I lost myself. Standing at the edge of the road, I watched her run; strong, confidently, and fast. She was happy, fulfilled, and doing exactly what she was created to do. But as the distance grew between us, she grew smaller and I had to squint to keep my eyes on her. Then she blurred. And then she was gone. The agony I felt when I turned around to look in the mirror and not see her there sent me swirling down into despair and confusion. What had happened? Why did I let her go? How did this happen?
I worked hard to develop my career in the fitness industry and finally made it to my dream job…and then we moved. I thought I would like the idea of working part time again and focusing on my own training again…but I was missing a very important part of who I was made to be. I felt like I had all of these experiences, knowledge, and growth developed all sitting on the shelf building up dust, and I was withering away; fading into the distance of someone who once was. Something had to be done.
So I applied. Everywhere. Every gym I could think of. And every job I applied at, I jumped into interviews like it was a lifeline. And I got hired. At nearly every interview I got.
I was cleaning floors and machines in one gym, following a generic programing system at another, and working administrative at another. Every place that hired me would say “you’re over qualified, but we love your enthusiasm!” I was suddenly working four jobs with the hope that one would open up to an opportunity. I went to work every day full of energy and positivity, ready to take on the world; knowing that the work I was doing did not fit my qualificiations or passions, but at least I was close to the action.
It was not easy. I would come home, and in the shelter of an amazing, patient husband, I would crumble to pieces and cry. Locking the door to the bathroom, lights out, in the warm tub, I’d let the water and my tears mix as one, and there I would sit in my own agony.
But I would get up the next day and put on a brave face. Every shift I had in any job, I would carry a change of workout clothes, just, per chance, there was an instructor no show. Then maybe, just maybe, I could shine once more.
Who knew; I was shining already.
As I was getting ready for my shift, my purse accidentally crumbled to the floor in the middle of the offices. Gathering my stuff quickly, I looked up to see someone standing over me waiting to get past. I looked up, smiled at her and said, “Good evening! How are you?” She just stared at me for a moment and the awkwardness grew, I could not read this woman.
“Have we met?” She asked. I knew she was an older woman with her grey hair, but she looked so young to me, her hair looked fantastic and there was just something I liked about her.
“No we haven’t,” I laughed, “I’m so new. I’m Ashley. I just started at the membership desk.” I stood up and smiled at her warmly.
“Well, Ashley. You have great people skills. I’m sure you’ll do great here.” She answered.
I thought that was the end of it. Little did I know, she approached my Supervisor and the General Manager and inquired about me. There was a conversation I knew nothing about.
The next time I ran into her at work, she came up to me and said “Ashley, I knew there was more to you. Apparently you are quite an experienced fitness professional!”
I laughed answering her, “that I am!”
She asked why I was working admin when I had so much experience in fitness. I answered her honestly, “I needed an in, and admin was the only position that was available.”
Two weeks later, the position for Fitness Director opened up. I applied. And I got it.
It has not been an easy start; the job is massive, and much harder than when I had done this years before. But I am determined, and I show up to work full of coffee and enthusiasm (those two go hand-in-hand with me!)
I have had several people come up to me and ask how long I plan to survive in this job; making this job both terrifying and intoxicating. Many burn out in this job, and if I’m not careful, I could to.
This job gives me the resources to build people up, give them a community, and a safe place to come to be strengthened and encouraged. I was made for such a job as this.
And now, as I look into the distance, I can see her. She’s older now, and slower in her stride, but her steps are purposeful and light. She runs home, walks up to her husband, kisses him long and soft. Pulling back and smiling, she whispers; “I’m back.”
He looks at me, dark brown eyes darting back and forth to meet my gaze, then whispers with a grin; “I know.”
So why the big update on my life?
Because we are going into Power Phase! Power requires enthusiasm, passion, and energy. We are introducing plyometrics – exercises that requires explosive movements. Full force commitment and focus. Determination and drive. You will be tired, but you must reach down deep; find that inner tiger and fight. Your motivation is key and your effort is crucial.
Plyometrics. HIIT Training. Tabata. Farlek Training. Glorious program designs! You are now either reading this thinking “what the heck is she saying?” Or “here we go, she is showing her trainer colors now.” Yup, you betcha. Welcome to my blogs, I’m happy you are here.
PHASE TWO. POWER. MOTIVATION. IDENTITY.
