I am so much bigger than these incessant thoughts I keep on having.
Above them Spirit eagerly awaiting my arrival.
"Are you ready to fly?" she asks with an inviting smile. "We've got some ground to cover. I've been waiting here forever."
"It was everything I could do to not pick you up and fly you to the top myself," she continued. "But you had to rise like the slow aged effervescent bubbles of freshly popped champagne."
"And all this time I've been trying to figure it out and you were just here waiting?" I replied mystified.
"Yes, my dear, and now there is no time to waste. Let's get on with this ascension to higher realms beyond thoughts, words and deeds."
And so I go . . . in Trust and LOVE . . . allowing GROWTH . . . seeking OPPORTUNITY ...stepping into the ABUNDANCE that was always there.
As a 22 year veteran fitness pro, I have seen my share of seasonal changes in my own "workout" routine. Lately, I have been repelled by lifting weights and doing traditional gym workout stuff. What could I possibly do to inspire me in this season of change in my life?
The idea of creating a fitness vision this year instead of a New Year's Resolution compelled me as the year wound down. A resolution sounds steadfast and results oriented while the word "vision" feels fluid and process oriented.
The most common New Year's Resolution I encounter as a fitness professional is "I want to lose weight." Now, I would point out that losing weight is a result. And when I focus merely on a result and not the process, I go right into self degradation mode when I don't see my result. What if I created a desired outcome instead?
Through a 3 week process of 1) Discovering what no longer serves me 2) Relinquishing stories and excuses I have adhered to out of comfort and 3) Stepping into what I would rather have instead . . . . I have arrived at my 2018 Fitness Vision: Rising Above My Fears. Now isn't that more inspiring than "I want to lose 10 pounds?"
I arrived at this vision through a process which I will briefly share with you now.
Week 1: During the last few days of December, I began to really look at what I didn't want to bring with me into 2018. The words came to me after some intentional meditation: FEAR, DOUBT, SELF-PITY, ANXIETY, PLAYING VICTIM, and SELF-NEGATION. I wrote each word on a sticky note. Then I let myself fully realize how those factors had previously played a role in my life. And then I burned them, symbolically to show how easy it is to get past them.
Week 2: As I started the New Year, I recognized the stories and excuses I had allowed myself to live by. "I don't have enough" and "I never finish anything" showed up as two mantras I had to replace. I wrote down all the excuses and I burned those, too. Soon I arrived at the discovery of my core values for 2018: LOVE, GROWTH, OPPORTUNITY, ABUNDANCE, AND VALUE.
Week 3: The idea of practicing and mastering yoga arm balancing poses like Handstand and Firefly inspires me now. Practicing arm balances places me in a position to symbolically rise above my fears and step into my core values for 2018. With each stumble and fall in my practice this morning, I LOVE myself more and ackowledge my GROWTH. With each practice I see an OPPORTUNITY to find an ABUNDANCE of strength I never knew I had and I grow to VALUE myself more and more each day.
What was your New Year's Resolution? Why is that important to you? Dig deep and courageously reveal your truth and you will discover a 2018 Vision that inspires you to act.
Tonight I read the book, Pete the Cat and His Magic Sunglasses, to my 6 year old son. On a sunny afternoon, Pete rides off on his skateboard wearing the "COOL, BLUE, MAGIC" sunglasses that Grumpy Toad gave him. He meets several animal friends along the way and each is transformed by the magic of these sunglasses. Owl finally sets it straight after the glasses break. "Pete, you don't need magic sunglasses to see things in a new way. Just remember to look for the good in every day."
That message must steady us now. In a time with so much perceived division. Whoever loses the U.S. presidential election MUST take the Higher Ground. Insults and slander won't heal the wound.
Love more. Talk less. That must become the mantra.
I know it sounds like hippie bullshit, but isn't that really what all the great early Masters like Jesus meant? It's hard to love the enemy.
We do what we do and that's it. Love deeply and make good with what we have. No expectations.
Like Pete discovered. There is no formula to making America great or having a great day. The decision is ours. WE have to see the good and keep getting better and better.
Ditch your workout and come play with me.
I mean, really, do you need anymore work in your life? Couldn't we all use a little more play?
I have spent thousands of hours in fitness centers, health clubs and rec centers. The people who come to "work out" seldom smile. They get in and get out like it's another job or duty in life.
Just look at Flo, who is jogging on the treadmill uphill while reading Cosmo and watching Dr. Phil. The sentiment is more like, "Just get me through this and I'll survive a little longer."
As a professional, I banned the word workout from my vocabulary early on, when I came to realize that adults just need more play in their lives. In the past, I indulged others with the word to keep myself relevant, but I cringe every time I say "workout".
For me, exercise is fun. Why the hell else would I do it? Sometimes it's gratifying to sweat really hard. Other times a casual stroll with Red Rocks in the distance will suffice. My competitive side likes to push for one more pull up or send an ace rocketing over the net. And the master improviser in me loves a full on rumble on my djembe.
