Bertina is here at 7:30 am for super Sunday strength training in my garage. We do rounds of lower body lunges to end our week. All the moves are new for me and keep me almost entirely in a plank position, but still jumping around. Crisscrossing, mountain climbing, pop and leaps.
Bertina asks, Does it hurt? I mean do you feel pain, like the wrong kind of pain? No, I say it’s different. It hurts, but not like an injury. She reminds me that it is the good kind of hurting then. The kind that most people naturally try to avoid. It’s the kind of hurting that you have to do to grow. Hurt means strength, she explains flatly. Your whole life is like that. If it was easy everybody would do it, she says.
She is so right.
You kind of intuitively know that when you are young and you grow up with instructors, coaches and trainers. They always asked more of you then you knew that you could do and you respected them for that. But when that whole system falls away and you are on your own, what do we ask of ourselves? I will always stop when it hurts. My logic tells me that’s enough. Back off, you’ve reached the edge of your ability.
I feel like when I asked Chris and Bertina to train me, I was probably asking them specifically for this. Take me beyond what I would instinctively ask myself to do. I want to push myself, but I don’t trust myself to follow through. I want to commit to something bigger than my army of one.
After two rounds she asks me, are you okay? Do you need to stop? I tell her I am never going to say no to you. My body is in your hands, Bertina. If I fall on the floor because it is too much that is when I will stop. She counters my commitment to her as a coach and says that I have to do it for myself.
I believe that and in truth I am trying to do something that is wholly and luxuriously for myself. I have sidelined my own needs and energy for so many years, I have to keep moving forward to avoid sliding back into old habits. I love being a mom but I need something separate from that. Not even just something! Lots of things. All the things that make up me. My life, who I am.
So we do a third round, Bertina encouraging me and keeping me on track. At one point, I wonder off to show her the garden as if it were a social visit. No she corrects, stay focused. Keep your mind here.
When we finish, I am very surprised that I am still walking somewhat normally. It was only Tuesday that I was stumbling down the stairs of Junior’s Gym!
Had I mapped out the week for myself, I would have targeted different muscles, moving around my body systematically to find the areas that were least exercised. But Bertina and Chris commit to an area and stay with it for the week. The same muscles over and over again, creating muscle memory of the right positions. When Chris shouts out deeper, he wants to train me to reach that position every time, not the one to which my brain would prefer to default.
It is really counter intuitive, but I can attest after finishing the week that my lower body feels sore but awake in a good way. Stronger, actually, ready for more.
Later on she emails me pictures of the morning exercises, encouragement and congratulations. I love having the photography. I’ve never really recorded my progress in that way and it’s fun to see again what we were doing and that it’s really me doing it.
I know that I am so fortunate to have her guidance, experience, and positive energy. A part of my body that remembers the pain of the routine is more wary about showing up to do the work, but there is another part of my brain that is remembering that ‘working out’ is thrilling and fun.
Why would I forget that?