October 5, 2020
Every now and again, I like to switch up my workout routine. This is due, in part, to workout boredom, as well as a desire to challenge my body in new ways. So last week, I returned to an ‘oldie, but goodie,’ workout — barre. Not only did it energize me physically, but it also reminded me that I have the stamina to journey through hard things.
If you’re not familiar with barre as a workout, it’s a specific technique inspired by yoga, ballet, and pilates that focuses on low-impact, high-intensity movements. And if you, like me, aren’t interested in increasing bulk, barre is a wonderful workout choice to simply strengthen and tone your muscles, quickly burn calories, and help with metabolism and cardiovascular endurance. You can learn more about the benefits of barre to determine if it’s right for you here: https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/a-z/barre-workouts.
Low-impact exercise. Pliés and other ballet-inspired movement. Upbeat music.
However, don’t be fooled! Of all the workout routines I’ve done over the years — from running to cycling to boxing — barre is THE ONE workout that consistently leaves my body trembling, burning, and sweaty. All signs that I’ve thoroughly worked hard from head to toe.
And last week’s workout was no exception.
Much to my dismay, however, every call to action by the instructor resulted in my thinking, “My body can’t do that” or “That’s too hard for me.” At every turn, I made various excuses to justify why after 4 years of not doing a barre regimen, I wouldn’t be able to make it through the 20-minute class.
But guess what? I did.
Why do we so often assume we can’t journey through hard things?
At the conclusion of the workout, I felt so invigorated. Giddy, even. It was as if I’d accomplished something far greater than a relatively short barre class.
I wiped the sweat from my forehead and chest, stood in my workout room for a moment, and gave thanks to God.
Each of us looked in the rearview mirror on January 1, 2020, reflecting on situations that occurred in 2019 and preparing for new beginnings. And for roughly two months, it was a relatively low-impact start to the year. Many of us established goals for the year. Others pressed forward, working to juggle demands at work and at home. Finally, some rejoiced in the ability to begin again, recovering from perceived failures throughout the prior year.
On the surface, everything seemed normal.
In one fell swoop, however, our lives as we knew them changed. In March 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) identified COVID-19 as a global pandemic. The death toll began to rise. And we shifted from our natural habits as social creatures to physically distancing for safety purposes. All of this occurred against a historical backdrop of social and racial division, coupled with the horrific deaths of innocent Black persons.
March 2020 through to the present. More than 6 months at this point.
Mentally, we feel drained from the constant barrage of information coming in through every media outlet. Our emotions wax and wane from overwhelmed and fatigued to apathetic on any given day. Spiritually, we may have a scroll of questions waiting to be answered. And physically, our bodies, uncertain how to behave, simultaneously long to move and sit still. We yearn to take action, all the while craving sleep.
Yet, here we are.
With every plié thrown our way — whether in the form of social and political upheaval, public health crisis, and separation from friends and loved ones (including death for some), we’re still standing.
Reaching out towards one another.
Indeed, we’ve journeyed through hard things.
Last week, barre just confirmed it yet again for me. Each passing day confirms it.
While we may bend, we’re not built to break.
I’m not sure what tomorrow will bring — how we’ll face COVID-19 and other societal ills. But I DO KNOW that we’re here. Today. In this moment.
And for that, I’m incredibly grateful.
What’s ONE thing you’ve discovered this year that might serve as a reminder that you can journey through hard things?
Maybe, like me, it’s a 20-minute exercise class. Or a tough conversation. The growth experienced as you grieve.
Whatever it is, thank God for it.
Embrace the lessons learned in it.
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