The gym is my salvation.

It is how I got hooked on weight lifting over 16 years ago. When I first started my fitness journey I was a scared and insecure 20-something. I was coming out of a bad relationship and dating someone new. While that “someone new” turned out to be my husband, I was very unsure at that time if we were meant to be. I was finishing my degree but had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I’ve always had a complicated family life. I didn’t know where I was going or who I was.

In the gym, however, I found that none of that mattered. In the gym, all I had to do was push, pull or squat. All I had to do was breath. I could put my headphones on and shut out everything around me. In the gym everything made sense. In the gym I learned resilience. I learned to be strong. I didn’t find me, I created me.

Since then, I have observed that when the world starts to spin out of control, people on a fitness journey respond in one of two ways: they default to old bad habits or they deeply embrace their new healthy ones. It’s easy to get caught up in the drama, the misery or someone else’s agenda. Life is full of ups and downs. I get it. I judge no one. for defaulting to the habits we know and find comforting. All I can do is be there for those who need me. If exercise is their lifeline, I’ll throw the rope. I welcome them to the gym as a safe place and a sanctuary.

As 40 approached, I really thought I had it all under control. The gym was about stress relief, a break in the day to do some thinking. It was a restorative niche. I did realize I was in a bit of a rut, which is what first attracted me to the Ultimate Oxygen Challenge. I was ready to try something new. The coach needed a coach. It was about tackling something on my 100 Dreams List and letting someone else take the lead.

After I started the Challenge, however, it became something more. Shortly after we returned from Shanghai, some things in my world started to shift. Turning 40 brought me a renewed sense of self and a discovery of where I want to go. This means new challenges and choices. It means looking at life, work and relationships with a new set of eyes. I’ve seen things that perhaps have been there all along but I never wanted to face.  All of this means change is coming. As we all know, change is very hard. Growth is hard. They are called growing pains for a reason.

A couple of weeks ago, I had a gym epiphany. As I lay on the floor of the gym with jelly legs, replaying a particularly emotional conversation from the night before, it came back to me. It hit me again why I loved strength training from the very start. Tears started to come to my eyes as I realized how much I needed the OxyChallenge. I needed to be in the gym with music blaring, a plan I didn’t have to create and pushing my body in ways I hadn’t in years. I knew no matter what was happening out THERE, in HERE was logical and dependable. I knew here I would find my inner strength and my resilience again. I knew that letting go of control in the gym would help me let go of everything else and bring me peace.

The gym is my salvation. I had forgotten, but now I know. I will weather the storm. I will come out stronger on the other side.

Is the gym your shelter from the storm? Is it where you need to be today?

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