It’s 7:30 am on a typical beautiful Granada morning and Bertina and I are again in my garage warming up. I am surprised by how even stretching in strength training is a more challenging experience than the same stretch in yoga. Bertina sits deeper into the stretches and tells me to do the same. I feel it burning right down through my legs and my body wakes up to go to work. These stretches are the same as exercise, she reminds me. It’s so true. Can it be that I am cheating also at yoga? Lounging into the stretch, letting limber muscles hang out, talk shop, take a union break?
The exercises that she has me working on today are focused on glutes, mostly executed through a plank position and besides drawing attention to my weak, shaky triceps they actually are really fun and challenging. She teaches me a new jump-plank-down-roll over-ab crunch-plank-jump again combination that has the dancer in me intrigued. This kind of movement with rhythmic combinations I instinctively get. But I also have to remember I am not here for a cardio workout. I am trying to build curves into my body which require me to add muscle to my frame in all the right places. It’s got to hurt in exactly those areas that I want to grow.
Bertina may be encouraging and sweet, and her physical presence is a great motivator, but she is also the real deal. She walks the talk in everything that she does. Whatever she asks me to do, she moves through it with total commitment alongside of me, demonstrating and accompanying me every step of the way. Meanwhile, she manages to talk me through it all as I am gasping for oxygen and strength to get through a round.
Yesterday, I finally went through the pictures and videos that she recorded from last week, the killer ‘before’ footage that no one wants to see. I know that I was sincerely avoiding it. It’s really difficult to observe the bad posture, the weakness, and the skinniness that I try not to look at in the mirror on a daily basis.
When I explain my hesitation and dismay to Bertina, she understands completely the instinct to go searching for the negative attributes in a photo, but she cautions me against falling into this trap. Everyone will want to look for these things, it is natural. But you must seek out where you are winning, what you like about what you are doing. Don’t forget to do that, too. It is a kind of balance.
She’s right. Again. To be fair, the photos show me trying. I am weak, but I am all effort. It’s got to be enough for now. Focus in on the positive. Where am I winning?