When I was injured on January 17th, I had no idea the roller coaster I was about to ride. It wasn’t that the injury was a surprise. I had been nursing that knee for months and certainly for the few weeks leading up to launch, it was holding on with adrenaline and shear force of will. I knew it was only a matter of time. Over the next several weeks, there certainly were low moments, but what I didn’t expect was how many positives came out of all that down time.
The first thing I noticed was a profound feeling of relief. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was really, really burned out from teaching classes. Other than one week hiatuses for a family vacation here and there, I had been teaching BodyJam (as well as BodyCombat from 2009-2012 and bootcamps for the last three) for almost nine years without a break. I literally hadn’t missed a launch since getting certified in February, 2006. Not one. Not even with an avulsion fracture in my ankle. Not even after a huge shake up at previous gym chain that left me questioning if I wanted to teach at all. Certainly not because my knee hurt – I’d have had to miss every launch for the last 3 years (maybe longer) if that was the case.
This was the break I’d needed for a long time but never took out of what I saw as a sense of responsibility…duty. I cloaked it in commitment, but really, it was more like obsession. It was a drive to prove myself more committed than anyone else, but by January, hell by January 2012, I was tired and too proud to take a break.
On January 17th, my knee decided for me. And the beauty? I didn’t even have to feel guilty (there’s that word again) because it wasn’t a choice. I didn’t choose to step away from teaching, I was forced to and all of a sudden I knew I had needed this break for a long time.
The second positive thing that I noticed not long after going on the DL, was that I had far fewer negative thoughts about my body. FAR fewer. I expected the opposite since I couldn’t workout. I expected to be worried about gaining weight every day…every hour. But I didn’t.
The thing is, as amazing as I feel when I’m teaching BodyJam, and it is BY FAR the most confident version of me, I struggle so deeply with “looking the part.” I would agonize over my outfit choice and usually decide I hated it as soon as I walked into the gym. I would catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and think, “You f***ing fraud.” And launches were the worst for this because then I had to stand next to my beautiful teammates and the feelings of inadequacy were at times overwhelming.
I have body image issues – this is no shock. If you know me or have read almost anything else I’ve written, you know this. I have body issues and I chose a profession where I have to look at myself in a mirror every damn day. I have disordered eating habits and I chose a profession where I have to give (limited) advice on nutrition and healthy living.
The last place an alcoholic should work is a bar, but that’s what I do and that’s what it feels like.
So with this break, I didn’t have any of that shit to deal with. I didn’t have to look hot for class. I didn’t have to try to look hot next to my hot team. I just had to focus on getting better.
The third positive that came out of this experience was this blog and my new company, Change the Tape Fitness, LLC. I love including the LLC. Makes me sound so legit 🙂 But seriously, without hours upon hours of couch-sitting and class-missing, I’d never have gotten CTF off the ground and this blog would still have a total of five random posts ranging from self-help topics to sisterly defense and nothing else.
The last positive is that I have learned that it is okay to focus on myself, my recovery from this injury and on what is truly important to me. I have finally learned it is okay to prioritize myself and my family over teaching a class. I realize now that I often put the wants and needs of the members I teach above my own but worse, above my husband’s and the rest of my family. I won’t be doing that anymore. It doesn’t mean that I love my members any less. It doesn’t mean that I am not committed to my classes. It just means that I have learned to prioritize properly and I am pretty proud of that.
Taking a Knee isn’t over. It probably never will be. Last I checked, this knee isn’t regenerating cartilage so odds are I’ll have more to say on the topic. I may have been cleared by Dr. SM to teach, but I know – and if I didn’t, taking last Monday’s launch class made it abundantly clear – I’m not ready quite yet. I will be though, I’m hoping that’s the final positive on this journey.
Nine Years of Jam