So, it’s March and that means it’s the time when our hopes & goals from the new year start to maybe wane a bit and the day-to-day world kicks in. The endless rainy days, the not quite warm enough temps… Before we know it, the daily grind of getting through the last of Winter and into Spring leaves all those wakeup.kickass.repeat goals in the dust. But here is why this year is going to be different:
-Because you aren’t working out because you hate something about yourself.
-Because it’s not about the jiggle or the “extra” that you’ve convinced yourself you need to get rid of in order to be “happy”.
-Because this year, you are going to “Wakeup. Sweat. Run. Bike. Lift. Flex. Stretch. Dance. Move. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.” because, wait for it… … …
Because YOU LOVE YOUR BODY.
We will do all of those things for our healthy, strong selves that can take-on anything.
We will do them in order to wake up the next morning ready to tackle yet another day of life hitting at us.
The stronger our bodies, the stronger ourselves!
If you have taken a class with me, you probably can repeat my mind-body blah blah blah by heart as I talk a lot about connecting breath to movement, creating resistance in your body using your brain, using visuals to connect posture and form to an exercise, etc. But there is a reason I say it over & over!
This year, I’m challenging myself to use this same technique outside of the gym/studio. To connect breath to movement when my brain starts to slam my body. And resist the habit to use words of weakness and failure when talking about myself – refusing to let my mind bully my body. I will stand tall and graceful when I get stuck on a “flaw” in the mirror and instead I will recognize the power my body provides me.
So many of my students are working out with specific goals in mind: weddings, bikinis, lift goals, summer activities, etc. — just remember to respect and revere the body that allows you to work so hard. Do not slam it or talk down to it. Love it! Love it so much that you feel weak in the knees just thinking about it.
Then maybe, just maybe, those goals won’t be quite so difficult. Eating smart energy-fueled foods will be easier because you are loving & respecting your body by providing it nutrients. Stretching and foam rolling won’t be a chore you forget to add to your workout because you revere your body and support its need to recover. And the dreaded bursts of cardio in Tabata or HIIT will become your way of giving oxygen and power to your body, to tests it limits and challenge your body in a way that it deserves and desires. I (and YOU!) will embody our goals as a show of respect and not because of insecurity or hate.
In class, when I repeat cues and modifications, it is often because I need to hear them as a reminder as much as some students do. This lesson is no different. Repeat after me: “I am here sweating and working hard because I freaking love myself.”
As a burlesque performer, I am ridiculously proud of the community of different bodies that create art on a stage where you get to embrace every “flaw” as a perfection and treat the audience to that all-too-rare display of body/self-love. But as a fitness instructor, am I discouraging acceptance and instead helping my students to “change” or “correct” something about themselves they see as a weakness? And is this wrong?
For a long time these two worlds have always felt disconnected. But lately I have realized I am not helping you correct anything. I am helping you love and respect your body through safe and strengthening movement. Exactly the same thing I do as a performer and choreographer.
My work is to help myself and my students connect their brain and their bodies. To understand that accepting and loving your body doesn’t mean not wanting to challenge and change it in a healthy way that makes you happy. To discern that your definition of radiance isn’t necessarily mine nor the person next to you and that is awesome because then we all get to be unique and amazingly different. And my work is to support your decisions and determinations while driving you to see graceful strength in the mirror instead of the warped image society has dictated you to see.
I’ve been teaching for over five years now and in the past, I worked at several studios under the name “The Gracious Body”. It is time to reconnect to that brand by showing kindness to my body and being grateful for my strength. (And maybe even remembering to use this blog as a tool of connectivity.)
So there it is. Our goal together. This day and everyday after…
Get to the gym because our bodies deserve a reward for all the good they do.
Work hard when it feels right. Be kind when you need it most.
Say thank you with sweat.
I promise, it will thank you back.
*Song title. Artist, Camille Howard