Today I convinced myself that Chris and Bertina would be waiting for me at Junior’s Gym with a whole new set of exercises focusing on alternative muscle groups. Surely they would see that from the waist down I was completely useless. I had two legs that felt like rocks (and not because they were solid muscle!) that still could barely navigate the stairs in my house.
Of course we would do some kind of upper body exercise to balance it all out!
Bertina announces we are going to do the same routine as we did on Tuesday. Oh-my-God. This is devastating news. But I will never say no to them. I made that decision from the beginning. Say what you like about trusting your body to the supervision of other people , but if you ever get a chance like this with athletes that you trust because they walk the talk, my advice to you is don’t say no. No becomes a habit. No is a way of avoiding discomfort that you need in your life.
I want to wake up to a world of yes where I keep trying. I’m here for difficult. I’m here for the burn. The aches. I’m here for Tuesday’s squats, curtsies, and lunges again on Thursday. That’s my personal commitment to myself.
Bertina reminds me that she knows that it hurts. But you have to go deeper. The point is that you want resistance for results, but resistance is difficult. Out minds fight against it.
There is a memory to the movement, Chris explains, and your mind wants to avoid the pain it remembers. You get to a certain distance where the body feels the resistance and it remembers that it didn’t feel good. You have to tell it: that’s right it feels terrible, but I want you to do it anyway.
Each movement must be a a full commitment meeting the resistance. What’s the point of faking it? Because as Chris says: If it is not hard to do, it’s not worth doing.
He nods over to the side of the gym. You see that person? She’s been coming to the gym for months every day and she looks the same as when she first started coming in here.
It’s strange, but as I watch her throwing some free weights around, I see what he means. You can wander through the motions without ever actually making a commitment to feeling them. There are plenty of ways to avoid feeling resistance. Building up momentum is just one of them. But isn’t resistance what we are all here for, or do we want to look like we are experiencing resistance?
If it’s not hard to do, it’s not worth doing. If that’s true, I probably better not mention that contrary to all the mind’s logic, I feel like the routine today was a little bit easier the second time around. It’s still complete agony (don’t get me wrong!) and when Bertina counts 16 instead of 15 reps, I am wretchedly aware of it. But I know that they are right. It is that very agony that is the physical change that I am looking for and there’s no avoiding it if I want real results.
Chris takes out his phone and shows me a picture that was taken of him for a magazine when he was in his 50s. His pectoralis muscles are hard won and probably the envy of most men even under 50. But I kid you not, he looks better now and I suspect that if I saw a picture of Bertina from 20 years ago I would say the same thing. The way that they are growing and moving forward challenging their bodies with discipline and sincerity creates a rare beauty that you are not born with. It is earned.
Let me just end today’s journal with this observation: If you ever thought your life was over at 40 think again. That’s your choice to make every day for the next decade.