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Fitting fitness into LIFE: a letter of encouragement for the parents

Dear mom or dad,

Tonight we want to shine the spotlight on you. Yes, you, trying to balance this whole gym/fitness/health thing with life. You may be a parent who attends one of our classes regularly. Maybe you're a parent who has a designated treadmill that is your place of happy in your local gym. Or maybe you're lucky to find time in the day to YouTube search "at home leg workout" and finish it before somebody wakes up from their nap and poops on you.

Whatever the case, we want you to know that we admire you, and that you can do this.

We see you hauling your kids into the gym after a long day of work.

We see you running into class late with a look of embarrassment on your face.

We see you putting in work to take care of your body and mind every day in class.

For those we don't see, we acknowledge how tough it is to feel isolated because maybe a gym membership just doesn't fit into the budget right now. Maybe you feel like a walk around the block isn't good enough.

It is. As a matter of fact, it's fantastic.

We see your mini-me's watching you as you are putting in the work to take care of your body and mind...HOW ARE THEY ALWAYS WATCHING?

We sense how much pressure you are under on a daily basis-managing kids, work, spouse time, and/or time for YOU.

We know how important your gym time is to you, and understand that it may be the only time during a 24-hour period that you have to yourself.

Here's what we want you to know:

You're killing it.

When you come to class late, our hearts are filled with JOY to see you, because we know there are so many other plates you have spinning at any given moment. We know that it may have been a 10 step process for you just to even get to the gym, from putting on your leggings and feeling "BLEH" to having a kid barf on you as you pull up to the doors. We know that parenting wreaks havoc on your schedule. We don't care if you're late to class. We care that you made it. Don't waste any of your precious time feeling as if anyone is judging you for tip-toeing in. We are proud of you and so happy to see you.

Witnessing you putting in physical labor is nothing short of inspiring. It's always fun for us to chat with you after class, even if you feel like you look like a drowned rat. And yes, we will always hug you, even if you are soaked. You may cringe at the thought of a sweaty hug, but perspiration is more than a sign of increase in body heat. In order to sweat like that, there had to be some major internal dialogue going on in your head, which could've included thoughts of inadequacy, fear, and anger, yet you chose to continue on, smashing through boundaries in your head.

A lot of the time, emphasis is placed on physical capabilities as a readout for fitness. However, we have witnessed very physically fit people give up on a new routine before even giving it a chance because it made them feel vulnerable. You are not afraid to be vulnerable, and that's why you are able to handle the challenges thrown at you in the gym (and in life). This means you are able to continue pushing yourself through a workout, despite the negative voices that may creep into your head. That's bigger than a workout. That's life skills. You inspire us.

Your kids think you are a hero. And you are. I love it when you bring your kids to class and they sit at the front of the gym and play. Do you know how often they watch you and see what you are a part of? It's A LOT, and it makes our hearts grow big time. They see you doing burpees, so obviously they think it's cool and try to do the same.

"I saw Cady Herron wearing army pants and flip flops....

You're their Regina George, except you probably don't make them wear pink on Wednesdays. Plus, you're way cooler. And nicer.

They wanna be like you. It is amazing that you get to show your sons and daughters that it doesn't matter what body type you have or how old you are, fitness is for everybody. You are teaching them that they can practice like you do to be STRONG. That is the coolest.

We know you feel under the gun. Oh if I had a dime for every time I heard "I didn't do well tonight" or "If you see me slacking, I'm just not feeling well" after a workout class, I'd take us all to Disney World.

You don't have to justify ANYTHING to me (or anyone else) regarding YOUR gym time/performance in a workout. Nada. Zip. We don't know the inevitable complications in yo' life and everything you're going through day to day. The gym is your safe zone. If you want to lay on your back and count the ceiling tiles the entire class, go for it. YOU DO YOU. Our goal is to provide you with a space and time in your day that makes you feel better about life. Do us a favor and give yourself some credit. Please refer to the previous 3 paragraphs highlighting the great things about having you in the gym. Did you notice that none of those things have anything to do with how many push-ups you can do in a row? That's not a coincidence. WELLNESS and sustainable fitness is not measured solely by performance. We want you to see in yourself what we see in you. Greatness and grit.

FINALLY: If movement is your therapy, do everything you can to protect that time for yourself. We know that it's more to you than burning some cals. We have friends that love coming to the gym because that's the only place they can get a hot shower in peace. WE LOVE THAT. OWN IT. That's what we are here for!

At the end of the day, a happier you = happier coworkers, kids, spouses = A MORE JOYFUL, PEACEFUL, CONTENT life. There's nothing more that we want for you than PEACE. Peace in how you feel about yourself, your kids, and the people you are surrounded with. YOU deserve it, 100%. You weren't meant to handle it all alone. If we can help take some of the proverbial weight off of your shoulders by putting actual weights on your shoulders, C'MON THEN!

You're doing a great job, mom and dad.

-Lee Ann and Burke



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