The woman I’ve been training with is an artist of pain. Her sunny, low-key disposition is at odds with the creatively hellish maneuvers she puts me through, many involving nothing more than my own body weight and a timer. “Are you feeling that?” she often asks as I’m partway through a set, and I always gasp-laugh in response. Am I feeling this? “In your core,” she smiles. My core, sure. I mean, it’s hard to tell because I’m spiraling into a dark tunnel and all my dead relatives are awaiting my arrival, but yeah. Core, spleen, eyelashes, mitochondria: I am feeling it.

What I think about later is how that feeling stays with me for hours. I don’t mean the pleasant ache of taxed muscles (although yes, that’s there too, a gentle tugging anchor to the now), I mean the aliveness of it. The brief journey into exclamation marks and primary colors that cuts through the muffle, pushes aside the cotton batting of my day.

I come home and it’s back to the deadlines, errands, laundry, cleaning, pickups and dropoffs. My tiny world spinning away, with the exact same scenery always looming into view. It’s been far too easy to succumb to centripetal force, pressing ever inward. Am I here? I can’t tell. The space for me has almost disappeared.

Maybe that’s what I am trying to do with exercise these days, along with the vain things and the healthy things and the I-remember-how-good-this-used-to-be-for-me-why-did-I-backslide-so-much things. When I push myself past my limits, I change my scope. I take up more room. I feel present in a way I haven’t felt for a long time.

Comments

14 Responses to “Space”

  1. Valerie on October 26th, 2013 7:31 pm

    Wow, I needed this. I have a race coming up in two weeks that I am not ready for. On my run today i was trying to figure out a way that I could push through on race day. These few short paragrahs make me feel like I can do it. Thank you!

  2. Sarah on October 26th, 2013 9:48 pm

    So glad thread you rediscovered something that makes you feel alive.

  3. J.A. from Amsterdam on October 27th, 2013 1:41 am

    “My tiny world spinning away, with the exact same scenery always looming into view. It’s been far too easy to succumb to centripetal force, pressing ever inward. Am I here? I can’t tell. The space for me has almost disappeared.”… filing that thought away to think of… later.

  4. kathleenicanrah on October 27th, 2013 5:03 am

    I’m a personal trainer for pre/postpartum women, and this sums up why I find working with women, with moms specifically, so much better than any other population. It’s more than just push ups, I can see that the time spent exercising gives them something else- autonomy, control, a place where they are someone else’s sole focus and concern. Thanks for sharing this Linda.

  5. anne nahm on October 27th, 2013 8:57 am

    Love this.

  6. Shilo on October 27th, 2013 10:44 am

    Gorgeous writing Linda! Now I need to go exercise.

  7. Lisa on October 27th, 2013 12:14 pm

    I work for a big company & we have a gym on site. I eat lunch at my desk so that I can escape to the gym a few times a week- to take a yoga class, or to do cardio or strength training on my own. It feels so good to take that hour- to escape my deadlines and the needs and requests of all my clients & co-workers. It’s one of the few things I do just for me. We all owe it to ourselves to take that time. We are worth it.

  8. Becky on October 27th, 2013 6:27 pm

    What Lisa said…exactly. Oh the wonders hot yoga does for my mind set. And really is it the yoga? Probably not…it’s the fact that I have one hour that I am focusing on me and ONLY ME.

  9. Kim on October 28th, 2013 5:46 am

    As per usual, you put things into words that transform everyday situations into poetry. I’ve long wanted to try a personal trainer but in the meantime, I curse and sweat and cry and triumph to Jillian Michaels DVDs. The pain is terrifying/wonderful and I look forward to it every day.

  10. H on October 28th, 2013 6:38 am

    Beautifully put.

  11. Emma on October 28th, 2013 6:39 am

    You have such an amazing ability, talent, to put words to thoughts that I would never be able to wrap my brain around or even be aware of – yet are so true and REAL when you write them. For me, for so many other women and moms who are lucky enough to have found your blog. Thank you for waking me up and giving me something to pontificate besides grocery lists and swim practices and laundry.

  12. willikat on October 28th, 2013 7:17 am

    I haven’t been to yoga since my pregnancy (and that was only a couple of times.) Soooo, 18 months. I’m really starting to feel some of the things you’re talking about here. That retreating ever inward, until there isn’t space. I’m hoping after next week (I’m going freelance! Quitting the “day job”!) I will find an hour here or there to take a class and get on the mat and “do the work” as one of my favorite instructors says.

  13. Julia on October 28th, 2013 6:30 pm

    This was so great. You put words to something totally new to me. Not kidding- has anyone else seen this connection between working out to within an inch of your life (I know, so to speak,) and the notion of Taking Up Space? Love it. Maybe it’s the physical version of Flow, and Flow through the feminist lens. Regardless, this post was awesome and trenchant and you knocked it out of the park with this musing. Well done!

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