Charlotte's Web

Blogging my world since 2006

Not Sure How to Take This


I went to a fitness class today and the instructor … called me something. He was smiling as he said it, and after I said “Danke schön” in a slightly offended tone, he quickly said he really, really likes the thing he called me. In my time, I have liked them too, but I grew tired of them because they are:

  • Bouncy (excessively)
  • Cute (tiresomely)
  • Colourful (eye-achingly)
  • Round (disconcertingly)
  • Entertaining (but only if you are under three)

Now if I were thinner-skinned than I am, this statement would be the death-knell on my gym attendance. I would imagine that everyone was looking at me, thinking, or worse still (and since this is Germany, Land of the Frank Statement), SAYING ALOUD, “There goes the …”. I would not be able to put my round, bouncy, cute and colourful foot back inside the place.

Instead, I am going back. Damn, I am. I’m going right back there, possibly even tomorrow. I’m not letting a Germanic mind-burp stop me.

Do want to know what my fitness instructor called me? My buff, handsome, and usually very kind fitness instructor said to me in the middle of class while I was bouncing away happily doing “step, together, Arme hoch”?

You do, don’t you?

You want me to say it, even though it hurts me and strips away my dignity?

I thought so.

He called me … deep breath … A TELETUBBY!

All I can say is thank God he was not using a microphone.

Author: charlotteotter

Novelist, feminist, crime writer

32 thoughts on “Not Sure How to Take This

  1. Ha ha aha ahhahahahaha. No, stop, my ribs hurt. Hooo.

    I mean: what a terrible thing to say. It’s a good thing you have the confidence to rise above comments like that.


  2. I seriously would have karate chopped him in the knees!!! How incredibly insensitive…. some people are just plain dumb.

    Personally, I visualise you as a tall (well taller than me), fair haired, lightly tanned, elegant, sophisticated woman. And in my head, the instructor looks like George from Seinfeld.

    George when he is being really really pathetic…..Go get’em girly!

  3. My aerobics instructor refers to the thighs as “The Teletubbies” sometimes. As in, “this is going to work your Teletubbies.”

    It’s in Spanish, of course, so it rhymes with “Boobies.”

    And I will concur that offensive statements are an eminently cultural phenomenon. Kudos for you for recognizing and accepting that he probably had no idea how offensive the comment was.

  4. Which of the teletubbies would you rather be? I was picturing you as the tall purple one shepherding the three short ones, but I just read (to back up my comment) that the purple one is called Tinky Winky (not good) and is male (not good). They do not say on Wikipedia how you can tell male and female teletubbies apart, though.

  5. Oh no – I’d guessed it from your masterly summing up of their quintessential qualities and I’m sure you have never ever had an aerial on your head…. it says much for your determination/new found gym addiction that you are going back – the land of the frank statement must be challenging at times, not like here where we can sometimes talk around a subject so elusively that afterwards you are not sure whether you were both talking about the same thing.

  6. Goodness gracious! Well, I suppose fitness instructors aren’t hired for their tact. I’m sure he was just trying to be nice, but really, that just wasn’t too smart. Or he was trying to hit on you, and very bad at it.

  7. At lunch, my family decided I am Po – the small, pink, extra-cute one.

  8. My mother must have some German in her. She would say that and then wonder why in the world I was overreacting! Seriously I love her frankness…but sometimes it’s just better to think and NOT speak.

    Silly instructor.

  9. What? Seriously, that’s crazy. I’ve seen your photo and you look nothing like a Teletubby. Egads.

    You need to come up with some unflattering nickname for him…

  10. Hi Po…….

    Sorry, couldn’t resist! I have to laugh even as I froth at the mouth at the same time…… I HATE the teletubbies and my small children LOVE them, so my mother-in-law from England sent us 4 small ones for Christmas last year. They’re in my house!…. I think your fitness instructor, who can’t have been in charm school EVER, was beyond rude (what girl wants to be called a teletubby???) and he should be forced to listen to the teletubby show for a whole day, like we with small children all have. Damn, as I write this, i can hear the dratted theme song AGAIN in my head. Did I mention I hate the teletubbies? And they’re freaky from space (the new Dr Who even made a reference to them, clever show!)…..ok, there is no way there is any compliment in what your instructor said to you! I think revenge is called for……I don’t suppose you have a Mr Bean movie do you? I think if you brought that to him and said he was like Mr Bean, he might get the hint!!!
    Meantime, you are way too brilliant a writer to be a teletubby, and you speak coherent English, which is better than the tubbies too. I haven’t seen your photo, but certainly don’t think of you as one! Yikes! It is late at night here, I just had a vision of the teletubbies in a fitness class….oh no, now I’m laughing…..damn your instructor!

  11. Thank you, all you nice kind people!

    Here’s my family’s theory:

    Long ponytail + Bouncy, enthusiastic aerobics style = Tellytubby

  12. I *LIKE* the Tellytubbies! There is something exuberant and innocent and playful and … well … so cute and small … about them. And in that sense I think it is a huge compliment!

    Keep bouncing and smiling, Charlotte!

