I do not know if you have ever experienced this in another gym or fitness club, but when you have fellow “athletes” encouraging you to not give up when facing a challenge, that is priceless. You can say is a “cult” but as my good friend Jorge Castro says, it is a culture. The culture of standing up beside your fellow athletes not caring if he/she is fit or not and say: “Hey we can do this together, this time next year”, and call each other to see if we are going to be able to work out together.
This is not a gym where I go, and exercise. This is not a place where I am one of the thousand members they want to have in order to increase their revenue. I am not just a number. This is a place where in the midst of my doubts and insecurities I can feel that I can do it, and that I am not alone. Only in a place like this I have experienced people like Mandy who is one of the strongest ladies I know, but with a huge heart to encourage others. When I think about her I think about the quote that says, “ Strong people do not put others down, they lift them up”. She always has the right words to say every time she has a chance: “You are doing this! You get the cants out of your head. You know you can, your coaches know you can, and all you have to do is trust and obey. You will finish that 5k. Even if you run/walk. You don’t give up because you don’t feel like you can’t. You have to kick it in drive and go. Do what you gotta do. But am so proud of you. Baby steps. Just keep your head up”, she wrote on a Facebook comment.
And then there is the complete stranger, someone who suddenly appears every time you post a thank you note in one of your coaches’ pages. She always liked my posts, and once in a while she will say some encouraging words. Then I requested her friend on Facebook, and BOOM! She becomes one of my main encouragers when I decided to run my first 5k. A sixty something lady that has set an example of perseverance and endurance; I cannot say no to her. She could easily be one of my sisters, and today she said responding to my post about my up coming 5k and the fear I had about it: “ Stop it!! You can do it. You can put one foot in front of the other and make it. You don’t have to run the entire way. Just cross the finish line. Run, walk, run walk, run, walk and let all hell break loose at the finish line. Who cares what your time is. You beat everyone that did not do it”. These are beautiful words from Mrs. Donna Coughlin Huggins even though we have never met in person.
And I cannot even put together a thank you note for my coaches, all of them, from the ones who put up with me in my early days at Iron Tribe, to the ones who recently joined the crew. All of them have not been only trainers, trainers are people who care only about your performance, but my coaches care about my life as well. I know they care, so the little I can do to correspond about this, is to care about them as well, and fill their cup as much I can by appreciating the work they do.
I am so sorry but I cannot think of another place where I know I can be who I have always wanted to be, not only by myself, but by the strength, encouragement, solidarity, and friendship from others who are, as me, trying to improve their lives. Of course this place is not perfect, not everybody who comes here has the same mentality, and attitude to come and be a team with others. Like always, there many who are individualistic who just think about improving his/her own capacity without thinking about others. There are the ones who will never say hi to you, even if we are seated together in the locker room getting ready to work out. Even today I heard someone complaining about the attitude of another athlete and how he wanted to start a fight with him. Yes, this place is not perfect, but I am not looking for perfection, I am looking for a place where I can be myself with all my weaknesses and strengths. A place where I can joke, and laugh with my coaches, or may be give them a word of encouragement as well. One of my favorite authors and whom I quote a lot said: “Let us not underestimate how hard it is to be compassionate. Compassion is hard because it requires the inner disposition to go with others to place where they are weak, vulnerable, lonely, and broken. But this is not our spontaneous response to suffering. What we desire most is to do away with suffering by fleeing from it or finding a quick cure for It.” ― Henri J.M. Nouwen
Note: I have reached 50lbs LOST. 4 sizes down in my pants and getting closer to count the fifth. Smoke free, and I will be running my first 5k EVER in my life. I know am truly honoring my father’s memory.