I’m continually startled during my BeamFit class at my rec center Dimple Dell. Sometimes it’s because my body, which performed adequately in the previous class, is not in this class. Most of the time, however, it’s because I’m learning life lessons.
For those of you who are not familiar with BeamFit, check out their site. In essence, it’s a fusion between Pilates, yoga, and tai chi, all performed with the added instability of a squishy beam that sits on the floor. Get the image of gymnastics out of your mind: it’s not wood and it’s not off the floor. You don’t have to be a petite, lithe five-year old to do it.
I initially went because it challenges balance and I’m all for a class to help me avoid the ranks of Women Who Fall.
Yet what I’m getting is insight into living each moment of each day. Class reminds me of life concepts:
“Before you take a step, receive the information your feet are giving you,” is a standard encouragement from certified BeamFit instructor Lisa Condie. Stepping on the beam changes everything. It changes my weight distribution, balance, and, my attitude. I am now listening to my darling feet which carry me throughout my day and are often ignored: Lean, lift, compensate. And occasionally, HEY, STUPID, I’M WORKING IT DOWN HERE.
I hear much. And not just from my feet. I hear, “Who am I receiving information from in my life?” “Who do I want to hear information from?” I remember I want to receive information from God, because He has good plans for me and loves me more than I will ever know. I remember I want to hear what Adventure Guy is saying about his life because he’s important to me.
The first day I attempted BeamFit, I blew into class on a schedule. One hour for class, check my emails immediately afterward, 15 minutes to drive home through major construction hassles, and oh, did I bring the library books to return?
Moments into class, however, I abandoned anything further than stepping on and off and my focus point (which is NEVER another human–a lesson in itself, huh?). I couldn’t do both. Center first, then move. Right. Took longer than I thought. I have much in my head and it’s a 24/7 reality show with no sponsors. Breathe in, breathe out. Breathe? What a concept. My body sent me information that I don’t breathe nearly deep enough often enough.
Even in the semi-dark, with lovely music, there are distractions. Am I squeaking my beam more than someone else as I grab for balance? That woman next to me is a heck of a lot older than me and she’s mamboing on that beam like she’s stuck to it. What’s wrong with me?
Lessons I’m learning include that distractions are a given, both in class and in life. The choice is what I’m going to do about it. That path makes all the difference. So in class I now stick my sneaker in front of me about two feet and focus on that. Steady on. I pull my body up as though kind hands are cupping my face and turning me toward the sun. Rise up. Focus.
Unlike weight lifting, here I see a steady increase in strength and endurance (if I apply myself regularly), balance is a moment-by-moment thing. Some days I walk the beam with more ease than other days. Some days my left side seems to be completely severed from my body and on its own agenda. Then, as in distractions, I have a choice. “Center first, then move” or be frustrated. (Hint: Frustrated is the joy-sucking wrong answer here.) On the days when I have to keep choosing life over death thoughts (“You are never gonna get this; why put yourself through this?”) I recall that the astronauts headed for the moon were off course 95% of the time and they still made history.
So, I’m startled to learn off the beam and in my dailiness, I am increasingly thinking: Change is inevitable. Misery is optional. So is the status quo.
In a perfect world, epiphanies would flow and be wonderful and I’d never have a time when I want a quick exit. Reality check. I hunger for the movement of the clock during class: When is the last five minutes?! Near the end, we do the BeamFit version of a Child’s Pose on the beam. The joke among BeamFit instructors is that it’s called the Child’s Pose in yoga and the “Oh, Thank God” pose in BeamFit. I can so relate.
I am sweating more than I would possibly think, moving as slowly and deliberately as I have been. I moan and groan and sometimes apologize because I’m the only one doing that. Sometimes I forget to rise up and I look more like Quasimodo than a delicate woodland sprite. Lisa says, “There’s no extra credit for pretty,” and I laugh and look at the clock again and think, “Just this next move. That’s all I have to do. Just one more move.” And then it’s the next, and the next, and I’m laying back on the beam and breathing deeply and feeling the sweat trickle off my breastbone.
I survived. I’m alive, no really, fully alive. I’m glad. And it’s like things off the beam, where I just have to do one more thing. Rise up. I’ll be glad after.