Six a.m. comes much too quickly each morning. Often, I am tempted to hit the snooze button, however, six a.m. has become a very important time for me. There is a gym, a crazy trainer, and the most unique group of people from Tacoma that are all ready to work hard. An hour later I am exhausted, but feeling strong. I then rush off to get ready for the day ahead. Monday through Friday, this is my routine, working out alongside some close friends. I am amazed as I watch the powerful effect this gym life is having on all of us.
Training sessions in a gym setting have become my unexpected and passionate routine for the last two years. I have always been an athlete and runner, but weight training is a whole other animal. Fitness and healthy eating are enjoyable habits, yes, but there are deeper reasons which keep me pushing my own limits.
I was born with no fingers on my right hand. Growing up I was a bold, naturally athletic kid and I excelled in anything physical. Slight modifications needed perhaps, but it was hard to tell I was the one-handed girl on the basketball court or on the pitcher’s mound. My history in sports significantly aided in growing my confidence and belief in achieving what seemed unlikely. The same mindset has followed me into the gym as I dead lift on the Olympic bars, knock out dozens of pull-ups at a time, and lift kettle bells any which way with my fingerless hand. There are no limits when we step beyond what we think can be accomplished.
Strength had been an insecurity, believe it or not, throughout my young adult life. I inherited my father’s broad shoulders and biceps. I never felt I was feminine enough if my arms weren’t that of a petite little thing. I can laugh at those thoughts now, but only because I have been through the process of growing and healing from past self-consciousness. I remember a specific time in New Zealand, during a kayak expedition around a volcano, distinctly hearing God’s voice speaking to my spirit, that my strength was beautiful. It was an unexpected truth left on my heart and it set me on a course to believing that statement to the fullest.
The belief that my strength was beautiful has been the match to my fire. My journey in accepting and loving my strength was not all on my own. It’s been a community affair. I have been incredibly blessed to connect with trainers during my time in Kansas City and now with one of the same high caliber in Tacoma. These trainers did not see my hand as a limitation. Instead, they fully encouraged and pushed me past what I thought I could only physically manage. They have been influential in my life, along with the others crazies that fight through these sessions with me. They have all become so dear to my heart.
There is something to be said about friendships when they are built during common adversity. You find your physical self is being pushed to its limits. You’ve never felt more tired or felt more drenched in sweat. Yet, seeing the faces of those friends to the left and right of you with that same look of exhaustion, tends to give one so much more energy. This is what I have so loved about these last two years of personal/group training; community. I experienced the same type of people at rEvolution Gym as I do here now at Peak Performance. We are vulnerable, we are tired, we are supportive, and we are growing strong together. I am incredibly thankful for my God given strength and my gym community.
As I divulge my love of the gym life, I also have come to a place of surrender. A reputation for being strong, intense, or a commonly stated badass, has become my “thing.” It is easy to laugh that reference off, but I have been faced with numerous, hindering challenges this summer that has made me reflect on and even question where my identity lies. I had fallen ill and later ripped a toenail completely off, requiring me to slow down my training game. Granted, I did hike through a mountain pass the day after the toenail was lost. I am afraid there is a half marathon I am likely to miss next month due to being unable to properly train and my missing a few weeks in the gym. Being forced into a resting state also forces me to stop and ask myself what the effects of not being active are, not only for my body frame, but for my heart. Will I shutter at the thought of not being the “tough girl” that goes hard 24/7? Will I loose my abilities to out push-up most girls, or guys for that matter? The reality is, those abilities are not what defines success. Strength and athleticism are giftings I am grateful to have, but my identity lies not in them. My identity lies in Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus is my King whom I praise a top every mountain I climb and whom I thank after every training session or long run. My joy in being athletic lies not in my body, but in my God. My love, awe, and wonder have grown substantially over the years by being as active as I am. He has graciously given me this restful season, so I can squirm a little bit and return to the conclusion that I am His and that is my true success.
I am thankful for my strength. I am thankful for my community. I am thankful for my identity as a follower of Christ.