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Do I have fitness performance anxiety?

someecards.com - That's the last time I go

Well, it happened again last week. I took a wonderful class at the schwanky Exhlale Spa in Miami and halfway through I felt that old feeling, which I described in the post: Pei Wei and Zumba: A Cautionary Tale.

That time I chalked up the "bottom dropping out" feeling to working out really hard immediately after eating. 

This wasn't the case this time -- I had eaten Greek yogurt mixed with oats and walnuts. Not too big, not too small. 

Last week's barre class wasn't high impact but it was pretty high intensity. Plus the class was full and it took place in a very sunny, slightly warm room filled with young, fit and experienced exercisers -- and me. And once again I felt the need to keep up with everyone. I was wearing the wrong socks (you need grippy socks and I was wearing running socks), I was probably dressed a little too warmly (long yoga pants and a black T-shirt made me a solar collector in that window-filled room), I was dripping sweat, and I frankly felt like a big ol' fish out of water (emphasis on BIG and OLD).

So I was doing my best, which wasn't good enough for perfectionist me. I pushed and pushed and 30 minutes in, it hit me again -- woozy, nauseous, light-headed and wobbly.

I smilingly gathered my stuff, left the workout room and headed to the hotel's gym, where I guzzled down cup after cup of water, put my head between between my legs and thought to myself "Don't puke, don't pass out, don't puke, don't pass out."

And I didn't. I walked back to my car but first stopped at a drugstore for a protein bar and a big container of coconut water, which I drank on the drive home.

Did I mention that the same thing happened to me around this time last year in another group fitness setting? Well, yeah, but that time I put on a show for some people, projectile vomiting and ending with a knee-buckling pass-out, which I had never done in my life.

Thankfully the fitness event was at a public beach and a bevy of lifeguards rushed over with water and ice. After drinking about a half gallon of water and being ice-packed all over, I felt just fine, if not supremely embarrassed.

After I got back home (it was an out-of-town gig), I made sure I saw the doctor, who signed me up for an echo stress test, which I passed with flying colors (seriously -- even the techs said I did super well for someone my, ahem, age and size). The results sheet even said "good exercise tolerance."

My doc's diagnosis -- syncope (fancy word for fainting). It's a temporary loss of consciousness due to the sudden decline of blood flow to the brain.

It can also "almost happen." I'll let Alexandra and Kymberly from the wonderful blog Fun and Fit explain:

 Pre-syncope is when you have signs that you’re about to faint, but manage to recover before fainting occurs.

I found their blog post after I got back from Miami last week. It was just the thing I needed to read to slap some sense into me, and give me perhaps another clue.

I had all the same variables that I had the other two times: overexercising, dehydration (oh, the sweat!), overheating. But the one variable I didn't think about until recently -- stress and anxiety -- made me think that I have an issue with "playing with others." 

I can jog in 90-degree heat, I can Zumba with friends (I'm the one in the white shirt and purple headband in this video from last year's Fitbloggin'), I can do a Hip-Hop Abs or TurboFire DVD in the comfort of my home -- all without passing out or even feeling like I'm going to.

Only time this happens is when I'm in a big class of skinny strangers.

So here's where we all get to play armchair exercise psychologist:

Is "performance anxiety" that one piece that sets my Jenga tower of fitness toppling over?