I wandered in, a few minutes late by the clock on the wall. There was a lot of noise in the room as the students dropped their bags on the floor and found their places. Some of them appeared to know each other, probably from the previous course. Me, I was new and a stranger to everyone. Just the same, I was determined to try my best to make a good impression.
“Call me Pete” the instructor said. “Line up and get ready to begin.”
I got a little nervous as everyone seemed to know where to position themselves and what to do.
“Ok, start, circle round the mat. Go!” He blew the whistle and everyone started running around the expansive matting that covered the wooden floors. “Five” He shouted. Everyone turned in unison and ran in the opposite direction. I hesitated, unsure of what I was meant to be doing and just avoided crashing into the guy who had been in front and was suddenly behind me. I ran with the others feeling my heart rate jump. “One!” he shouted. Everyone dropped mid-step and placed their left hand on the floor for just a second then continued to run. “Two!” he shouted. The same action was repeated with the right hand. “Five!” He shouted. Everyone turned again and this time, I was quick enough.
By the time we stopped, I was out of breath. Pete had us do press-ups, crunches, stretches, more running and some seemingly impossible positions on the floor that I didn’t think my back was capable of performing. I was please to find I was wrong. I bent, ran, stretched and panted with all my might. When we finished, I looked at the clock. 20 minutes had passed and that was only the warm-up.
“Dear God”, I muttered. I was handed some sparring gloves and placed within arm’s reach of a chap that was about 70lbs heavier than me, if I was being generous. He was clearly not a stranger to Krispy Kreme. Pete came up to us. “You’re both new, so I’ll put you together.”
I held my breath. This guy was twice my size.
When Pete demonstrated the first move, I thought, no problem. We were meant to take turns practicing and Pete nodded approvingly at my technique. I was careful to go slow and demonstrate that I understood the manoeuvre, but didn’t put too much strength into it. My partner took his turn. He moved quickly, too quickly for a drill and planted me face first onto the mat. A clumsy slap to the front of my neck left me gasping. He could kill someone with his carelessness, I thought.
Pete, having praised me for my balance a moment before, was helping me up. When he was reassured that I was ok, he had words with the other guy.
Two weeks later, having skipped a class waiting for the bruises to clear up, I returned. I found out that my sparring partner of that day dropped the class when an advanced student dropped him to the floor. He had tried to be rough with the wrong person and this time, Pete had not stopped it.
It’s funny. Whenever I walk into a new learning environment, I accept that there are going to be people in there that know more than me or show better aptitude. In the end, we’re all there to learn and to cooperate, not show off. Teamwork should be the order of the day.
So, have you ever felt like a prize idiot on the first day of class? Have you been befriended, felt isolated, excelled when you didn’t expect it, in short, describe a memorable 1st day at anything.
Writing Prompt: The First Day of Class