  13. Po – isn’t that the German equivalent of ‘bum’? Somethings are just funnier in German, but mostly not.

    I think you are on the right track with this – remember revenge is a dish best served cold, with a side order of salad.

    Revenge, as you say in your post is to reaffirm your love of the gym and use the instructor’s momentary lapse in sanity as added motivation during your workout.

  14. Well Charlotte, I would have packed my bag, waved him “bye bye”, immediately reported him to management and insisted on a 3 month free subscription to compensate for the severe damage he caused to my fragile soul. He won’t do that “again, again”!

    But very well done for keeping your cool!

  15. My dearest Charl… so sorry!…. I shall respond telephonically in the appropriate adult manner… once I have picked myself up off the floor (rotfl)… I have that theme song in my head… “Tinky Winky… Dipsy… La La…. and PO… teletubbies… teletubbies…” it COULD make a good tune for aerobics?! XXX chat soon!

  16. You are not a teletubby! You are my vastly intelligent literary friend breaking out into the world of exercise with enthusiasm.

    Down with the fitness instructor!

    You do wear a lot of pink though!

    P.S. I had a huge giggle at your expense.

  17. That comment has completely baffled me. How can anyone liken a lithe graceful being like you to a telletubby? He was surely being ironic. But how did he say it? Just blurted it out, or did he build up to it with a smirk..? Der Ton macht die Musik, oder? Please elaborate.. 😉

  18. I had been thinking about my experience in yoga class this evening. I struggled throughout trying to maintain every single balance pose, breaking a sweat trying to do so, determined to twist myself into unnatural postions without falling on my face or my arse. At the end of class, my doctor — who just happened to show up at the same class for the first time this evening — said to me that he did ‘power yoga’. “You know”, he said, “the kind where you break a sweat instead of this contemplative stuff”. I wonder if he thought my hair was wet from the rain an hour before? But, I can laugh at it now because at least he didn’t call me a teletubby!!!

  19. this is an afterthought… just wanted to let you know that the Teletubbies ACTUALLY did do a FITNESS video… kinda like aerobics… for kids! Google it! 🙂

  20. ha!!! please pass me the name of the gyn so i can be sure not to join it. with my luck, he’d be calling me Barney.

  21. okay, here’s a fitness instructor who instead of being motivating is insensitive to the point where you have to talk yourself into going back. No matter how fit the guy is I wonder how good an instructor he is. I agree with lulusby. hy-ya! Oh, and for stuff like that it’s okay to go below the belt.

  22. Yup, I’d sue. Though Po can be seen as a presenter on Cbeebies these days. In reality, she’s small, Chinese (Po’s teletubby language frequently drew on Mandarin and Tai Chi moves, apparently) and looks like she works out.

  23. Ah yes, stick with the family theory if it works. Really it’s difficult to know what else to say except that this was mildly breathtaking, especially when I recall the photos you’ve occasionally posted up here of yourself: definitely NOT a teletubby!

    Be ready with something equivalent to aim back at him at an unexpected moment…

  24. jaw.,….floor…..

    I would have asked which one….

  25. I’ve seen your photos, thanks to facebook. You look nothing like a teletubby. Ridiculous. Forget it. We all say the wrong things sometimes meaning them as a complement. You are gorgeous.

  26. I used to use the teletubbies in a lecture about Julia Kristeva and language acquisition in children. Teletubbies perform the moment when the undifferentiated flow of sound starts to separate out into discrete blocks ‘eh-oh’ for ‘hello’ and so on. So teletubbies are tremendously important aids to child development. I’m sure that’s what he really meant to say – that you are a tremendously important aid to child developement. And what was the name of that hoover thing they lived with? You could refer to him as Noo-noo from now on, perhaps…?

  27. Oh Charlotte, that’s just such a wonderful story. Tellytubby indeed. My favorite thing was trying to guess what he called you. I must say, THAT didn’t immediately come to mind. I’m going to splash out here and hypothesize that he was actually thinking something quite different and blurted this out because the other thing he was thinking was even less acceptable. Which should not make you feel better, exactly, but just confirm that we don’t actually always want to know what’s in the heads of our exercise instructors.

  28. Oh my goodness! I would put in a FORMAL COMPLAINT! I’m sure he looks more like a Teletubby than you do.

    Heh, you know what, reading Susan’s comment I remembered that when I was teaching English, on more than one occasion a student said that I reminded them of Mr Bean. I am serious, and not only is Mr Bean Mr Bean, he’s a MAN! I never quite knew how to take that but I certainly didn’t take it as compliment! Mr Bean indeed.

    I’m so glad Kiko isn’t interested in TV – the Teletubbies do my head in.

  29. There is no way to think of this as a compliment…doubtful he will come up with that one again…silly man…

  30. OMG, does this man have no concept of self-preservation?! Very gracious of you to leave him the use of his limbs!! Men…

  31. Pingback: Project Thin, Grey Novelist « Charlotte’s Web

  32. Well… that’s amazing but honestly i have a hard time determining it… wonder how others think about this..

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s