Truth Tuesday: Why I Left the Fitness World

I left the fitness world as a trainer just under a decade ago.  Wait - rephrase - about seven years ago I completely had a nervous breakdown and left my steady and successful job as a private Pilates teacher without two weeks notice.  And because I wanted to really up the ante on my quarter life crisis, I then jumped head first into a “real job” as an administrator in a small arts nonprofit, without a single pair of trousers or a lick of experience other than my self-directed bachelor’s degree in “Social Change and The Arts.”

I should confess that this was a repeat crisis.  I had done the same a few years earlier, when I decided to leave yet another swanky Pilates job, this one with a salary and a retirement plan and - get ready for it - health insurance.  I walked into the office of my boss at lunch break and literally said, “I’m done.  I can’t do it another second.”  Then I went back to school to get that self-directed bachelor’s, after getting the big eyes from family and friends.

Obviously, you should never ever hire me.  Well, that’s not entirely true.  Just don’t hire me as a Pilates teacher.  Or a house cleaner.  Or an organizer.  Or a chef.

I look back at that time and try to figure out, other than the obvious mystical psychological journey I was on, what exactly it was about that world that resulted in such a sudden intolerance of my participation.  And I know what it was and I also know why I pushed the career pendulum after that into something like “social change and the arts.”

Fitness culture the way it is today is, more often than not, a fake road map for wholeness and well being.  The goals we work for and the focus on some how some way contorting our life and body into the ideal form are not just the actual path to vitality.  They aren’t.  I can say this because I was completely immersed in it for so long.

Now, let’s make an important distinction:  Exercise is amazing.  Exercise can make you sing serenades of wholeness and well being.  Exercise can often be the easiest and most effective ticket to entering into your life force.  I’m not talking about exercise.  I'm not talking about your amazing group boot camp who sweats and rolls tires together.  I’m not talking about your passion for lifting 300 pounds.  I’m not talking about your love of running.  I’m not talking about how the local gym fueled your miraculous weight loss and rejuvenation.  I’m not talking about your sweaty beefy yoga.

I’m talking about the fitness culture, specifically as it speaks to women.  I had my ears to the pulse of that and my hands on the hips of it for a long time.  And it’s a deception.  And I couldn’t be involved in it because it undermined the power of exercise by whittling it’s connection to our blood flow and our brain balance down to objectifying, plastic, and constraining results.

Before I go any further with my diatribe here, please know that I don’t judge anyone.  I’m just trying to get your attention.  And I want to let you in on a secret that I know to be so true now.  We exercise to connect.  To ourselves.  To our vitality (power). To other people.

Exercising regularly and in whatever way THAT WORKS FOR YOU shifts you in a manner that you can’t find anywhere else.  And I know for a fact above all facts that what motivates us to keep going in our exercise hobbies and adventures is not how it makes us look.  It is how it makes us feel.  I speak to women all the time who do my programs who don’t lose a single pound nor mold themselves into cut barbie dolls, but who experience their body and their presence like the most beautiful capable one around.  It just shifts you.

There’s nothing to do but show up.  The exercise does the rest. It’s so unbelievably simple.  There’s no oath you have to sign or wild schedule to adhere to or mojo you have to conjure.  It’s available to you every day without massive effort.  If you don’t believe me, do ten jumping jacks right now and tell me you don’t feel a little better and brighter.

So, here’s the cap to this post.  I’ve been able to stay here with Momma Strong because it is the home for me to be the activist I am for women showing up in the world and receiving the care they need to jump out of lame sauce fitness mom world and into adventure and things that matter.

I am also able to stay here because this tribe has shown me something incredible.  They exercise and strengthen their body because of how their showing up can affect their community.  They are fueled by their fiery spirit and it’s visible flame in their communities.  How do I know this?  Because in our latest version of The Hook, we’ve added a component called, “Share the Show Up.”  For every week that a hook-er meets her goals, I donate one MommaStrong program to a woman in need or a women’s service/shelter.

So far, in just 3 weeks of this new Hook, we have donated over 120 programs.

The experience here is life changing.  It's the first time so many of us who despise the fitness culture can give ourselves permission to sweat and burn baby burn without having to comply with the messages usually associated.  We get to teach our kids that strength has nothing to do with appearance and everything to do with the hygiene of our wholeness and our engagement.  And we get to help other women get intelligent exercise at their fingertips in a meaningful way.

I believe in my heart, even though I'm a natural born cynic, that every tiny good cause and good effort matters.  Every 15 minutes.  Every choice for vitality.  Every mother, no matter her circumstances.

Join us.