor so I’m no stranger to fitness. (I promise I’m not trying to brag haha I just feel a little defensive as a girl in a gym where there aren’t really other girls who lift)


The first day my teacher brought me to a Body Pump class (which exists in English too, you can check it out here) It’s basically a high rep class that uses a bar with weights and you hit every part of the body with squats, lunges, deadlifts, bench presses, tricep dips, abs, etc etc.

My first day was a little confusing just because it took me a little while to get used to the vocabulary. (Add more weight, take weight off, release, etc)

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But at the end of the class we did “stretching” and well… I stretched like a proper yogi.

I swear this is absolutely normal for me/isn’t something I consider to be extreme or strenuous at all. I don’t get much of a stretch if I don’t go down this far haha

But then it was great because while everyone was freaking out about my extreme stretching thinking I was about to hurt myself… I got to speak to them in French and tell them I was a yoga instructor.

Then the next time I went there a couple days later for a crossfit class. I’d never done crossfit in my life before, but I walked into the class and the coach loaded up my bar for me. And the great thing is he didn’t go easy, he put easily twice as much weight on my bar as any other girl in the room.

And that’s pretty much when I knew I’d be sticking with this gym.

It was honestly the best thing ever because as a girl who lifts weights, sometimes guys just tend to underestimate you/look down on you and think you can’t actually lift. And considering that culturally in France girls are even LESS likely to lift weights/do sports I was pleasantly surprised by how welcoming the people in the gym were!

That doesn’t mean I haven’t had my fair share of strange incidents. I think everyone knows that there’s a redhead American at the gym now so they all come to talk to me while I’m working out. (As in like in the middle of my leg press reps…) And maybe it’s just the culture at this particular gym, but when someone new walks in they shake hands with every single person they pass (without introducing themselves sometimes awkwardly enough) I think I prefer the head nod culture in the states.

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Voila. All the interaction you get at a gym in the US. 

Whereas in France you do “La Bise”

This is what it’s supposed to look like:

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Oh and don’t forget to make a kiss noise for each cheek

Except you go down the line and do this with EVERY SINGLE PERSON. And when I’m at the gym sometimes I feel like this:

I’m sweaty! You don’t want my cheek sweat, I don’t want your cheek sweat!

But regardless of odd introductions:

Just last week a guy told me:

“Oh you’re flexible, but you’re not that strong.”

Pretty much my exact reaction right here

I straight up told him: “That’s an insult. You insulted me.”

Him: “No! I said you’re flexible! You know the word flexible! Like elastic!”

Me: “Yes. I understand your French. But it was the stuff you said after that.”

Him: “Oh yeah, you’re not strong. That’s not an insult!”

Me: (fuming) “Uh, yes it is.”

But the bright side is I told the coach about what he said and he told everyone in the gym and they all thought it was an insult too. So at least its not a cultural thing! There are jerks everywhere I suppose.

The main reason I’m writing a blog post on my gym though is because I’ve started teaching yoga there! In FRENCH!

First time I’ve ever taught a class with more guys than girls… but it IS after Crossfit!

It’s been a little crazy, but it’s been going super well. I’m grateful for everyone at the gym for dealing with my eternal American accent when speaking French!

But yeah. So the gym has turned into my social life haha I go every day I can. Everyone there knows me and tries to talk to me (insults or not haha) and at the very least the Coach who teaches all the classes respects me haha.

Yoga in Paris?

When Sweet Briar, the program that I’m studying abroad with, told us that the Sorbonne offered free sports classes for students, I thought, cool, and decided to casually glance over the list later. But then when I saw that list contained a whole section dedicated to Yoga, I almost did a feathered peacock pose right there! (Just kidding guys I can’t do arm-stands I’m not that good)

I went to my required medical visit twice, (the first time they had apparently “lost” my appointment time or something) so that the doctor could sign a sheet of paper saying I was physically fit enough to do yoga. Then I waited in a long line at school and snagged the last spot in the last beginner class of yoga left!


It also happened to be the exact same day so I ran home and changed into my yoga pants before heading back for the class.

We started the class off with savasana

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Which is extremely important for concentrating on breathing and releasing tension. I’m used to finishing my yoga class with savasana, but I figured yoga would be a little different here anyways. But then we didn’t move.

We didn’t move for a very long time.

Definitely still focusing on breathing


30 minutes into my yoga class and I was already falling asleep! Which I guess is good if you’re practicing yoga mainly to relax, but I’m used to a more active, intense form of yoga called vinyasa so after we did 2 sun salutations and the class ended I decided to change to the more advanced class.

Yoga and Drill Sergeant are two words that should never ever go together and yet they did. No relaxing smiling personality, only a permanent scowl and a penchant for yelling at the class.

“No looking at other people” she would say. “I describe everything you need to do so you don’t even need to have your eyes open!”

Yeah uh huh and how does that work if you don’t know yoga vocabulary in French?

But thankfully even though the languages changes, the positions do not, so I was able to follow along pretty well since I had already done them before!


It wasn’t very relaxing, but it was great in terms of what I wanted for a yoga class. Lots of deep stretches and flowing through poses like I’m used to. I might even be sore tomorrow!

The only bad thing was that she let the class out half an hour late…

And I missed my lecture class because it would have taken me 45 minutes to get to the classroom on the other side of Paris and you do not walk into a class in France 15 minutes late.

Yeah, Namaste to you too professor.
Yeah thanks,  Namaste to you too professor.

So tomorrow I’ll go back to the sports office at the Sorbonne and see if I can change back to the easy yoga class, because I can’t keep missing my lectures. Also Drill Sergeant Yoga lady would probably tell me to stop taking her class if I asked to get out on time. She was that mean. But I doubt that there will be any remaining spots in the class 😦

I guess I’ll just have to do my vinyasa on Youtube!

Because a picture of me like this in front of the Eiffel Tower is now on the bucket list.


I won’t be completely giving up on yoga in Paris though. I’ve heard of some free classes around the city so I’ll have to check them out and blog about them in the future!

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