My gym has done the unthinkable. It has challenged us, the members, to go where we never dared before. We've seen the infomercials for the DVD, frowned or cringed at the carnage on the screen and promptly turned the channel, shaking our heads and thinking, "those people are insane. If I did that DVD, I'd definitely have a finger on the pause button. Often." Now suddenly we are being beckoned, dared to be "those people." Like rubberneckers at the scene of a bad accident, an overflow crowd of us had to check it out. Up close. For no other reason than to be able to tell the tale, "Guess what I saw today!" Trouble was, getting close meant having to participate. I quickly found myself justifying it in my head--"Couldn't be that bad. They wouldn't offer it here if it was really that bad. Right?" The music began. Pleasant enough. The instructor, I think her name was Sergeant something; at least that's what I came to call her, flashed a big smile and invited us to march with her. "This is your workout," she entreated us in a sing-song voice. "Go at your pace. But push yourself, even just a little, and you'll get something out of the class." No problem. "Today we'll focus on form," Sergeant Sweet continued, "Use proper form even if it's slow. Just have fun." Not so bad at all. This is going to be fun, she just said that! Happily marching, several of my fellow rubberneckers and I chatted excitedly about how we had been so worried. Silly of us.
Then suddenly, as if a switch had been flipped from someplace very far below the Earth, Sergeant Sweet began to change. Not a subtle change, but a head-turning-360-degrees change. "FASTER! You need to PUSH IT! I do NOT want any of you coming to me after class saying you didn't even SWEAT! DON'T waste your time! Come on! Show me MORE! Jump! JUMP!" Our chatter ended. The fact that oxygen was now at a premium was probably a factor in that. 30 seconds of this move, 30 seconds of that move, suck in air, towel off the sweat. At last it was over. Oh, that was just the warm-up.
"Let's GO! MOVE! MOVE! I'm watching YOU!" Sergeant Torture bellowed. During the precious few 30-second breaks, no one dared even glance at one another, lest we be held as an accessory to what was happening. The prosecutor would no doubt ask, "Why did you do nothing to stop it?" I'll plead lack of oxygen, extreme dehydration.
After 50 minutes, we were mere shells of our former selves. Broken and really really sweaty, we stood stunned, realizing the music had stopped. Sergeant Sweet was back, the doors were open--we were free to go! Well, once we could actually move, that is. We shrieked at our good fortune. We survived! "So what did you think? Did you love Insanity?" Sergeant Sweet asked. One woman replied, "I think you should change the name of the class to 'Don't Go'!" We all laughed nervously. Please, Sarge, don't hold that against us next time. Did I say next time? Heck yeah, we're coming back. We feel invincible! We have been pushed to the brink and survived! We are still a little out-of-it, oxygen deprived, dehydrated, beaten and nearly broken. OK, not thinking straight, either. And yet, we all have an unspoken agreement to meet here again next week. To endure together. Share our misery. Enjoy our company, no matter how insane. Better than suffering alone to a DVD. And yet...do they make a "pause" button for real-life? I think I'll look into that before next week.
"Even if you are on the right track, you will get run over if you just sit there."
Personal Best Sports
The sports world is filled with stories of perseverance, failure and success, personal struggles and public triumph. Each story provides insight into the mental side of sport and activity.