80% of Americans struggle to keep up with the CDC's current recommendations for aerobic and muscle strengthening activities. Why are we trying to fit everyone into the same box? Fitness may have over-complicated a very simple formula. I praise that there are an abundance of choices on the market, but all the choices leave the average consumer stumped.
Here is my simple formula for physical activity . . . Move vigorously enough that your mind shifts into a happy place every day. Get up and move when you feel uncomfortable. Provide enough overload to your muscles that you flex all the big ones until they are tired a minimum of 2 days a week. I perform all these movements at the playground near my house. Weight training must not be overlooked. . . but that topic is for another time.
Today when you are feeling antsy, dull and uninspired, I invite you to pause and ask your body how it wants to play. A casual stroll around the office can shift brain cells. A vigorous heart thump can erase a negative mindset. Running outside with your kids will spread smiles and laughter far and wide.
How will you play today?
To every woman who felt the need to fit into those tight yoga pants and for every woman who stresses out about finding time to work out, I apologize for the myths, misrepresentations and misogyny the fitness profession has perpetuated.
My first exposure to fitness was in 1982, where as an impressionable 8 year old, I latched onto the images presented in the Jane Fonda Workout video. Who didn’t want a body like Jane Fonda and her bouncy co-horts? From there, the leotards got skimpier (remember G-Strings?) and the pressure to look good increased.
All the while, our lives became more sedentary and our foods became less nutritious. And in one hour a day, we were going to fix all that. Many tried and failed to attain the body of their cute and perky aerobics instructor. So…. the workouts got harder and, now, bodies that are sedentary 90% of the day, are trying to launch into high intensity, quick fix workouts, and we are becoming injured at an increasing rate. This method is NOT sustainable.
About 2 years ago, I bought my first gym membership ever (never had to buy one as a personal trainer my whole career) at a local, family owned gym. After a few months of tripping over other participants in classes with 40 or more people and becoming nauseated by the guys flexing at themselves in the mirror, I had enough. I couldn’t even finish out our year long contract.
Is this what fitness has become, I asked myself? It certainly doesn’t appear healthy to me. And why do I need the pressure of wearing the right shoes, the most fashionable workout wear, and maintaining a body that can only be attained by teaching 3 – 5 exercise classes per day.
Don’t kid yourselves ladies. That instructor leading your classes likely leads more than 2 classes per day. That’s how she got a body like that.
Seriously, who has the time for all that? And furthermore, do you really want to spend another minute indoors, using machines in a germ-infested environment? Isn’t it ironic that our lives have become so mechanized that we have to use machines to keep ourselves healthy?
About a year ago, I discovered the work of biomechanist, Katy Bowman. She promotes the idea of Nutritious Movement™. Movement is as essential as a healthy diet. Katy explains, “It’s richly varied, it’s well-balanced, and it drives your body on a cellular level.” In her view, exercise is a supplement and much of what is offered in today’s trendy fitness world is junk food.
I read her book, “Move Your DNA” last winter. The notion of eliminating assistive devices (chairs and shoes) that impede the body’s natural inclination to move and adjust struck a chord in my brain. I was ready for the revolution and the return to natural movement, free of exercise machines.
Since February 2016, I have not set foot in a “gym”. All winter I walked and ran at the lake near our house, snow or shine. The monkey bars at the playground became my primary method of strength training and I have gone from doing 2 shaky pull ups to 9 solid pull ups in 4 months. Yoga is my mainstay that grounds me and supports a supple body and present mind.
Workout plans, sets, and repetitions lie in the periphery and I may use them in a traditional setting with my clients, but, as for me, I am aligned with my body and what it needs. This can’t possibly be written into a plan to follow. It comes from showing up mindfully each day, and responding to my body’s needs.
I grant that the average person, new to fitness, will want a plan to follow. Self-awareness is a skill that develops over time. Plans offer structure, and when a person is adopting a new habit, it is useful to follow a plan. I’ll be honest, I never have kept notes or records or workout plans, and that works for me. My assessed body age feels more like thirty-something than forty-something, so it must be working.
Before you take another look at yourself and judge and assess how you should look, consider this. . . you are perfect as you are and the key to change starts with making the decision to slow down and turn inward. All the answers to your unique needs are there. Focus externally, outside yourself, and you will continue to become discouraged. And, most importantly, stop buying those magazines that make you feel like you should look like someone else.
Gina is a fitness professional turned movement specialist who aspires to redefine the way fitness is perceived in this country. Realizing that traditional fitness programs neglect the individual needs of each person’s body, Gina set out to create more movement opportunities for people by lifting the restrictive rules found in traditional fitness. Gina intuitively reads bodies and she uses evidence based movement assessments to adapt exercise programming according to the needs of her clients. This is a skill that could only be collected through 20 years of extensive experience working as a fitness professional in a variety of settings including public recreation, corporate centers, athletic clubs and retirement communities.