This is a guest article from our dear reader and contributer Darren Fletcher.
“Brett says it’s too easy. He wants it harder!” Dawn shouts over the thumping music track while we do the last few of a hundred squats for this track.
The energy and music in class is contagious. Dawn leads the group with warmth, enthusiasm and drive. My legs are burning and swollen and Dawn glares at me smiling.
“How are we doing on this side of the room?” A few whistles and woot’s ring out as our legs shake from fatigue. Actually the last thing on my mind right now is a painful break up. The endorphins are kicking in, my head is clearing and the workout has just started….
Can you picture yourself there?
Are you still recovering from a recent breakup that smarts sharply? Ever find yourself so emotionally ragged and dealing with so many thoughts racing through your head it is difficult to catalogue them all?
You now remember you promised your friend you would join them at the gym for group fitness class. Being in a room full of strangers is the last thing you feel like now. Your Tuesday feels like a Monday all over again and you can’t get you ex out of your mind.
What will you decide?
The problem lies in our minds – the memories, the hurt, regret, the questioning, we all need healthy distractions that can become permanent solutions, especially in times of depression, stress and anxiety which is exactly the state we all find ourselves in while dealing with a breakup. Isolation can become a selfish disease which seems to have no cure when we find so much pain sitting on the porch in our minds.
I will tell you a little story that relates well to the topic at hand and helps me illustrate the challenges and cures to the issues surrounding breakup pain and recovery.
Back in 2007, after my separation and subsequent divorce I discovered one way to deal constructively with all the negative emotions and physical manifestations of divorce: Group Fitness.
You see, after my most recent breakup and divorce in winter 2010 I really had to re-invest in becoming healthier as a life course if I was to achieve my goals of becoming the person I really wanted to be (mind, body and spirit).
This huge project would get its start at the gym.
As the months have passed working out has taken on a much larger meaning for me again with the final stamp of divorce looming large. There are so many thoughts and negative emotions that need to be dealt with and laid to rest constructively. I have spent a great deal of time analyzing just what makes these forms of exercise successful for so many and how adding this to your breakup recovery is recipe for success.
I grew up with a father who was a health nut and bodybuilder for more years than I can count. The recollections of him making “protein shake” concoctions in the blender using wheat germ, cod liver oil, eggs, and oh so much more while spewing forth his gospel on all things healthy have made a lasting impression on my psyche (even though comical at times). This has greatly affected my attitude about health and fitness today.
Make no mistake health and fitness are a large part of our mental and emotional outlook and has no harmful side effects if taken in correct doses that fit your personal circumstances.
Take the point of topic: “Group Fitness and How It Can Aid Your Breakup Recovery”.
Personally achieving the desired levels of fitness and mental health the traditional way, or even with a partner, was always a challenge. Something was always missing. Real sustained effort is needed in order for endorphins or “feel good chemicals” to be released in the amounts we need. While some self motivated individuals do great working out by themselves remember you have extra emotional and physical needs when dealing with a breakup. Group Fitness addresses these needs.
Being around others, making new friends, lessening isolation and increasing motivation are all main ingredients in this recipe.
When I first discovered “Body Pump” class I was quickly hooked because of how hard I worked and how good I felt afterwards. Not only were the endorphins working but I now had many motivating factors.
Now remember at that time in my life I was in quite a disaster emotionally speaking (think divorce), and making some pretty poor decisions in my personal life. I needed a catalyst to use as a platform for total mind, body and spiritual health. I found this springboard in Group Fitness.
Today I am fortunate to have the same instructor as I had in the winter of 2007; She is now considered one of my friends. She is 57 yrs old, lean and mean (in a nice way) and seems to always know when I need that extra push or tease to get me going.
Embarrassing me in front of class or simply calling me out to beat her in a sprint in RPM spin class always keeps me on my toes or awakens me from emotional slumber. The plain truth is the benefits of Group Fitness are far and wide and must be experienced firsthand to be appreciated.
I work out with many who have been there since 2007. The comradery in class is tangible and you are both encouraged and missed when you are not present. With the wide variety available in many gyms today Zumba, RPM/Spin, Body Pump, Cardio Kick, Mat Pilates, Yoga – just to name a few, are a short drive away in many cases.
I cannot tell you how many times I have arrived at the gym for class having a terrible day emotionally, plagued by memories of loss, full of tears and frankly just in a horrible mood. I have never left class feeling worse, always better. Sometimes, it just allows my mind to begin to feel and process healthier thoughts and ideas or to actually settle down and then begin to think about the other parts of recovery that are important, such as our emotional and spiritual health. You see, all of this goes hand in hand with achieving a balance that allows healthy recovery.
Now I know some of you may not like the idea of Group Fitness or may be resistant to trying something new. Perhaps you are shy or reserved, or maybe you don’t even have the option open to you. Also, your current health may not allow this sort of exercise. It’s OK, as always you do what you can and involve others whenever possible.
For those who do have this opportunity I challenge you to get plugged in, make new friends, express interest and concern for the others in the class, and encourage them and the instructor. You will receive back so much for doing this, and you will feel better for contributing to the class and also living outside your inner world for a few moments. Add some sweat to the tears and recovery to the new you.
So, back to decision time, WILL you stay at home or make good on your promise and explore this opportunity with your friend at the gym.
Go ahead and give it a try!
You have everything to gain including managing your emotions and giving yourself some healthy chemicals to work through your land mind. In fact why not decide to make it a regular part of your schedule and give yourself every opportunity to recover from your breakup in a healthier way!