Comfort Zone

This week, decided to try something, and I pushed myself completely out of my comfort zone. Again. I got up early in the morning and drove across town to attend a CrossFit class at a community gym where I periodically teach yoga, but very seldom join them for their brand of workout.

You see, I have taken exactly ONE class like this before. Probably about halfway through that initial attempt, I felt completely defeated as I looked around and saw everyone doing what I felt was better than me. Sweating less. Lifting more weight. Completing more repetitions. I felt like I didn’t belong. While, in reality, no one made me feel that way, it didn’t matter. All that mattered was that in my head I felt weak and embarrassed. I felt like I wasn’t good enough. As a result, it has been years since I was willing to return to that place and give it another try.  

As I drove to class, I ran through a long list of “what ifs”. What if I didn’t know anyone and felt out of place? What if I knew everyone and they judged my performance? What if I didn’t know what to do? What if I couldn’t finish? What if I felt like I failed again? And there in that moment, I decided to alter my perspective. What others think of me did not need to be the focus. While this did not entirely stop the voice of doubt in my head, it opened up the door for the possibility of success. What if I do better than last time? What if I decide my best is good enough for now?

As the warm-up began and I began to noticeably sweat, I chuckled to myself while I struggled to coordinate my jumping jacks and “burpees.” Fifteen minutes in, the real work began. I found out that this was a particularly special day where we would complete 100 repetitions of ten different exercises. That is 1,000- yes 1,000- reps of push ups, ball slams, burpees and other exercises that were foreign to me. As I approached my 30th knee-down push-up, my arms, legs and core burned, but instead of feeling defeated, I reveled in a feeling of accomplishment from the things that I was able to do.

As I continued to move through portions of each set, I found myself contemplating the difference between the first class and this one. What made the challenge somewhat enjoyable as opposed to dreaded? In that moment I realized that it mainly came down to one thing.

Our willingness to put ourselves into new and uncomfortable situations and to do so with an openness towards fail can make a difference. Frankly, for most of the class, I did not know what to do, but, that did not matter. I only finished about half of the total workout, but again, that was inconsequential. Just because I did not complete 100% of the reps… just because my form may not have been perfect… did not mean that this experience was a failure.

It is natural to feel nervous about attempting something new, especially when you acknowledge there is a chance you may not succeed. As a yoga teacher, I am definitely not exempt from these feelings. There is a comfort in knowing what to expect and that you will be successful. It is not always easy to step out of the comfort zone and into the unknown, but win or lose, with an openness to the unknown, we stretch our abilities and perhaps discover that we are capable of more than we ever imagined possible.

Try something new. Challenge yourself to stretch your boundaries. Make it an adventure. Worst case scenario… it is not for you. A better case: you walk away with a sense of achievement …and perhaps some very sore muscles.

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