Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Power of a Single Clap

For quite some time before moving back to Iowa, I was not handling the stress of being a mom very well.  We didn't have a babysitter and didn't have anyone close enough that we trusted them to watch the kids. The only quality time together (without the kids) that DH and I had was when family came in from out of town - typically two times per year for my parents and 3-4 for DH's mom. 

It wasn't until we had already committed to moving back that a friend told me that most YMCA's offered free childwatch for people with family memberships.  While you can't utilize them as a babysitting service, they do watch your child while you are exercising.

We moved back Memorial weekend, May of 2006.  On June 8th, I decided to join the YMCA.  I was tired of being out of shape and felt like I should take a new approach to my health.  When I first started, I was doing the elliptical.  In August, I was talked into taking a cardio class (you can read about that story here.)  Every class is different.  Sometimes we do circuit training, sometimes kick-boxing, sometimes step.  It takes a few months before we see a repeat class.

The very first class that I took was a routine involving a row of steps lined up side by side - like a 40' wide/long step.  Half of the class (Group A) was on one side of the room, Group B was on the other side.  Group A would traverse the row of steps doing something like tap up/tap down to get to where Group B started.  At the same time, Group B would do something like lunges across the open floor to get to where Group A started.  We would do that about 4 times then do a different type of activity.  Over the top and back of the benches and moving squats on the way back.  The activities continue to rotate and one of the more challenging tasks is the inchworms.  Basically, it involves walking your hands into a push-up position (push-up optional) then walking your feet to your hands... continuing to the other end of the room.  Ugh.

I remember being dead tired and Leah even announcing to the class "If you need to take a break, walk the track."  She doesn't single people out unless they are doing something that could cause injury or if she knows they don't mind.  But since I was new, I didn't realize that she was indirectly directing her comment at me.  This time, she looked me straight in the eye, swung her finger in a circle in the air and said "If you need to take a break, walk the track."  Then she smiled.  Then I started to walk the track. 

Once I got comfortable with the class and the people, every time we did that workout I would say "This is the first workout I ever did."  Leah got to the point where she waited for me to say it when I arrived and saw the setup.

Well, this Wednesday was a little different.  Most of my regular friends were absent for the holiday so I didn't blurt it out.  Part way through the class, Leah announced "This is Nicole's class" (maybe she said workout or routine... I don't remember because I was already very tired.)  Anyway, it isn't my favorite routine in terms of activity, but emotionally, it is.  It is an absolute gauge of how far I have come in two years. 

As usual, I did my best - working at a high impact pace when I could and doing low impact on things like jumping jacks (because I have bad knees.)  I went strong on every pass across the row of benches and was able to smile as I remembered how difficult it was on that first day.  Lunges, squats and all that stuff are becoming easier but still are challenging in the midst of our exhaustion.  The inchworms were the true test.  While progressing through, Leah reminded us that the push-ups are optional.  When she saw that many of us were pushing ourselves to do them anyhow, she decided to jokingly add "Okay, you can add a clap in the middle if you like."  So on my next inchworm, I did just that.  I did a push-up with a clap in the middle... something I haven't done since my high school and college days of being in shape.  Leah acknowledged it as did a few classmates.  It made me feel great.

Granted, I have a lot of weight still to lose, but I feel so much better these days.  That one clap in the middle is a powerful reminder that with continued commitment, anything is achievable.

(The first photo was taken at Christmas 2006. The second one was just a few days ago when I tried on a fitted shirt that DH bought me.)