About 7 years ago my life felt like it was falling apart. My kids were going through a challenging time, my parents were circling the drain and, for the first time, my marriage felt hard.
Life had gotten tough.
Looking for something to solve, I thought if I could find someone who would work with my kids to get physically stronger they’d be able to find their inner strength. So I reached out to some personal trainers in the area and connected with one over email. I went to visit him in his gym. He was wearing a big sweatshirt, a wool cap pulled low over his head, and a huge beard covered all but his glasses. The light shining from his eyes were like beacons to me. Curiously, the word JOY was taped up on the wall behind his desk. I don’t know if it was a Christmas decoration - it was red and kind of bubble print - but there it was over his shoulder.
I had never heard of CrossFit, I had no idea what personal trainers did, and I hadn't been looking to join a gym myself but I knew that whatever this guy was doing I wanted to be a part of it. I also realized during our conversation that maybe I was the one needing to find my inner strength. So I signed up on the spot.
It quickly became clear that the only time I was going to be able to get to that gym with three teenagers, a work schedule and a busy life happening back at home was at 5:30 in the morning. It was the only time of day that no one needed or wanted something from me. So I started getting up early and meeting my trainer three times a week. That in and of itself felt impossibly hard. It was dark and cold at 5:30am. I was a night owl and I wasn't used to getting up that early but the house felt challenging enough that leaving every morning was an escape I could embrace.
A few weeks in, however, as I headed to the gym, I felt completely defeated.
I couldn't do any of it.
I couldn't pick up the 45lb weightlifting bar - I could barely lift the 15lb bar. I couldn't do a squat. I couldn't do a push-up, couldn’t even jump rope. I couldn't do anything really.
That morning I arrived at the gym in the dark, my headlights sweeping across the building. I parked feeling tired and done. But I had paid money for these sessions and even if I was comfortable letting down my trainer I was too cheap to lose my money. So I turned off the car, got out and walked to the door. It was then I noticed a little sign over the doorknob, still lit by the headlights of my car.
The sign read: “All we ask is that you get yourself to this door, turn the handle and walk through. We’ll take it from there.”
That I could do. That step was hard enough. But I could do that.
I didn't know then that taking that step three times a week - for what turned out to be three years - would lead to my sobriety, to becoming a personal trainer, to leaving a career in law, to finding my own joy as a life leadership coach, to becoming a better parent, a better wife, a better human. If I had known all those steps were in front of me, I would have stayed in bed. Those steps were too big, too insurmountable, too hard - and I had no hustle left.
But getting to that door, turning the handle and walking through?
That I could do.