Fitness and exercise are a major priority for me. They are part of my daily routine, like brushing my teeth. But, like most routines, this one had grown stale… and predictable. Since I have been challenging myself to take chances and embark on new adventures, thereby stepping decisively outside my comfort zone, I figured this philosophy should apply to my workouts.
Enter Jenny Schatzle, a fitness guru and life motivator, whose motto is: “don’t just change your body, change your life.”
When I showed up for the first class, I was apprehensive and more than a bit intimidated. I waited outside the large warehouse style studio and watched a packed room of young, extremely fit people jump, run, lunge and lift to the beat of loud, motivating music. The atmosphere was electric! At the end of class, the sweat-drenched participants high-fived each other in celebration. Jenny closed with a stirring, motivational talk, and the crowd dispersed to begin the day in a state of near euphoria.
After a quick tour of the facility and a brief demonstration of the day’s circuit exercises, I was ready. Then, I quickly realized that I was the oldest one in the class– by at least 15 years. I also soon learned that the class was in week six of a six-week program. Everyone else had begun in week one. Nonetheless, I had committed to try this class, and remained undaunted. I resolved to get a great workout, make new friends, and, most importantly, have fun.
I started out on the treadmill at a brisk walking pace, then progressed to a slow jog. By the final “sprint,” I was full-out running like I was in my 20’s again, when I did weekend races for fun. Next up was a circuit of bench presses, side lunges, kettle ball squats and push-ups, interspersed with planks and crunches. During each set, I tried to focus on my own body, instead of on the young, tight bodies that surrounded me.
Jenny’s class was one of the most intense hours I have ever experienced. It challenged each and every one of my muscles. I was dripping in sweat; I looked like I had just stepped out of the shower. And, I sported an enormous grin. As class ended I high-fived my neighbors, as we congratulated each other on surviving the class. Then, Jenny addressed the group, challenging us to “live life in the driver’s seat.”
Her message resonated with me, especially because of where I am in my life. Yes, I am– and will always be– someone’s daughter, wife, sister, friend and mother. But now it is time for me to be the driver, and not the passenger, in my life. This entails letting go of all the pictures and expectations that I have been trying to live up to. It means living in the moment, and not worrying about what others might think or say, or what might happen if I make a certain choice or decision.
And, ultimately, it means letting go of my self-image as a fifty-something mom who is older and less fit than everyone else in an exercise class. It means recognizing that I am smart enough and capable enough of re-entering the work force and pursuing a new career that I am passionate about. It means I am free to discover my real purpose in life and to be the person I choose to be.
Thank goodness I am in the driver’s seat, because after Jenny’s class I am too sore to walk!