I was working out on my peloton bike today, and the instructor said something interesting that I had never considered. I was doing a timed ride through the Canary Islands at the time, and as we were pushing to get to the top of a hill, we were all standing and pedalling as hard as we could. I could see my heart rate pressing to its highest level. I could feel the pain in my chest as I was trying to breathe and keep up. She said, "do you feel that pain"? This is life! This is what it feels like to live. It is not the first time I have heard that. In a similar situation during a particularly difficult pilates session where my muscles were burning and shaking to hold the pose, my instructor said, this is life Stan, you can feel it!
So what does this mean in contrast? Are they saying that we need to feel life? Are we not living in our day-to-day unless we can feel it?
Physical Challenges as Metaphors for Life
The notion that physical challenges serve as metaphors for life's hurdles is a poetic parallel and a profound reflection of our journey through life. The experience of pushing through a tough workout, like the one on my Peloton bike or during an intense Pilates session, can represent the larger struggles we face in our day-to-day lives.
In any physical challenge, whether climbing a steep hill during a bike ride or holding a difficult pose in Pilates, there's an inherent obstacle to overcome. Similarly, life throws various obstacles our way – career challenges, personal lives, or internal battles. Just as we push through the burning muscles and the breathlessness in a workout, we learn to navigate through life's challenges, finding strength and resilience, we might not have known we possessed.
The Journey of Growth
Physical fitness is not just about the end goal, whether losing weight, building muscle, or improving endurance. It’s about the journey – the gradual progression, the setbacks, and the comebacks. This mirrors life's journey of growth. We evolve not just through our successes but through our struggles and failures. Each challenge we face and overcome contributes to our personal development, much like every workout makes us a bit stronger and more capable. Fit people may realize this connection. However, as an unfit individual who has spent the last ten years in a sedentary lifestyle, these sensations and realizations are new.
Engaging in physical challenges is as much a mental exercise as a physical one. It demands mental fortitude and discipline to push through when your body wants to give up. And let me tell you… my body just wants to stop and give up. This mental strength is vital in life, too. Whether it’s persevering through a difficult period at work or dealing with a personal crisis, the mental toughness we build in physical endeavours equips us to handle life's psychological and emotional demands.
Taking on an Enormous Challenge
I have been following a group of people who are (as of the date posted) rowing across the Atlantic Ocean in a race organized by the World's Toughest Row. This is a challenge that I am planning to do, not necessarily with this outfit, but it is interesting to follow this race and all the races they do. In this particular race, one of the participants is a friend of mine. Participants often say that although it is very physical, it also takes extreme mental fortitude not to throw in the towel when things get rough. And they will get rough.
Rowing An Ocean
It is a challenging feat. However, if a person does not jump in a boat and start rowing, there is a considerable amount of preparation. I will be documenting all of them here. In addition, I will be creating a newsletter on the topic and interviewing others who have achieved the task. We will talk to boat manufacturers, trainers, and people who have set world records for crossing oceans. We will talk about training and fundraising and fitness and diet.
In both fitness and life, the comfort zone often signifies stagnation. Growth happens in states of discomfort. Pushing outside your limits. When you’re out of breath, climbing that virtual hill on your Peloton, you’re not just exercising your body; you're teaching yourself to endure and find comfort in discomfort. Life, much like exercise, is not always about being at ease. It's about embracing and growing through discomfort, whether that means taking a risk, stepping out of your comfort zone, or facing an unknown future.
The Reward of Endurance
Finally, the exhilaration and sense of accomplishment after completing a tough physical challenge are unparalleled. This feeling is akin to overcoming a significant life hurdle. It’s a reminder that the struggle, while often difficult and painful, is worth the reward. The satisfaction of overcoming a physical challenge can serve as a motivating reminder that life’s challenges, too, bring their own rewards – in the form of personal growth, newfound confidence, and the joy of achievement.
The metaphor of physical challenges representing life's hurdles is powerful. It highlights the struggles we face and the strength, growth, and fulfillment we gain in overcoming them. The lessons learned in our physical endeavours are invaluable tools for navigating life's complex, often challenging journey. I will examine this further as I prepare for my row in a few years. I am learning to push my boundaries.
It is the journey, not necessarily the destination.