A Beating Heartby Samantha Evans on 01/15/20
I joined the YMCA without truly comprehending that attending the Y meant returning to an exercise routine.
Night One: Zumba. Imagine any chick flick dancing scene and I was the character five steps behind everyone else, turning the wrong direction and nearly colliding with other participants.
Night Two: My daughters loved the Kid's Place so much, they asked if we could return. "But then I would have to exercise again," I told them. Thirty minutes later I checked them in to the Kid's Place and wandered up to a HIIT class. Ha ha.
I gained 30 pounds in 2019. No one blames me. Anyone in my circumstance likely would have found herself in the same situation. Nonetheless, I've discovered that jumping jacks, which I'd never classify as "fun" to begin with, are even less "fun" while holding an extra 30-lb. pack of flour.
Despite my out-of-shape-ness, I grinned like a fool throughout the entire class. The smile might have been evidence of strain or the circulating thought that the class instructor was insane. Or possibly, my mouth was stuck because every other muscle in my body was overloading my circuit board. You expect us to accomplish, what, exactly?
But also, I've not participated in group excersise classes for six years. I exercise so much more effectively when I can simply stroll into a room, accomplish--or attempt--the impossible feats an instructor poses and limp away at the end.
Especially now in this stage of life, six months after Clint's death, my thoughts hum like the static on a television. I used to have opinions and a brain. Now, I find myself struggling to accomplish simple tasks--like checking my voicemail. I finally dialed voicemail today (January 15): "You have 23 new messages. First message, December 17th." I cringed.
Another attribute of hardcore exercise that I appreciate is by pushing my body to the limit, all extraneous thoughts taper off, leaving only the impossible demands of my loca and locamotive instructor, a unique blend of drill segeant and encourager. The crummy consequence is that whenever I stop, or my body declares mutany (whichever comes first) life thoughts rush in as if the Federal Dam on the Hudson River exploded.
I laid on my back on the mat after reintroducing my abs to one another. My heart pounded, pounded, pounded. The endorphine high had not yet HIIT my sysytem. I felt slightly nauseous after pushing my body to the brink. I pressed my palm into my thundering sternum, feeling my jumping jack pulse--and then the thoughts.
No, no no, no, no.
But it was too late. The memory invaded and latched on.
I stared at my husband's sleeping form. Discomfort pinched his eyebrows together, even in sleep. His too-loud voice, which filled any space he occupied had vanished weeks prior and silence swelled between us. "I'll miss you," I whispered. "I love you." I pressed my hand into his sternum, searching for the tired ventricular rhythm. Slower. More difficult to feel today than yesterday. I closed my eyes and wept. And I prayed for my husband's heart to fail.
Tears mingled with the sweat on my forehead. I held my hand to my heart once more and lingered on the implications of a beating heart. Responsibilities. The responsibility to live.
I "jumped" up from the mat. In actuality, I rolled onto creaking, protesting knees and lumbered to my feet. The concentration required to stand after a grueling workout swept into my mind's forefront. I grabbed my gear and headed down the stairs toward the Kid's Place to retrieve my beautiful, energietic responsibilites.
Spiritually, I am lying on my back, muscles protesting, heart-drumming. God and I have a quiet understanding at present. As my fitness instructor. He's in the room near me, but knows it best to leave me "alone." Despite the silence we find ourselves in, God's word still reaches the fragile places within me. His love resonates with my beating heart and refreshes me with hope and longing for communion with Him.