The real kind of strong

Writing about exercise is tricky, and you all know my thoughts about skinny talk. When it comes to women and working out, I tread lightly. I know that when other women discuss when they work out, and how they work out, I start to think that I'm not doing enough. 

She goes to yoga three times a week? 

Wait, you joined Crossfit?

A half marathon? And you're only three months postpartum? Gosh, I'm feeling lazy. 

Here's what I know about myself: I'm a go-getter. Disciplined, at times, when it comes to something I want. A list maker. A goal setter. So when other women accomplish athletic feats, it's easy for me to wonder why I'm not. 

Back in the day before children woke me up at 6am, I used to run 4-5 times per week. Not to compete, not to achieve, but because I enjoyed the sport. These days, with a husband who leaves the house early and children who want waffles at sunrise, it's not as easy to make fitness goals happen. I'm finding that regularly exercising requires careful planning with my calendar..and...wait for it...a YMCA membership.

While I'd much prefer a sunrise beach run, the YMCA treadmill and a (mostly) senior yoga class are pretty good runner ups. And you know what's interesting? The more time I spend at the YMCA, the more I love going. Because every time I'm there I'm reminded that strength and beauty are not exclusive to perfectly toned Lululemon bodies. At the YMCA there are people from all walks of life--young and old, strong and disabled.

The 70 year old ladies in my pilates class aren't baring washboard abs, but they radiant confidence.

The teenager with Down Syndrome might not be using the stair climber correctly but she's got incredible grit.

The man swimming with only one arm isn't quite ready for a triathlon but he's much stronger than I am.

I still occasionally attend yoga classes at fancy studios, they're a great workout after all, and I'd  love to check that post-babies half marathon off my list. But I'm so glad for reminders that exercise and fitness aren't about big achievements or perfectly toned arms. Exercise is simply showing up. Moving our bodies. Setting small goals that work for us. 

Thanks, N'tima, for sharing this commercial with me!