My friend Jared has a gym membership to the Ritz of all gyms and was generous enough to let me use one of his guest passes on probably one of the busiest gym days in the nation, January 2nd. On the 2nd the hangovers have worn off and people are tired of sitting on their mom’s couch and perpetually snacking on peanut butter balls averaging 250 calories per bite and have finally decided that this is the year they will get fit. The whole western world shows up at the gym or on a hiking trail with their new inspiring and expensive workout gear rehearsing pinterest blurbs like “believe in yourself and you will be unstoppable”. Whether or not the quotes are actually true is an aside to the inspiration itself.
I’m generally pretty active but I mostly run and could use a little toning so this gym was great motivation. I showed up the only person not in lulu lemon I’m sure, but my nikes were passable if you didn’t notice that hole where my pinkie toe is. I pumped the fresh lemon juice over my crushed ice and topped it with cold water, dropped my bags in the locker and headed to the workout class to meet Jared and his wife Ellyn. I had an icy eucalyptus towel on my neck for good measure, although I could just as well have placed it on my eyes and laid by the pool for the day, but that’s for another time.
I was believing in myself and feeling good. Round one my form was flawless, all thousand of the squats we did I had perfectly timed with the music and even had time to laugh at the peppy trainer. He kept trying to instill competiveness in us by telling us to keep up with him, then he would do the skate lunge move as if he were actually on a skating rink which really just bugged the hell out of me. We were all believing real hard in ourselves and still no one in the history of the world could have kept up with him.
By round two I was believing in my arms, that they would stop shaking, that they could do another push-up, that they would not give out and leave my face to catch the fall, that I would NOT throw up. You know I really hate push-ups anyways. I inherited my dad’s shoulders and muscles, and would really prefer not bulk them out any further so that I could be asked a few more times if I was a swimmer growing up. If you’re wondering, no I wasn’t, I almost die every time I’m in the pool. Trever is always staring at me when I’m in the deep end like he might need to jump in and do a rescue. It’s fine, I’m ok with the doggy paddle and it’s good for my lungs to inhale a bit of water once in a while.
I was contemplating this bit of life’s ironic cruelty and I had an epiphany! It’s like the gates of heaven opened up to tell me that even though Ellyn didn’t give up, “YOU CAN! You’re working really hard in that child’s pose Brooke, good for you.” They say acceptance is the first step, so I accepted that my arms will always be flabby and I smiled to myself in my great abilities to give up and be lazy, it takes a lot of self-control to be that relaxed. Peppy trainer and Ellyn will never understand the euphoric bliss that comes with surrender, they'll just keep toning their biceps and exuding a highlighter bright glow from their endorphins.
Thus emerged one of life's great lessons, believe in other people, not yourself. They're probably better than you and you are a terrible standard to hold yourself to. Keep up with Ellyn, she would never give up and stay in child's pose, she would just keep doing the push-ups. Keep doing the push-ups.