They were frustrated. I was harsh and impatient, which was really just a cover for the truth that I was about to melt to the floor in a blubbering puddle.
I had been certain that the ladies of my small group training class would be delighted by the strength circuit that I put together and lovingly titled “The Heroine’s Journey.”
They did not.
Mostly they were confused.
What exercise comes next?
How many reps am I supposed to do?
I can’t hear you. Why is the music so loud in here?
The first week at my new training home, Northwest Fitness Project, was tough. One of the lowest points of the transition was watching the the looks on the faces of these women that day, women I have trained for years, women whom I adore.
One of my passions is bringing groups of women together to move and lift and learn about their bodies in an environment that is supportive and healthy, not influenced by the diet industry or fitness fads, not obsessed with aesthetics, not overly competitive.
And one of my greatest feelings of accomplishment at my old studio, The Institute of Moves, Muscles & Eternal Optimism, was that I had created a space where women of all ages and body shapes felt safe, celebrated, successful and free to shine.
That first week, as I watched the ladies of my Strong Woman Society express confusion and frustration, my heart broke. Was I failing my ladies having chosen a new studio that was significantly different in aesthetic and tone?
Even though I know better than to sink into dramatic story lines, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was watching my career crumble in front of my eyes.
For the rest of the week, I kept this as my mantra: I have the capacity to handle whatever life brings my way. Besides, on a personal level I was really enjoying my new working environment. I could see already the vast potential for me to grow and learn in this space.
So every time my thoughts went toward demise, I pledged to move forward with a light heart and optimism. I pledged not to let the bumps of transition rock me. I pledged to trust my instincts. I pledged not to worry if clients chose to stop working with me. I pledged to have faith, that if some people did fall away, it was the right thing, that new people ~ better suited for me and for where I growing ~ would show up.
A week went by and it was time again for our Strong Woman Society class.
In walked Laurie. She wore a pink T-shirt on which she had hand painted the circuit outline of The Heroine’s Journey workout that had caused so much trouble for us all the week before.
We hollered and laughed. What a perfect surprise! Laurie changed the tone, demonstrated the power of keeping your sense of humor, the magic of turning your struggle into art.
“Transitions are so hard and sneaky,” Laurie wrote me in an email, responding to my thanks for what she had done. “We can't predict exactly how they are going to bite us. Thank goodness that humor is our friend -- I learned that from some of the awesome young people with whom I worked for so many years.”