Those two words. They have been said by every man I have ever admired and respected. And every time I have played along, amazing things have happened. From jumping a course of 5' fences on a stallion I had just met, to moving across an ocean to a new country to start a new life with the guy who is now my husband.
This time? This time I am in Tony's gym, standing on an elevated platform with thick bungee cord-type resistance bands attached to a belt on my waist. The entire contraption is called the Vertimax, and the gray bands are creating enough tension that I still feel it during the bottom phase of a regular mattress squat.
|Obviously not me. Photo from the internet. But just so you guys can visualize what I was doing. |
This is the Vertimax model I was using.
Tony stands on the other side of the box, ready to catch me if needed. The man is 6'4" and probably close to 300 lbs, so his ability to catch me is not what I'm doubting.
It's the fact that as I squat down to get ready to jump, my legs scream, "You have GOT to be kidding me!" We are 40 minutes into a 1-hour grueling lower-body workout. I'm already certain I'm going to be walking funny the next day, and we haven't even started jumping yet. And also, box jumps are my nemesis. I admire all the Cross Fitters and hard-core gym peeps that do them regularly because every time I see them, I'm like, "You rock and I admire you so much because my body can't do that."
So yeah. Here I am with a box in front of me to jump, with added resistance to make it even harder. The little negative voice in my head goes, "Fuck this. You can't."
I glance up at Tony, who is waiting. There is no backing out. "You can do this," he repeats.
"Shut the fuck up," I tell the negative voice in my head. I bite my lip, ignore my protesting muscles and force them to contract, exploding up and forward into a jump.
My feet land on the box. SLAM! There is a split second of surprise as I think, "Oh my God! I did it!" But I am immediately pulled backwards onto the platform by the resistance bands. I go with the pull by hopping back down.
"I want you to stay on the box, though!" Tony says.
|Box jumps with the Vertimax. Obviously not me. Photo from the internet.|
Dammit. He grins brilliantly at me.
Snarl. I try again. Same thing.
"Contract your abs as you straighten up," Tony instructs.
It takes four more attempts before I figure out how hard I need to tighten my core and how much I need to straighten my back in order to fight the backwards pull of the resistance bands.
I jump up. Feet slam on the box. Straighten up. Hold for a second.
"GOOD!" Tony says.
Hop back down.
"This is for every man that ever said I could not do something," I think to myself, as I leap up again. For every PE professor that ever said I sucked at sports. Feet slam on the box. For the first trainer at the first gym that didn't think I was capable. Straighten up. For every time I was chosen last for outdoor games because I couldn't even run one lap around the track at school without feeling like I was going to die. Hold for a second. For the first guy I ever liked, who called me fat. Hop back down. Tell me I can't do it. I will show you that I can.
Again. There is an undeniable power in feeling your mind conquer the perceived limits of your body.
And again. Tony never does need to catch me.
"30 second break," my trainer says. He is grinning from ear to ear. Proud.
I'm still strapped onto the platform so he passes me my water bottle.
"So now," he says, "now we are going to do this same cycle, but with the blue cords," he says, swapping out the gray set of bungee-type resistance bands for the blue set, clipping them onto the belt around my waist. The blue bands are the highest resistance.
He steps back to watch my reaction.
"Well, this makes the gray cords feel like I was working against air," I say with a grin, and he starts laughing.
I go through a series of mattress squats, static forward and front lunges, step-ups onto the box with alternating legs, with the end goal of finishing with the box jumps. Holy cow.
Muscle memory is a magical thing, though. While the jumps are definitely harder now, my body now knows how much it needs to tighten my core and how quickly I need to straighten my back in order to resist the pull of the bungee cords. I finish all 10 reps feeling like I'm making it look easy (my legs begged to differ...) I'm unstrapped from the Vertimax and I almost levitate off the platform. Tony laughs.
We weren't done yet. I then got to do 3 sets of 10 reps each of leg extensions and hamstring curls. I didn't even pay attention to what weight Tony set the plates at. I didn't want to know!
And done. I stretch, we set up an appointment for next week. Tony walks me to the door.
"You did a great job today," he says. He means it.
I float back to the car. Because it's either float or stumble...
I had had my body fat % measured that morning. I hover around 20-23% in my "normal" state. The lowest I had ever been was at my fittest, when I turned 29 and was training with a professional bodybuilder. At that time, the lowest I ever got to was 18%. I was positively thrilled!
Today? Today I measured in at 15.8%.
I am 5'4". My weight currently fluctuates between 133 to 139 lbs, depending on time of month, stress levels, and how well I have been sleeping. I am not some skinny waif and I am most definitely not starving.
Today April 16, 2017:
My point? If I can do this, so can you. Don't ever let anyone tell you that you can't achieve something. Not even that little voice in your head bent on telling you that you will fail. Whether it's to try out a new sport, equestrian or otherwise, to lose weight, to find a new job that fulfills you, to succeed at whatever it is that you want to succeed at in life: go out there and do it.
You can do it. You got this.