I’m a yoga teacher and I’m an asshole

Published on July 30, 2013 by      Print
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By Emelia Symington Fedy

I’m also nine months pregnant, busting at the seams, so I decide to go swim some laps.

I pride myself on being a good swimmer; in fact, you can normally find me in the fast lane. I huff and puff more than the hairless men, but because of my abnormally huge competitive spirit, I can usually keep up.

At the moment, though, I have not done any exercise since I found out I was pregnant, and most of the weight I have gained is not from the baby. So, in a last minute ditch attempt to feel good about myself before I teach a yoga class, I head to the pool.

I start my laps in the medium lane, because it’s been awhile.

I get into the flow. Like when I practice yoga regularly, my brain starts to soften; I begin to feel weightless and free.

I notice a man zigzagging in the lane in front of me. A few laps later, he’s on my ass, grabbing at my toes. What the fuck?

When we get to the wall he says, “You should be in the slow lane lady.”

I pause.

“No I shouldn’t. I’m going a medium speed in the medium lane, and if you have a problem, move to the fast lane.”

To prove my point, I dive in front of him and swim strong and hard so he can’t catch up. I see him a few minutes later though, and this time his voice is louder. “Lady, get in the slow lane. You are a bad swimmer.” He talks haltingly and deep.

“I’m a bad swimmer?” I sputter, “You’re the bad swimmer! You’re zigzagging around like you are drunk!”

“No I’m not!” He yells back. “I can swim faster than anyone in this pool.”

I start laughing now, because who talks like that?

He goes on “I’m even faster than the lifeguards!”

“You are NOT faster than the lifeguards. No one is faster than the lifeguards. Stop bugging me.”

“You suck, lady! You are a really sucky, shitty swimmer!”

I hear the tone and cadence of his voice. I notice the group of friends he is in the pool with and his social worker and it dawns on me…Oh…this man is mentally challenged.

Okay, well, that changes everything.

I start to ignore him and continue to swim, but now he is chasing me and gaining. Every time I take a breath I look back and he is on my tail.

“I had the lifeguards time me and I’m the fastest in the entire pool!” he bellows.

“I’m swimming faster than you right now!”  I yell back myself.

“Get in the slow lane, fat lady.”

“I’m not fat, I’m fucking pregnant. I’m a very proficient swimmer and…”

“You are the worst swimmer in the world…”

We are goggles to goggles now.

“Do ya wanna have a race?”

Time stops. I contemplate what this looks like from the outside.

The lifeguard gets between us.

“Ma’am, I’m going to have to ask you to move to the slow lane.”


“I’m sorry, but you are not swimming fast enough to be in the medium lane right now.”

“You have got to be kidding me,” I heave. “This man is goading me. He said he was a better swimmer than all the lifeguards in the pool. Are you going to let him get away with that?”

“Ma’am, I’m sorry but I’m going to have to ask you to take a break.”

I get up out slowly. I am pulsing with anger. The man is laughing.

“You suck, fatso!” he calls out.

“No, you suck, fatso!” I yell back.

“Get out of the way, you moron!” he yells.

“You’re the moron,” I sputter back.

I waddle into the change room to cool down.

I sit on the benches and deep breathe.

I see the imaginary score board in front of me:



Mentally Delayed Man -10

And then I head out to teach my yoga class.

Emelia Symington FedyAbout Emelia Symington Fedy

Emelia Symington Fedy writes for the popular and offbeat website www.tryingtobegood.com.

She has also recently started and advice column, so send her your burning questions (emelia@tryingtobegood.com) and she’ll tell you what not to do.





Filed under: Boundaries and Tagged:


  1. Bob says:

    Now that’s just rich in self bichousness but glad you noticed the score.

  2. missmissyg says:

    LOL! Omg I love you! So so much!! It’s like you’re my bff that I’ve never had the chance to meet in person. Please do not ever stop writing OR getting in rows with mentally challenged adults that clearly suck at swimming!!!

  3. Travis says:

    Hilarious! Thank you for brightening my afternoon:).

  4. Clare says:

    laughed out fucking loud!! the only thing better than reading this, would be you telling me the story in person! thanks Em, I needed a big laugh – day 2 in Edinburgh. x x

  5. Carolyn says:

    LOVED IT. Looking forward to checking out your website. Thanks for the laugh XO

  6. Lucia Frangione says:

    OMG I adore you. This made me laugh so hard. Goggles to goggles!

  7. sheri says:

    god, I love the honesty! that made me laugh out loud.

  8. Markus says:

    Ha ha,

    that’s what happens when two political incorrect people meet each other.
    Great post.

  9. Jade says:

    Haha! This is amazing and is also why I only swim on holiday!

    Ev the privilege of since having the dubious privilege of swimming next to a learner whose instructor was telling them to “splash! Splash! Splash as much as you can!” I decided to only swim in the sea.

    Can’t believe he called you fat! Reminds me of that scene in sex and the city when someone calls Miranda fat and her girls rally around her and say “she’s not fat! She just had a baby. What’s your excuse?”

    In other news, yoga teachers are human? *gasp*

    And congratulations on your impending mamma-hood!

  10. I’m a Yoga Teacher and I’m an Asshole | Trying to be Good says:

    [...] I CANNOT believe this happened. [...]

  11. Baer Charlton, WR1T3R says:

    You climbed all the way down to his level…..

    and he handed you your ass.

    I am so proud of you. You must have taught a totally kick ass class that day.

    Wait till you get a rematch…. LOL

  12. Isabel Remus says:


  13. Maynard says:

    This reminds of the joke about winning the gold medal at the speciall olympics.

  14. kathy hirsh says:

    laughed so hard I then had to lie to my kids about why I was laughing & yell at them not to read over my shoulder. as a former competitive swimmer AND yoga instructor, your story totally resonated with me. it was refreshing to read someone detailing their totally “un-zen” moment. I have moments like that. . .daily. thanks for giving me a laugh

  15. kate says:

    LMAO. All of it. Amazing

  16. Jason Williams says:

    There is nothing negative in a Yoga practice that you do not bring there yourself…what are you recovering from?? All I see is someone retreating from a noble practice for superficial reasons. Come to Bikram’s Yoga College of India, San Diego, with Jim Kallett Tuesday 6:30pm and we’ll see how long your abnormally huge ego and screw loose mind holds up to the heat…that’s not a challenge, it’s a life line.


  17. Lauren says:

    As someone who works with people with special needs, I just want to say THANK YOU for treating this man like a human and giving honest, natural responses to his inappropriate and rude comments. SERIOUSLY. Far too often people “excuse” individuals with disabilities for poor or inappropriate behaviors (like the comments you described above) which does nothing to help those individuals in learning to act more appropriately (and therefore be more openly welcomed and accepted) within their communities.

    You are not an asshole. You were honest, and he was definitely being inappropriate. Authenticity FTW!

  18. Jonathan says:

    Fucking ‘tards – what can you do.

  19. Donna Torney says:

    We may have been separated at birth… you should have seen me before I found yoga and mindfulness…

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