As many of you know, I run a small outdoor group-fitness class a couple of mornings per week here in Boston (If you’re local, come join us! Click HERE for more info). This is my first summer doing this, and I must say that I absolutely love it. I can’t think of anything else besides November Project that has ever had me excited to get up at 5:15 am on a regular basis, but this has done it. I’m so happy I decided to go ahead and pursue this thing that I’ve been thinking about and talking about for so long — and I’m glad it’s working out so well! My post today is inspired by my class, but not in the way that you might think. You see, today’s post is not necessarily inspired by the kick ass women who show up on Tuesday and Thursday mornings ready to sweat with me (and they are all truly kick-ass women, trust me!). No, today’s post is inspired by a few words that almost all of them, without fail, have said to me when they show up on their first day:
“I’m really out of shape” … or some form of this phase.
It’s as if they think that they’re being judged before they’ve started, and they have to preemptively let me know not to expect too much from them.
But you know what? I do expect a lot from them. I expect them to try, I expect them to be positive, and I expect them to push through whatever it is they’re dealing with that day to treat their body’s with the love and respect it deserves. Even if it’s only 45 minutes out of their day, that is their time. And I know for some it is their only time in the day, as many are mothers of young children, some with extremely demanding careers.
I expect them to do their very best at whatever it is I’m asking them to do, even if they don’t do it perfectly. I expect them to treat themselves with respect, acknowledging that they chose to get up and be there at 6:30 am, and that shows some true motivation. I expect them to love the place that they are in with their body, and to know that we work out to help ourselves, not to beat ourselves up.
What do I not expect? I don’t expect people to come and breeze through the workouts, because what’s the point in that? I don’t expect everyone to do everything with a smile on their face, I just want them to smile when it’s over, knowing that they just did something good for themselves.
The thing is though, I think that as women, we do this to ourselves a lot. At work we might say “This might be a dumb idea but…”, or “You probably already thought of this but…”. When this happens in the in the office, preemptively striking down your own ideas decreases the efficacy of whatever your following statement is, and I’d wager that it also tends to decrease your belief in your own ideas. So wouldn’t the same hold true for your workouts?
I’m a firm believer that attitude is half the battle when it comes to challenging workouts. When you show up and the first words out of your mouth are about how out of shape you are, you’re already digging yourself a little hole that you have to climb back out of before you even begin your warm up. The truth is, I don’t care how in shape or out of shape someone is before coming to my class, because that does not matter in that moment. What does matter is that they are there, that they got themselves out of bed before 6 am to be there, and that they have made the commitment to do something good for themselves that day. Those are the things that matter, not how quickly they can run a mile.
So instead of “I’m in really bad shape”, next time someone new shows up, I would love to hear them say “I haven’t been doing as much as I would like, but I’m really proud of myself that I made it here this morning”. Because I am proud of them, every single day that they show up. I’m proud of them whether they can do 1 push up or 25 push ups. I’m proud of them whether they can finish 8 rounds of our circuit or only 2. I’m proud of them for taking some time for themselves, working as hard as they can and striving each class to do what’s best for their bodies on that particular day.
And when it comes down to it, life is not about being the most “in shape”. We don’t get gold stars or points on a leader board in real life for being the fastest or the strongest. But when we consciously make strides to take care of our bodies and to nurture our souls with positivity and encouragement, instead of tearing ourselves down with doubt, that is when we win. In shape or not, what matters is this moment and what you’re doing to make your future better.