I did something really hard yesterday. I broke up with my trainer. We’ve been working together for almost eight years. It all started when I was almost 40 and recovering from a knee injury. I was afraid to start lifting weights again, worried I’d injure my knee in a more permanent way. I was scared of how my body was aging. It couldn’t do the things I made it do when I was in my 20s. I decided to hire a trainer to help me, and he did. He got me past my fear of injuring my knee, helped me cultivate confidence, supported me as I got stronger, encouraged me in all my efforts, both in and outside the gym.
It was a perfect fit. He challenged me to try things but wasn’t pushy. He didn’t bully me as a training technique as I’ve seen so many others do. We used to joke about it, him yelling “last chance workout!” like on the show The Biggest Loser while we both tried not to laugh. He wasn’t just my trainer, he’s my friend.
And yet, as I was working through all the prompts and reflections and contemplations on New Year’s Day, questions like “what do you want to create in 2015?” and “what do you want to let go in the new year?,” one thing kept coming up, something that I knew would be hard but also knew in my gut was right — I needed to take a break from training.
So yesterday morning, I sent him an email explaining. I still hadn’t heard back from him when I decided to go to the gym. I needed to go, to get myself past that first time there as a free agent, to make sure I didn’t fall into a pattern of avoiding it. As I walked in the back hallway, I heard a voice that sounded like his, but I didn’t think he was ever there on a Saturday. Then I saw him. My first thought was “oh crap. I should have checked the parking lot for his car.” I didn’t know if he’d read my email yet and I felt so awkward, knew this moment would come but hadn’t expected it today.
I walked to the front of the gym, towards the cubbies and coat hooks, and I considered walking out the front door and going straight back home. I told myself to calm down, it was my gym too. I had the right to be here, to take up space, and this was how it would be now. It wasn’t like I expected him to be mean, but I wasn’t sure if he’d be mad, hurt, or ignore me altogether. It was just so awkward.
I got on the elliptical machine way up front, put on my headphones, and started my workout. Maybe he’d be gone by the time I was done. Maybe he didn’t even see me. I played out all the worst case scenarios my hysterical brain could come up with — him confronting and yelling at me, getting into a fight with him, needing to ask the owner to mediate the situation, my ex-trainer laughing at my attempts to work out on my own, judging and criticizing me, me having to find another gym — all things that would never happen. And yet, my fight or flight lizard brain insisted on considering each one.
About 10 minutes into my workout, he came to talk to me. He was his same upbeat, professional self. He’d gotten my email, supported my decision, only ever wants for me to succeed, is available to help any time, etc. We hugged and I went back to my workout. No big deal, even though it was.
I share this with you, kind and gentle reader, because it’s a good example of the importance of honoring your own truth, even when it’s difficult and uncomfortable. It is part of my path to health and wellness, finding the ways my body wants to move, without any direction from anyone else. I need to be my own expert, my own trainer. The experience also reminds me of all the ways my mind freaks out, panics, suggests extreme actions in response to fear, and that I don’t have to run away with it. I can stay, feel what I feel but stand my ground, remain sane. I can be in a situation that’s difficult and find my way through it, allow my innate wisdom to arise, be stronger because of the experience.
I sometimes forget that to have the life I want, I don’t just rid myself of the bad things. Sometimes the choice is between two good things, and making the right choice is based in understanding that there’s simply not room for both. I can’t do everything. Inherent in the question “what do you want?” are the things I’ll have to let go of in order to make room. In this case, I want to nourish myself, to feed and to cherish, and this was one of the things I needed to let go to make space for that. I want to move my body the way it wants to move, I want to feel good, energized and strong. I want to experience the power and confidence that comes from training myself. I know what to do. I know what I want.