Recently, my daughter invited me to join her at an Orangetheory Fitness class. I was reluctant; no, I was scared. It had been many years since I had stepped outside my comfort zone and I knew that was exactly what would happen at OTF. On the other hand, I couldn’t say “no” to any opportunity to spend time with my daughter, especially at her suggestion. So, I went.
My only goal at that first class was to survive and make it to brunch! That was it, brunch. As it turns out, I actually enjoyed it and since that time, I have returned to class with Stacy a number of times, always with the promise of a shared breakfast and coffee following.
This week, while coaching a college student, I found myself drawing from the primary premise of an OTF workout. Each workout includes time on a treadmill when you are instructed to run/walk at various levels of intensity: Base pace (challenging but sustainable), Push pace (uncomfortable), and All Out pace (very uncomfortable). The OTF workout is a perfect metaphor for college life – for all lives. There is a place in our lives and our workouts for all three paces, but finding the right mix is key.
Each of us has a Base pace where we spend much of our time. It is comfortable, relatively routine, and predictable. A Base pace day is restorative and necessary, but relatively unremarkable. After a while, base pace days are redundant, safe, and ultimately unsatisfying. We begin dreaming of, or looking for, something more.
That’s where Push pace comes in. Push pace is achieved once we have added something to our base – we made time to help a friend or colleague, poured our heart into a pending project, or accepted a part-time job. We got out of our comfort zone in an effort to create something new. The discomfort of a Push pace is manageable for a period of time. We are energized, focused, and determined! Ultimately our pace will calm, signifying the completion of the push, or perhaps a higher base pace has emerged as result of our efforts. Boosted confidence, elevated energy, and personal growth are natural byproducts of a Push.
Then there is our severely uncomfortable and unsustainable All Out pace. We are seldom there by our own volition. Something or someone has sent us there and we want out as soon as possible. We are cramming for an exam, in an emergency room with a family member, or completing a marathon (or on a treadmill at OTF :)). When we are in All Out pace we must remain fully present and completely focused. Our only needs are our most basic needs – to breathe and keep going. We get through an All Out period by monitoring our breath and our thoughts. We avoid total meltdown and panic by remembering the times that we have been challenged before and succeeded, recognizing the impermanence of the situation, and having the confidence of knowing that we will once again return to Base.
Just like on the treadmill, when we finish an All Out in life, we have no option but to take a few recovery breaths in an effort to restore our mental and physical strength. That “breath” may look like a slow walk, a day on the sofa with a good book, a weekend getaway, or gap year. But always with the knowledge and fortitude to return to Base and ultimately Push once again.
Live well/Be well