Let me rephrase – there was a little heartache. My earliest memories are being dragged along with my mom to her fitness classes. My sister and I would go to the on-site daycare, and I remember hearing the pounding of feet, the instructor’s booming commands blaring through the mic, and feeling the base pulsing through the walls. It was thrilling! After the classes, I would observe the participants as they were filing out of the gym. There was always happiness in the air as they joyfully exchanged hi-five’s and farewells. Everyone seemed so content: it was almost hard to believe it was the same group of people who had gone into the studio one-hour prior. Something had happened to transform these people and shift the energy within the entire building. Even at a young age, I longed to be a part of this.
When my mother picked us up from the daycare, she seemed lighter, happier, more calm and patient. I had been going to that daycare my entire life, but around age 3 or 4 I became aware that I yearned to be doing the fitness class in the studio or at least be able to watch. A few times I was able to sneak upstairs to the glass doors and see what was going on. I was completely fascinated and could have sat there for hours, watching. At the time, I thought, ‘what a tragedy that I can’t move with them!’ It actually seemed quite unfair. I wanted to move, to shake, dance and experience the music in the same way that they were.
Whether I liked it or not, the daycare was a non negotiable. My mom would load us up with snacks and colouring books and schlep us through downtown traffic to get to her sacred space. She spent lots of time, energy and planning to make it happen. At the time, I didn’t realize how important those workout classes were to her or why she made us go there. Love has a funny way of teaching you. It’s actually quite ironic..
As a mother myself now, I completely get it. My kids have also been in the same gym daycares since they were about two weeks old. I also drag them along. Believe me when I say that it is a ton of work to get all of us there. They don’t like it any more than I ever did but kids are smart and they know that I NEED to go. Hopefully, one day they can understand why I drag them through the obstacle courses that occur when you drag 3 children under age of 7, to the gym and back…you almost don’t need a workout after that. Luckily, they don’t know any different and I can still get away with it. Maybe they will also drag their own kids to the gym one day or at the very least, forgive me for all the professional days and early mornings that they have spent in a gym daycare.
At 16, I was (finally) old enough to go to the classes with my mom. Every once in awhile, she would come to me and say, “You are going to wake up early and come with me to class tomorrow morning.” I would groan at the thought of getting up early – but, truthfully, I never minded waking up for class at the crack of dawn on a Saturday morning while the rest of the household slept in. Did I just learn sacrifice?
I still remember my first class. The Challenger. It was an hour of high intensity, bouncing choreographed aerobics. People would literally stand outside the studio entrance waiting for the moment they could rush in to their ‘spot.’ You could feel the anticipation and excitement in the air. The music started and nobody stopped for the next hour. I chose to stand in the middle row, centre of the room for that particular class. Over the years I have migrated to the front row..it's like home to me. About 30 minutes into the class, the high would hit me. It’s the point where you aren’t sure you can keep going, but you don’t want to stop. It’s better to just keep moving and let your body take over while your mind takes a back seat. It holds you in the moment with no thought for the past or future, and that’s a beautiful thing! When it comes to an end, there is a moment you wish you could do it all again. But, then muscle fatigue sets in, your heart rate lowers and you realize there is not a hope in hell that you can do anymore. Right now, at least!
I floated out of that class. I knew I had found something that I would love back, forever. I felt an immediate connection between my body and mind. I felt at peace with myself, instead of critical. It made me calm and relaxed.. and for someone with hyperactive ADD, that feeling isn’t easy to come by! That feeling is still one of my main motivations for every workout I do. I have come to expect that my mind will settle, my body will slow down and my thoughts become more positive, after a good workout. Back then, it was uncharted territory and that sense of calm was completely unfamiliar.
l conquered that class and it felt incredible. It was a collaborated effort amongst the instructor, the music, and other participants. WE created a magical feeling that lingered in the air. This is still my favourite aspect of group fitness… It doesn’t matter how fit you are - everyone belongs and everyone contributes towards the energy of the group...the "magic."
I rarely have to talk myself into a workout. My biggest challenge at this point in my life, is carving out time and space for my own workouts. And yes, I do fitness for a living so it might seem questionable that I would still need time for my own workouts..but I do. It's my "quiet time," in my head. The place where I can slow my world down for a bit. I crave it and I struggle a bit more on the days when I just can’t fit it in. I recognize that most people don’t feel this way about exercising. I get it. It’s unfortunate because our quality of life depends on the state of our physical and mental health. I believe that exercise holds the key to both. My hope for all my training clients and class participants is that I can help them to discover and experience fitness in a way that makes them fall in love with it. Seeing others fall in love with fitness makes me fall in love with it all over again! thanks for reading ! -Jacqueline