Push yourself

Photography by  Christopher Campbell

Photography by Christopher Campbell

I signed up for a core workout class in a moment of inflated self-confidence. It was my co-worker who suggested it. We'd have nice flat stomachs for the summer, she promised. 

The class would meet for 16 weeks, twice a week. I could do anything for 16 weeks, I told myself. I had no idea what I was in for. 

As the time for the first class neared, I began to get nervous. I pictured a drill sergeant, bent over my quivering figure as I tried to do one sit up.  

Boy was I relieved when I walked into the multi-purpose room on the first day. There stood our instructor – a petite woman wearing a t-shirt and scrub pants. No military fatigues in sight. 

I looked around at my fellow students, all women. They ranged from 20 something to well past my age. I started to relax. This wouldn't be so bad, after all. 

The workout was a grueling 45 minutes long. We went through one impossible exercise to another.

The next day I could feel every muscle in my torso. They were all mad as hell and let me know it every time I moved. Thankfully I had yoga that night and it helped to work out some of the soreness. 

Before I knew it, it was time for class #2. The room seemed a lot emptier than before. It turns out that several of my fellow students had bailed, including my co-worker.

If you're a regular reader of my blog, you know that when I say I'm going to do something, I'm going to do it, no matter what. For better or worse, I'm in it for the duration, so there was no plan "B" for me. 

Each torturous exercise tested me. I tried my hardest but always had to stop, never completing the set. I'd be done, completely spent, when the instructor would call out, "Give me 4 more reps."

Why 4? Who could say I can't possibly do 4?  It's such a small number. My exhausted body would do as she asked, struggle for those last 4 reps, all the while cussing under my breath. 

In this Monday's class I had a breakthrough. A simple sit up that was so hard at the beginning, suddenly became a possibility. I was regulating my breathing, I was in the zone. Sit up after sit up, I was doing it! I was determined to go the distance, I wasn't going to give up before the instructor told us to stop.

"Darci, that looks too easy," the instructor said, "now do it with your arms folded across your chest."

What? I had just mastered this one exercise and now she wanted to change it, make it harder? Couldn't she let me stay here, comfortable and confident in my new-found ability? 

I blew out a breath and did as she asked. I was back to the beginning, out of my comfort zone, testing my stamina and drive. I strained to get in only a couple of reps of the new harder version, before I gave up.

I realized later that if she hadn't pushed me, it would have been a fleeting victory, only one moment of triumph. With each new challenge, I have an opportunity to master something new, experience that feeling of pride and accomplishment, again and again. 

Every time you reach a goal, push yourself farther, stretch past the point you think you can stretch, get out of your comfort zone, and give me just 4 more reps.