It is a fact of life that most of us can pretty well pinpoint when we hit “bottom” – whether that be emotional, physical, mental, or a combination of all three. The bottom can be deeper and darker for some as compared to others, but no matter the distance to get back to the surface and into the sunshine, we all have this in common: if you want to get out, you have to take the first step. If you are lucky, you have family, friends, or faith to throw you a rope or to reach out a hand – but the key is you have to grab on and also put your own effort into climbing out.
Physically, I hit bottom in January 2014. After years of paying only passive attention to my own health, an excruciating year culminating in the passing of my father more than took its toll. I could feel it. I could see it. I finally decided that it was time to do something about it.
On the recommendation of a close friend, I signed up for Kaia – basically a boot camp for women, run by Kaia Koaches who have a thing for pink tutus and spell every possible word with a “K” (“You KAN do it!”). But, if the workouts were so great that they could get the-smartest-woman-I-know (hi Yali!) to look past the whole“K” thing, then who was I to argue?
And so it was that I found myself in 6:00 am Kaia Klasses where happy, fit Kaia Koaches shouted encouragements as they led us through sets of burpees, jump-squats, pushups, and other forms of unique physical torture designed to make us stronger. And then one day, the sweaty, impossibly hard workout paused for a set of “functional fitness” exercises. I thanked God for a few minutes of respite as I sat down on the floor for a minute’s worth of “get up stand ups”. This exercise is exactly what it sounds like: you sit on your rear, you roll back onto your shoulders, then roll forward to your feet and come up to standing. In short, stand up.
Pfft. Piece of cake.
Except it wasn’t. I couldn’t do it.
And that’s when things really started to change. It was no longer about bathing suit season or trimming a few pounds. It was now about preserving the ability to play on the ground with my children, nephew, and someday grandchildren and being able to get up off the floor. It was about going on vacation and having my family suggest an activity and being able to have the physical ability to say: “yes – I’ll join you!” Hiking? Sure … how far do you want to go? Surfing? Just call me Gidget – let’s catch a wave! Whatever it is you want to do, let’s do it together – except maybe snorkeling, but that has more to do with my irrational fear of yellow tang.
I spent the better part of a year working out with Kaia, getting stronger, and getting it drilled into my head by the coaches that I really could do this, to set my intentions for the day, and to go after it.
I’m on a Kaia sabbatical right now as I focus on running, with my fourth Half Marathon since last fall now on calendar and the NYC Marathon set for November 1. It took a lot of effort to get me from that day on the gym floor to where I am now, and I’m not done yet. But it is important for me to pause and remember that inauspicious beginning, and express thanks to those who lent a hand or offered words of encouragement along the way, especially to those who may not know how much of a difference they made. So, I am taking the time today to say thank you to the coaches. Just so you know, on long difficult runs, I can still hear you telling me that I Kan Do It.
Yes, spelled with a “k”.