You and I have always known each other in some capacity or another. As a child, I loved to run and jump and climb and ride my bike and swim in the pool on a hot summer day. Through my years in school I played a variety of different sports. You were there for me in ballet, soccer, basketball, volleyball, and tennis. In the winter when I skied, you reminded me what the burn in my quads felt like. Movement was expected, and youth made it second nature. I didn’t know then how much you’d come to mean to me in the coming years, though. I took you for granted.
At age 24, raising two small children as a stay at home mom, I was still an active human. Every day I’d walk, or run, or do yoga…in the summers, I played on a league tennis team, in the winter I’d lug my kids up the sledding hill or hit those familiar slopes every now and then. You stayed committed to me, offering your generosity in the form of play, releasing those tasty hormones in my brain. Let’s be honest though, I still wasn’t giving credit where credit was due.
One fateful day, I came across a random Instagram page of a young, vibrant, motivated fitness trainer from Australia. She posted transformation photos along with testimonials unlike any I had ever seen or read before. My initial response, after pure shock and awe, was “clearly this is too good to be true. There’s no way people are getting those results and feeling that marvelously wonderful about themselves from only 28 minutes a day.” I was supremely skeptical, yet captivated. I decided to follow along, keep watching, and see for myself if this phenomena was for real. Fitness, I doubted you at first. After paying attention for a few months longer, I decided to give you a try.
I struggle with anxiety, as you know, and had been running to keep it at bay. Postpartum depression wasn’t my brand. No, my wacked-out joy ride was in the form of gut twisting, heart racing, head spinning anxiety. Running was like my “get out of jail free” card, and for a short while each morning, I found myself sluffing off the angst that plagued me with each foot fall to the ground. When I ordered that program, from the guru herself, Kayla Itsines, I really had no idea what I was getting into. I remember the first workout I did like it was yesterday. It was titled “Week 1 & 3, Legs and Cardio.” I set my timer and went for it, thinking I’d probably do quite well since I’d been running for some time by then, and was in decent shape. Well, 28 minutes later, I was dripping with more sweat than I had ever released from my body in one sitting and laughing out loud at my pure naivete. I, it turns out, was definitely NOT in decent shape. I had grossly underestimated what that 28 minutes would do to me. Upon finishing it, I was absolutely exhausted and completely elated. Fitness, you had leveled up, and in that instant, I was all in, hook, line, and sinker.
My self esteem, my energy, the clarity of my outlook, and the example I set for my children improves the more committed I stay to you.
Today, I am 32, nearly 33, and Fitness, you have changed my life. No, really, I mean this. I have watched my body and my spirit, as well as my relationships and my priorities transform. The growth I’ve walked through, the resilience I’ve developed, the connections I have made and walked away from…all started with you. My anxious moments can be quieted by you faster than by anything else. My healthy food choices are ensured because you have shown me what taking care of the body I’m inhabiting can do for me. The most powerful adult connection of my entire life came from you, Fitness. Without you, I would have never met the amazing woman that writes this blog with me. My self esteem, my energy, the clarity of my outlook, and the example I set for my children improves the more committed I stay to you. Thank you. Fitness, you are a spiritual practice for me. I preach your message to anyone who will listen. The relationship you offer is stable, you are loyal and I can count on you every time. You have never let me down. I wish this for everyone…each human should know you, intimately.
But sometimes, Fitness, what you have to offer gets twisted by words, images, and messages alike. Sometimes the narrative people hear or see when they get introduced to you is that you’re trendy, you’re elitist, you’re cult-ish. Humans are told they need you to look good. Humans are told they should try you out to lose weight. Humans are told they need to be competitive to take part in what you have to offer. Humans are told that you will hurt. Humans are told that you are a hardass. Oh how it breaks my heart what humans are missing.
I want to change the narrative about you, Fitness. I want to tell humans you have medicinal properties. I want to tell them the ache in their heart can be salved, little by little, by allowing you into their lives. I want to tell humans how you can offer them joy and peace; that movement releases serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins in their brain chemistry, instantly lightening their mood, and allowing a smile to grace their faces. I want to tell humans about the connection you offer them, and the ways you build bridges over waters they didn’t even know they needed to cross. I want to tell humans the spring you bring to their step, the energy you ignite within them, and the endless supply of vigor that you help them access. I want humans to know that you, like them, do not come in a box, but instead in many forms, across many landscapes, and can be discovered even in a single room of their home. Oh Fitness, if everyone could know you, they too would be equal parts undone and rebuilt, know themselves in a brand new way, and feel the solid ground beneath their feet.
So I won’t encourage others to know you so they can lose weight, or look a certain way, or be a part of some group. No, I will not spread your message in the way that distorts it. Instead, I will be a helping hand to you by being a helping hand to those just beginning or well into their journey with you. I will shine light on the gift I get to unwrap every single day when we meet, how it magnifies my strengths, gently shines light on my weaknesses, and nudges me to grow. A gift like that, after all, is meant to be shared.
With love and appreciation,