my break up with the elliptical machine

I think most people either love working out or really do NOT love working out. I’m among the first group; exercise makes me happy and keeps me sane. It fixes bad days and continually reminds me how much room there is outside my comfort zone.

Over the years I’ve tried it all. Pilates, distance running, hot yoga, crossfit, circuit training and trekking up mountains. I’ve belonged to every gym chain in Phoenix and have more options for workout clothes than evening wear.

About six years ago I started having trouble with one of my wrists that really inhibited my ability to work out. It was consistently sore and weak and made my hand felt cold and numb. Resting it didn’t help, nor did wearing an expensive brace. I saw doctors, physical therapists and orthopedic surgeons. I spent hours in physical therapy, had x-rays and MRIs and one really unpleasant cortisone shot. And none of it worked. At one point, a reputable surgeon told me, “You might just have a bad wrist.”

Seriously. Six+ years of this.

A year ago it was worse than ever and I sought the advice of a different orthopedic office. At that point, my mobility was significantly limited and I had stopped many of the activities I loved. I learned I had a cyst in my wrist that had damaged the surrounding nerves and tissue. The surgeon wanted to remove it immediately, but was unsure how I would recover, based on how long I had been suffering without a proper diagnosis.

My surgery was in March 2013 and recovery was pretty painful. I was dismayed to discover much of the pain remained, and my numbness had increased.

That’s when I decided to try a different kind of work out. I broke up with the elliptical and Smith machine and I’ve never looked back. Check out this video or click on the thumbnail below to see what I’m talking about, I created it as a testimonial/thank you to the team. Let me know if you want to give it a try.

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A note on dogs and handstands.

I have two dogs that are roughly the same age and size. Bruno is excessively high strung, constantly on the move and a complete pain in the ass. Molly is mellow, timid and totally low maintenance. There are obvious reasons for their personality differences—genetics being at the center—but it’s still funny to observe how this manifests in their demeanors.

We recently moved to a new house, which meant a lot of changes for these two, plus new canine neighbors. A six-foot wall in our backyard separates them from the dogs next-door, and despite it’s commanding presence, there’s a lot of back-and-forth barking. Every morning and evening we have a personal Lady-and-the-Tramp-esque bark fest; as soon as one yard starts, they all chime in. The word cacophony seems like a fit.

If left unattended, Bruno will jump over our wall in two seconds, willing to risk injury and the unknown to see what’s over there. His determination is impressive, really, because for all he knows there could be a pool of hot lava on the other side.

Molly, on the other hand, just agitatedly barks at the wall, scratching at it while gazing at the top, but she’s never attempted to jump over. She’s seen Bruno do it, and is just as capable of scaling it, but the idea doesn’t exist in her head, so it never becomes a reality.

Now I’m going to get a little new-age-dog-whisperery, because this discrepancy in dog behavior is a pretty relevant analogy to something I’m experiencing in my own life lately.

Within a month of joining a new training facility I’ve made huge progress in my overall strength, how I look and feel and even my general self-confidence. I’m doing things each week that seemed 100-percent impossible when I first considered them—completely out of my realm of reality—and blowing away my own expectations for myself.

It’s not just the physical activity that’s changing me, it’s the steady erosion of the little voice inside me that’s always told me I can’t do certain things. My entire perspective of my own abilities has changed, and while it initially was linked to mastering specific physical achievements, the positive energy has taken on a voice of its own, edging into all areas of my life.

I feel better than I ever have, and I’m stronger than I’ve ever been. I feel connected to myself emotionally and physically and can sense a genuine change in the energy I’m giving and receiving.

What does this have to do with my dogs? This post was about dogs I think…

I guess the comparison is that I associate Molly’s behavior—her failure to attempt the impossible wall jump—with the old me. And Bruno’s fearless confidence (while very annoying and hard to rein in) is how I feel now.

Something’s changed in me and it’s amazing. I’m no longer worried about my own version of “what’s on the other side of the fence,” because I know I can make it and it will be fine. Better than fine. It will be awesome.

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