Knock Down the Walls of "Comfortable"

There’s a certain amount of stability we develop in our daily routines, no matter how monotonous, that stick our feet into the ground.  While this comfort feels, well comfortable, we can fall victim to believing that we shouldn’t move.  To say I am comfortable at my homebase training facility, HiFi Fitness, would be an understatement.   I know who I am going to see, how I am going to feel, and almost exactly what to expect each day.  Surrounded by brightly painted walls, top of the line equipment, and lululemon everything, I am perfectly at ease.  But was I satisfied?  Not anymore.   After hours of coaching others at a place I call home, I can lack the passion I want to bring, not only my own workouts, but also to expanding my vision for my own business.  While I have justified this position over the past couple of months, I have reached a rut; and I’ve been here before.  The avoidance of “discomfort” became a roadblock.  Winston Churchill once said “This is no time for ease and comfort. It is time to dare and endure”.

I had almost forgotten about the place that pushed me outside of my comfort zone only 5 years ago.  I sought out a new goal in an unknown territory, in training for my first figure competition at USA Gym.  I ventured to a place that made me feel a little awkward and unsure of myself at first; but I needed that place where I was told to push harder, move faster, and dream bigger.  The gym itself was anything but comfortable:  In the winter there’s a rubber mat for members to leave their construction work boots.  In the summer, you better dress light or hope for a breeze; AC is a luxury, long-forgotten, but the garage door will be cracked and a firehouse fan will take care of your cool-down.  Bottom line, I might be the only lululemon you’ll see.  The walls are covered with trophies and signs telling you things like “pain is just weakness leaving the body.”  The soldered-off dumbbells always seem to be about 5lbs heavier than what they say—and you’re going to lift them for a few more reps than you’ve ever imagined.   The mentors I found, not to mention the very environment of USA gym, pushed me outside of complacency.  If I wanted more, I had to reach for it.  I learned to be willing to experience some sense of discomfort, if expected to achieve growth. 

This gym began to symbolize my grounds for change.   This pivotal year marked the start of my own business, completion of my first figure competition, and the start of a new relationship.  It’s where I prepared for every competition going forward and created a vision for myself that allowed confidence to permeate everything I did.  This is where I was told I was a star…and after a few years of encouragement, this is where I began to believe it.  This is where I’ve been brought to tears during a military press, thrown-up during a squat-sprint-lunge-box jump and who –can-even-remember- what-else superset, and face-planted on  “one more” push up, more times than I can count.  This is where I broke limits and discovered new possibilities.

As many of you know, I’ve been on sabbatical this year from the competition world.  This decision also took away my trips out to USA Gym.  I did not feel the need to drive 45min each way, if I was no longer competing.   Unsure of whether I’d ever step on stage again, I was excited to coach a client and dear friend, Natalie, through her first bikini competition.  After 12 months of competition-scene absence, I set foot into my old stomping grounds with Natalie this November. 

I could not have guessed what I would feel over that competition weekend.  After about 20 min of feeling detached and like a “washed up athlete” in that world, I threw my self-doubt aside.  The next several hours turned into an energetic dance of seeing old friends, talking “bodybuilding” shop, connecting business partnerships, and yes, considering my own stage revival.  I felt my confidence set fire and remembered what this group of certified gym rats meant to me!  I drove out to USA Gym within four days to train, and realized this place was never just a gym for me, it was my sanctuary. 

I realized, it doesn’t matter whether or not I choose to compete.  The pressure to be at the absolute top of your game can sometimes be debilitating—pushing yourself to be better is not about the deadline; it ‘s about the journey.  I needed to take myself out of my everyday blur and go to the place that reminds me how to dream big.  This can be a living metaphor for anything.  Very simply, after a long day at the office, when you might not have eaten your best and you start telling yourself, “I’m exhausted, so it would be a shitty workout anyway…”, check your excuses at the door.  Reach for a little discomfort.  It might just be the best workout of the week.  Even if it’s the worst, you KNOW you’re going to feel better for showing up.  Let it be a time to wash away the stresses of the day and clear your thoughts.  And on a higher plane, find your USA…that place that opens your mind, be it a location, person, activity…or all things combined.  Take yourself there and let down your walls of excuses or justification of “why not”.  It might be a little uncomfortable at first, but when you start to believe in the greater you, it will become home.

Special thanks to Chuck Sanow, Maurice Black, and the USA Gym crew