When I see and admire strength, it is the freedom in which it is exercised that is compelling to me. Now, Facebook is a hassle and a great thing at the same time. It is a hassle because is absorbs so much attention from us, but a great thing because, now more than ever, people are displaying some extraordinary feats. I watched a video from a page called “People Are Awesome.” This video was a compilation of people scaling up rock climbing walls like a real life Spiderman. It was awe-striking for me to see this. Like a Picasso with a stroke of the paint brush.
On the caption of this video it said, “Today’s pain will be tomorrow’s strength.” A true statement when we have defined our own terms of what “pain” and “strength” mean. To me, applied to exercise, pain is described as constriction, and strength can be described as freedom. Today’s constriction will be tomorrow’s freedom. This bothers me. That’s not true.
Constriction can lead to more constriction, especially if one sees the outside world as validation of intrinsic strength. With weightlifting, I see a pattern of constriction that creates a temporary feeling of freedom, sure, but it always compiles up on top of itself. It tends to lead to injuries that generally force people away from working out. This is how exercise does not make sense to the general population. Too much pain, too little strength.
What is it that makes exercise sustainable and fulfilling? Freedom and ease of which a person feels from one moment to the next. What one does with their workouts must match the integrity with other aspects of their life. When all of what you do is balancing itself out, then the freedom and ease is tangible everywhere and we are not distressed so much. Of course, we must be doing what we love for this to triumph; not, we must be doing what we like for those that we love. That is still the compilation of constriction.
I went through a lot of guilt giving up weightlifting the way that I was doing it. I was doing the status quo that wasn’t making me feel good anymore. I was keeping up with it and I looked great, but my energy levels plummeted in times of recovery. This made it difficult to do it again day in and day out. Then, I turned to something I knew nothing about and in the extreme other direction. Yoga.
I’m not promoting any one model of exercise over the other. I just want to show a representation of the mind bend it was for me to transition. Going from weightlifting to yoga is going from ultra-masculine to ultra-feminine. But no matter what my ego told me, I had to loosen up and yoga was the right fit. I felt like a beginner again and that felt great. And, there was so much freedom and ease in it as I practiced more and more.
Today’s pain is not tomorrows strength. No. Simply, today’s strength is tomorrow’s strength. It doesn’t take power or prowess. Often, it requires fragility and new beginnings.
Trey Tompkins is a local resident who writes fitness columns for the Record-Herald.