This is a guest post by Abbi Pollyea for the m challenge series.
It is a new year, and with it comes an opportunity to start fresh and perhaps create some positive change in our lives. One of the most popular New Yearʼs Resolutions is the one that goes like this, “Iʼm going to get in the best shape of my life this year!”
The fitness industry as a whole blows up in January. Gym memberships are up, fitness dvd sales are high, and fitness classes everywhere are full. As a fitness instructor, I love this special time of year as I get to meet many new potential clients and share in their enthusiastic energy. I attempt to encourage all new students with words of empowerment in the hopes that they will find passion in movement and fully commit to an exercise program. Unfortunately, however, January comes to an end and numbers in classes start to go down. By the end of February, many of the new people that I hoped I would get to know as regulars, have stop attending classes altogether.
New healthy habits are simply hard to permanently implement into our lives and it can be easy to fall back into old routines that are comfortable and not challenging. There needs to be a driving source of motivation that exists from within in order to fully commit to a fitness program. It is my intent to help you find this motivation and use it on a regular basis to help keep you moving!
I have created a simple formula that will help make your fitness resolutions attainable. The formula is as follows:
(A source of INSPIRATION) + (A type of MOVEMENT that you LOVE) + (A COMMITMENT to yourself) = A new found PASSION and COMMITMENT for fitness and health
For the initial part of this formula, (INSPIRATION), I am going to share a brief version of my journey into fitness. I am hoping that some of these words and themes will be relatable to those who have struggled with similar situations.
As a child, I was drawn to gymnastics and dance. I loved each sport with such passion and was a natural at both. Adolescence proved hard for me however, and my late teen years were extremely rocky. I gave up both beloved sports and without a passion to direct my energy, I floundered my way through high school, putting on weight and taking poor care of myself. Luckily, I made it through somewhat in tact, fell in love with a great,great man, had a baby, got married, and had another baby. This would bring us to 2004. So, from 1994-2004, I did not dance or do anything that I would have considered athletic.
I was now a mom of two beautiful boys, and felt happy at being a mom, but unfulfilled with my individual accomplishments. I felt sad that I would never be the dancer or gymnast that I aspired to be as a girl. I was twenty-six and pretty much felt that my dreams were over, which is a confining way to feel. One afternoon, I watched a movie called “Center Stage.” In this movie, there was a scene in which an adult jazz class took place. Something about it made me want to dance again so badly, that it made me cry. Later that day, I dried my tears, opened up the phone book, (it was 2004!) and looked up every single dance studio in South Bend, Indiana. I called them all until I found one that offered an adult Jazz class. I signed up, bought myself some jazz shoes and was more excited than I had been in a really long time.
The class was on a Monday night at 6pm, I showed up at 5:30 and waited while about fifteen other women came in. It was then that I got nervous and started to feel like I had no business being there. I actually went out to my car and almost went home, truly. But…..I didnʼt. I stayed, and danced, and after taking the six week class two times in a row, I was asked to be an instructor. This began a teaching career that expanded into Pilates, Yoga, and Barre. My job has helped keep me in shape, stay home with my kids, (two more came along in 2010 and 2012) as they grow, introduced me to the BEST people, and has never, ever, stopped inspiring me. Most importantly, however, the experience of attending that one dance class brought passion back into my life that had been lost in the years between childhood and adulthood.
I hope that story helped inspire you to look back at your own childhood, and think about the sport that brought out your greatest joy. Whatever activity that comes to your mind is going to help you with the second part of the formula, (MOVEMENT that you LOVE). This part of the formula is essential. Exercise shouldnʼt feel like a “have to”, it should feel like a “want to”. So… if you were a soccer player, find a local adult soccer league, if you loved gymnastics, try Pilates, if you loved riding bikes, try a Spin class. There are adult programs everywhere! Whatever movement or game that brought you joy and passion as a child, will still bring you the same feelings as an adult. There is something so magical about revisiting our childhood dreams in an adult setting, it is an opportunity to reconnect to our younger selves and say to our present self, “It is never too late to pursue your dreams!”
The final part of the formula is the hardest, (COMMITMENT to YOU). It is so hard to take care of ourselves and try to pursue our dreams when we are doing this around the clock for our families. In order to inspire and take care of others, however, we MUST commit to ourselves. I know I am a more patient and kind person after I have danced for an hour. We all need an outlet that is healthful and keeps us inspired. Know fully that you are worth the commitment.
Below are two pictures, the first is of me at age ten, happy as I could be on my balance beam. The second is of me last year at age 36, happy as I always am on my Pilates Reformer working on a dance move:
Remember your childhood passion and transition it into your adult life. I wish you a happy, healthy, and magical 2015.