I’ll just come right out and say it: I’ve had a roller coaster week. Some crappy things happened—including my own meltdown about the state of the kids’ playroom, where I came dangerously close to saying to my kids, “what the FLYING EFF were you thinking?!?” but somehow managed to hold back—but then had some amazing things happen. Like how I witnessed someone’s strength and confidence improve exponentially. One of the best parts about being a personal trainer is getting a front row seat to these types of changes, and watching it happen over time.
One of my 6am boot campers at ReCharge Pilates and Barre, who has been in class since early April, in the midst of a major diet and exercise transformation. I’ll call her Sally for the sake of privacy, as she’s a pretty shy and introverted person.
Over the weekend, Sally came in to the studio for a follow up assessment. In the first week of April, she could do about 11 full push-ups. On Saturday, she did TWENTY NINE. After 15, I thought, okay, she probably has about two or three more left in her. Nope. Push up after push up, she kept going. My mind was blown.
When she was done with push up number 29, she sat up at looked at me. I wanted her to throw her hands in the air and say, “YAHOO! Look what I just did!” But she just sat there quietly, with a half-smile on her face. So I looked at her and said, “You should be incredibly proud of yourself. All of this progress is due to you putting in the work, week in, week out. Amazing job.”
Still, no cheering.
She just looked at me and said, “Thank you. I know, I’m really bad at taking a compliment.”
She’s been on my mind ever since. What holds us back from celebrating these achievements? Fear of bragging? Sounding cocky?
I also had a small achievement this week, and one I was pretty darn excited about. I was at the gym by myself on Sunday morning, with a lower body workout on the schedule. I have to admit, lower body workouts are not my favorite, but they are important, nonetheless. So I set up on the squat rack, and started out with my sets. And somehow, I felt fantastic. I went up in weight on every round, and still felt good. Finally it came to the point where I was ready to squat my bodyweight, which would be a PR for me.
I looked at the bar, I looked in the mirror, and thought: yes. Today is the day. I ducked under the bar, took a deep breath in, then a deep breath out, bracing my core, as Molly Galbraith always says. And off I went.
And somehow, I felt great. I DID IT! But there I am, by myself, on a quiet Sunday morning at the gym, with no one to high five. What am going to do – a little jig? A loud, "Aw, YEAH! GIDDY UP!"? Um, no. I do let my fitness freak flag fly pretty often, but I try to keep it to a dull roar.
So like the saying about a tree falling in the woods, if no one is there to witness my squat PR, did it happen?
Hell yes, it happened. And I was pretty excited. I know my friend Sally was pretty excited about her 29 push ups, too, and I'm just hoping she went home and let out a big cheer in her apartment.
So friends, please celebrate your fitness victories, large and small.
Celebrate when you do your first full push up off your knees.
Celebrate when you run your first mile.
Celebrate when you can hold a plank for 30 seconds.
Celebrate when you add 5 pounds to a lift.
I’m not talking about taking yourself out for margaritas or anything (not that there’s anything wrong with that!) but just pausing, even for a second, to acknowledge a small victory. You know you spend a LOT more time berating yourself for things that go wrong, so why not spend an equal amount of time giving yourself a mental pat on the back? You are progressing. Powering through, moving forward.
And for that, I give you a virtual high five.
Just your average stopwatch-toting suburban mom, looking to make some locals sweat and curse my name.