January through to March
You have emerged from Phase One. You have developed your base, and now you emerge out of your Strong-hold campsite and are standing on your grounds. You feel strong for battle, but not quite ready yet. Now it’s time to play. Pick up your sword and practice those drills. Allow the sweat to sweep your brow and a smile to lift your lips. Your ready to unite strength with power.
Power phase involves the integration of anaerobic activity. Short, powerful movements that ignites your Type II muscle fibers, like BOOM. I’ll let you try it now…do 15 simple, safe squats. Now, place your hands to the floor in that proper squat and with all of your might, jump up as high as you can with arms up over your head and toes pointed down; make it a huge massive movement like your jumping to the heavens. Now do that rapidly for 15 repetitions. Your heart should be pounding hard, your breathing heavy, your thighs burning. If you’ve done it right, you probably had to walk around a little bit to gather your breath. Woot woot! That’s a plyometric. Explosive. Powerful. Intense. HIIT Training is High Intensity Interval Training geared to get your heartrate up and down and side to side! The implementation of plyometrics is common in interval training to get that heartrate up and create explosive power in those muscle fibers. Tabata will also be within HIIT programs as well; where you would go hard for 20seconds, rest for 10seconds, and repeat for 4minutes for a total of 8sets. By then you will be gased, because your oxygen intake and outtake of that 4minutes would be equal to doing an aerobic activity for 45minutes. Fartlek training are intervals of random timed exercises…literally made to mess with your mind and your heartrate. Glorious.
Now you can also start adding in more aerobic cardio or develop a running plan for race season, adding in whatever mileage you are currently doing in a week and increasing it each week by 10%. You get better at running by…running. Running is a mechanical movement and your body is a machine. The more you do it, the more efficient you become at it and the easier it feels. Interval training and interval running is excellent for improving your speed and endurance.
In order to capture the aggression of a power-based program, you need to have full commitment; physically and mentally. In the moment you are attacking as hard as you can go for as long as an interval lasts. Commitment requires a deep sense of motivation. You cannot dedicate yourself wholly into something unless you are wholly commmited to it.
What is your motivation for doing all of this in the first place? The definition of the word motivation; “Motivation is a word derived from the word ‘motive’ which means needs, desires, wants or drives within the individuals. It is the process of stimulating people to actions to accomplish the goals.”
So what are your needs and desires? Running Spartan races fills most people with an ounce of fear…the idea of challenging yourself to do something you didn’t think you could do and then overcoming. Why do we have that desire?
Because we were made to evolve. We were made to grow. Our bodies were made to adapt and so also our minds. We cannot become stronger if we don’t push ourselves to our limits. Our muscles will never grow if we never push them to lift more. Our cardiovascular system will never improve if we never push it above 60% effort. We cannot become courageous if we never face our fears. So we step outside of our comfort zones and register for events that initimate us because we are built to want to grow; whether we do this consciously or subconsciously.
And, like Spartan says, “You’ll know at the Finish Line.”
That victory fire jump you see posted on everyone’s profile pictures in the summer; the hands outspread, chin lifted toward the sky, massive grin on their face; those pictures are genuine. They are the moment of realization where effort meets victory. And oh, how sweet it is.
Motivation can be linked to our identity. Who you believe you are will effect the effort you place in your workouts. If you approach your workouts thinking of yourself as weak, as tired, as fat…you will work out like a weak, tired, or fat person. If you go into your workouts thinking “I am strong. I am fast. I am agile. I will endure.” You will do all that are more.
Because I wasn’t doing what I was made to do last year, I lost who I was. I am by no means saying that my job is my identity. My identity is found in verses that calls one to build up people; “for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort,” and “since you are eager to have spiritual gifts, try to excel in gifts that build up the church,” and “so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged.” (1 Corinthians 14). These verses rattle my core and set my soul on fire. I know with every ounce of my being, that I am created to love as Christ has loved, and to build up the church. If I can encourage and inspire you in anyway in your fitness journey so that you become stronger, more energetic, and confident to do what God has called you to do with your specific gifts and abilities, then I believe one day, my God will say to me; “Well done.”
You, my precious Reader, are loved and molded into the fascinating person that you are.
Because; you are a Child of God.
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” Colossians 3:23
Now. Let’s ignite that Spirit.