I walked into the gym eager to hop on the elliptical, excited to get lost in my music and to get a great workout in. Ten minutes into my workout, I saw something I have never seen before that brought a whole new meaningful experience into my day. A blind student with his guide dog walked into the recreation center. He slowly walked to the exercise bike with his great guide-dog walking by his side. Other students at the gym watched as the student secured his dog’s leash around the neck of the exercise bike, and he slowly climbed onto the bike finding where to place his feet. His guide-dog laid down for a nap as he pedaled away. He smiled as the manager of the recreation center walked over to him for a friendly conversation. Sweating away on the elliptical, I couldn’t help myself but smile while I watched this. I was encouraged and inspired by this image, and it made me reflect further upon what I’ve been thinking about lately. Fitness is more than physical. Why do you work out? Why do you run, walk, go to the gym, lift weights, do yoga, zumba, or whatever it is you do? Or, better yet, why don’t you work out? Why don’t all people take time to take care of themselves by improving the quality of their lives through physical activity and healthy dietary habits?
Fitness can be a life changing experience. Whether someone has a disability, is missing a leg, has a disorder, or seems to be perfectly healthy- Exercise and healthy dietary habits can benefit us all in many ways. That statement might seem obvious, but I think that many of us tend to dread working out and eating healthy because we think we need to strive for perfection. There are so many fad diets, meal plans, and exercise regimens out there that make us think we need to follow them to be a certain way. These things blind us to the real meaning of fitness- Balance. Fitness is more than just physical, it takes many roles and has many meanings. Here are some that I have thought of:
1. Balance: Fitness is the balance of my life. It allows me to feel how strong my body was, is, and can be. It allows for a challenge, but also a way for me to de-stress. I think many of us try to reach fitness by trying to be “perfect”. We might try to commit to meal plans and workout plans, but fail to do so and therefor think we have failed at reaching “fitness”. Fitness is not about being perfect. You don’t have to follow strict regimens and plans to be the ultimate you. Fitness is about reaching you’re healthy balance, and you’re healthy balance may be slightly different from someone else’s.
2. Joy: Fitness brings immense appreciation and joy to my life. To be able to go outdoors for a run, filled with fresh air, scenic views, next to my good ole yellow retriever dog, either with my headphones in or just trotting to the sound of my breath & the thump of my Asics in the dirt. That is joy. My feet have led me around my neighborhood block thousands of times, and I am blessed for that.
3. Commitment: Fitness is a commitment to myself. I do my best to workout and eat healthy because I love and respect my self, right here, right now. It reminds me that, although I love who I am now, I can always be a better me. There is always a new door to open, a new opportunity to see, and a new vision that I can reach. I’m not striving for perfection, I am balanced, and I am committed to treating myself right mentally and physically.
4. Self Love: One of the biggest aspects of fitness for me, is Self Love. I haven’t always had it, but it is something that everyone deserves. I honestly believe that we cannot truly reach fitness without it. Because fitness is about all of these things- Balance, Joy, Commitment, Self-respect, reaching challenges, and enhancing our minds, bodies, and souls. You have to love who you are in order to be the best you.
5. Healing: Fitness is a way to improve and heal the mind, body, and soul. Endorphins improve my attitude, sweating out toxins makes me feel new, finishing a workout makes me feel accomplished, stretching helps recover my muscles, and rewarding myself with healthy nutrients keeps me going. Exercise should be an overall positive, and healing experience for all of us.
6. Empowerment: Fitness is so empowering. With the balance, commitment, self love, and joy that I feel from my daily fit activities, I am completely empowered as a person. These things make me want to be better, and I have a strong desire to share the benefits of fitness with the people around me. Fitness has shown me that: If you have a vision, you can reach it. Each and everyone one of us has everything that we need inside of us, we just have to find the power to see that.
I don’t know who this blind student was, but if anyone is an example of how commitment, self-respect, joy, balance, and empowerment relate to fitness- it’s him. And in the privacy of my mind, I thank him for reminding me again of these immeasurable aspects of fitness.
I hope you all have a wonderful Thursday. 🙂