Strong Body ♥ Strong Heart

It came together because I stopped.

"I give up," I said.

"I surrender," I said.

"I don't know," I said.

It was true. I didn't know. I had worked at Sound Mind & Body Gym for 13 years. It was my first job after college.

So when the owners of the gym gave us two months notice that the space had been sold and would be remodeled into offices for a software company, I was panicked.

I began searching for a new place to operate my personal training business, but what I found was either too dirty, too small, too loud, too dark, filled with broken equipment, operated by seedy management, charging way too much for rent or paying their personal trainers far less than a living wage.

I tried to make these places work. I needed my job after all.

“It’s just temporary,” I told myself.

“Your clients will overlook these less than ideal conditions,” I told myself.

“Don’t be so particular,” I scolded myself.

But it was more than me just being too particular. The options in front of me tightened my throat, collapsed my chest, fogged my mind. After leaving one of these places, I described to a friend feeling as though I was wearing a musty, polyester bodysuit with a hood and inescapable booties and tight-fitting mittens.

It might sound dramatic, but it’s not. The soul speaks with the body, through the senses. It is visceral. We know decisions are right when they feel good, and wrong when they feel like we are a wearing a musty, polyester bodysuit with a hood and inescapable booties and tight-fitting mittens. Destiny reveals itself this way. How our bodies respond tells us whether we are in sync with or veering away from our true calling.

You know what I did next in my job search, of course.

I did what any Protestant-work-ethic-engrained, fear-fueled American would do: I ignored the messages my body and soul were clearly sending me.

With the mantra, “Don’t be lazy. Don’t be foolish. Don’t be picky. You’ve gotta suffer. You’ve gotta work,” repeating in my mind, I signed a contract at that gym that made me feel like I was wearing a musty polyester jumpsuit with a hood and inescapable booties and tight-fitting mittens.

I bet you can guess what I did after that.

I picked a fight with my boyfriend, of course.

Then I had a nervous breakdown, complete with tears that blinded and sobs that choked and convulsions that shook my entire body.

I suffered through the night without sleep. The next morning I was lifeless.

But then something else happened: I noticed I was breathing. I felt the tiniest expansion of air in my chest, noticed the smallest sliver of spaciousness between my ribs. I focused there and kept attention with my breath.

“What should I do?” I asked my body.

“Stop,” it said. 

And that’s when I said, “I give up. I surrender. I don’t know.”

I walked to my computer and composed an email to my clients. I told them that I did not know where or if I would be continuing my personal training business after Sound Mind & Body Gym closed on March 31st. I explained that I had not found a place that I believed in, a space that would allow me to do my work in a way that I could be proud of. I explained that I decided to stop until I found such a place. I would live off my savings until I did.

This was the morning of March 14th.

Although I had decided to stop, life did not. It’s what life does. It keeps going.

A couple hours later, at exactly Noon, I met with my first client of the day. She greeted me by saying, “I want you to come look at this room in my house. Maybe you can use it to see clients until you find something else.”

“OK,” I said. I had no other options.

At 6pm that evening, I walked into the basement of my client’s home. It was damp and cold. Cobwebs hung in the corners. Air rushed through small cracks between the windows and the walls. Wires hung from the ceiling, frayed and unconnected. The cement floor was cracked and uneven. When I saw it, every cell in my body exclaimed, “This is it! Your place! Yes!”

After thousands of dollars and countless hours of preparation, I began seeing clients in that small basement space on May 5th.

Today, I am astounded. The studio is sweet and inspiring, more than I could have ever dreamed. My clients love it. My businesses has grown to capacity and beyond. I pinch myself daily.

As for my client, the woman who has allowed me to rent that space in her house? Oh my! I can never thank her for what she has give me: A place to pursue my destiny, to do my work. I could go on about her for days. Her generosity, her beauty, her vision, her spirit, her dedication. I will not, however, out of respect for her privacy.

I will say, however, she is a remarkable painter, a true artist.

Also, she has opened her home and her heart not only to me, but to my incredible clients who continue to amaze, delight and inspire me daily. Big growth is happening here.

Below are some photos of the transformation and these first several weeks of working. I hope you enjoy them.

More than anything, I hope you never forget your body, your spirit, your deepest longings. Don’t be afraid to follow your destiny, even when it is scary and the path is unclear. Be brave, because you are and you can.