On Maya Angelou, working out, failure and cardio as contrition

The whole world mourns the loss of Maya Angelou today, at least, my entire world, heart and soul is heavy knowing she has left this earth.  Her 1969 coming of age autobiography,  “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings” is perhaps the most influential book of my entire life. I was a young girl when I first picked up a copy, unaware of what I would discover on those pages and how her story would impact me as a reader and lover of words for decades to come. How does the death of this treasure of a woman have to do with my fitness journey?  Today, a lot.


I felt pretty good though retrospective when I arrived at the gym. Adam was in his usual good mood and we got right to upper body strength work which I secretly (ok, no secret now) love/d. (I may have changed my mind). I like seeing the progress of my workouts and making my biceps dance! (TMI – sorry).   Bench presses – bam. But, then something happened.  I tried to do  pushups off the bench and failed so we went over to the bars. Okay. As I playfully cursed this difficult step, Adam said “You are going to hate what’s next. Let me get my clip board.”   Huh? I incorrectly assumed he was going to take notes about my amazing progress.

See this?  I cannot do that. That’s Adam, my personal trainer over at Anytime Fitness Lyndale. He makes everything look easy.


Adam demonstrates an exercise

I thought I was going to actually cry from the lack of being able to even START this exercise. Down right fail.  Goal:  toes on clipboard, pull self across the floor by the palms of the hands.  I could barely hold myself up let alone make movements. I absolutely did not move and my body failed to listen.  I did not do it incorrectly. I could not do it at all.  Adam extended his hand, helped me up and we went to another exercise.


Exhausted from the hard work

But he did improvise for me and came up with another version. No clipboard but walk across the floor and back on my hands and toes. I screamed in my head. My hands could hardly hold up my torso, and my legs wanted to push my arms out of the way.  There was no scolding, no yelling, no cursing, swearing or laughing but there was Adam encouraging me.  I don’t recall feeling as low as I did today, failing as hard I as did today. But I did find comfort in knowing a young man did not shame me but gave me his hand and told me I tried and he was proud of me.  Adam also reminded me that I was uncomfortable, unsure of myself and that my body wasn’t cooperating because my mind wasn’t trusting I could do it.   That was a life lesson.  When we are unsure of ourselves, we fumble. And, if we are lucky, we have someone near who roots for us no matter how well do we fumble. I fumbled well today. Still, in my success in fumbling, I wallowed in my failure.

Then I stood up, took a drink at the water fountain and rode the recumbent bike for 30:01 minutes. I hadn’t planned on that.


Cardio as contrition

Dr. Angelou’s poem “Phenomenal Woman” was in my thoughts as I drove home from the gym.



About Balzer's Journey

At age 52, I was prompted to start the journey to better health. It's not my cup of tea but neither is tea. I like food, wine, coffee and all the fun stuff but it's caught up to me. I buried my Dad when he was only 52. I want many more years ahead so I've found a personal trainer to kick my chubby butt. Thanks for reading and I'd love to hear your stories!
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