The Olympics and our fitness goals

Beach Volleyball at Horseguards - Greece
Olympic preliminaries by R Schofield, on Flickr

Although I wasn’t glued to the set during the Olympics (there was a little thing called BlogHer going on for 5 days…), we did tend to have the TV on in the evening to watch events that were replayed after our kids went to bed.

As a new Pilates instructor, I was particularly impressed at the physical fitness levels of the athletes. Of course, they’re going to be in top shape because they’re the top athletes in the world, right? But I could just not take my eyes off how amazing their abs, arms, legs were! Why was it so unusual and fascinating? I think it is probably at least partially because I live here in Dallas, one of the fattest cities in the U.S.

I think it’s difficult sometimes to describe to my green friends and readers in other states and cities the kind of environment we live in here in North Texas, with the over-consumption of food, the constant junk beverages, the driving-everywhere and walking-never. It’s not that there’s a lack of awareness as much as the status quo is lower. We’re not comparing ourselves to Olympic athletes, we’re comparing ourselves to someone else who is fatter than us. That might be why it’s been tricky to fill our classes at Ultimate Pilates. We must rely on the word spreading to the near-underground world of fitness enthusiasts in the area. The fitness community is here, it’s just a little isolated unto itself.

Most of my friends are what you would call the regular mainstream, and I know you guys think I’m a little nuts sometimes with my eating habits, my green cleaning and homeopathic remedies, and now my recent fitness enthusiasm. And I’m OK with that, because I don’t really do these things for anyone else’s approval.

What I have enjoyed about the Olympics being on TV over the last few weeks is that it has helped me realize that I’m not as crazy as I feel sometimes. These athletes had to say “no” to a lot of things, they had to really focus on their own goals and discipline their bodies to reach the level of fitness that would get them to London in 2012.

There are a lot of times when my classes are empty and I do my own workouts in the empty studios. In those hours, I admit that sometimes I take the easy way out. Instead of pushing through 2 minutes of a move, I let myself go on to the next move after 1 minute and 48 seconds. I stop and take little breaks for water or “to look at my notes”. But when I do workouts with a full class, like I did at SLT in New York, or when I take a class with other instructors, like I did last night, I push through the pain and I’m stronger than I think.  There is actually a point in muscle exhaustion where the burning turns to numb – did you know that? You just have to push through the pain until you get that warm numb feeling.

It’s something I want to remember when I feel like giving up on conscientious living because “no one else is doing it”. I think about the athletes and how they pushed through the pain over and over. How I get so much better results in my own workouts when I push through the pain. And how I honestly believe this applies to our everyday life.

Have you ever pushed through the pain and had it be worthwhile?

10 thoughts on “The Olympics and our fitness goals

  1. Meredith L. says:

    Hi there. We did meet at BlogHer, but very briefly at the Kneebouncers booth. (I’m the crazy redhead in glasses who wore a purple dress and got a free t-shirt with you.)

    Anyway, just wanted to say that if you taught Pilates here in Brooklyn, where I live, your classes would constantly be PACKED. I, personally, love Pilates – I’ve been doing it on and off for 10 years now. I like that it’s a great way to get fit without sweating. I hate sweating. And it feels good. I’m currently using Pilates and yoga to get back into shape after my second c-section in March, and three abdominal surgeries over the span of four years.

    I honestly cannot believe you have empty classes and find it so hard to meet others in your area who live the same green, healthy, conscientious lifestyle you do. Here in NYC you’d be a HERO, and in my neighborhood of Park Slope you’d be our QUEEN!

  2. Jenny Bradford says:

    Thanks so much for visiting, Meredith – I do remember you! I have your business card right here! After doing mostly yoga for the last 10 years I am really enjoying doing Pilates – they are so similar and I love that the moves are slow and controlled. Both are great for recovery from surgery because they are slow and allow you to evaluate if you have any pain. I also like that the moves can be modified if needed. According to one of the regular clients at the NYC studio, I am hoping we’ll have full classes in 6 months? 4.5 more months to go!

  3. Brenna Burke says:

    One thing I find amazing about the Olympics is how our society views athletes of that caliber as “other.” We would love to be able to join in a pick-up beach volleyball game, but to work that hard every day to look and play like that? Not going to happen. I suppose we could draw parallels to environmentalists, etc.

    I was a competitive athlete and took on the all-or-nothing attitude that serves no one. I would love to try pilates (although it is terribly expensive in my area). I would love to train in just about anything just to push myself. This may be the fall my body lets me!

    One thing the games, and even some of the commercials, taught me this year as I strive for better health is we can all do better, we can push ourselves further, and we can do it no matter our other life circumstances.

  4. Jenny Bradford says:

    That is so true, exactly what I have been thinking. Even if we just walk 1 block further or pick up some weights while walking… it’s super difficult not to accept the status quo!!

  5. Amanda says:

    Great post! So important to push through the pain — thanks for the reminder!! I have to admit, I’m very impressed and a little intimidated with your green living, and homeopathic remedies — but I love surrounding myself with those ideas and people who live the way you choose to! It’s so motivating and inspiring. I may not follow all your suggestions, but do know that it makes me think twice sometimes and someday I may be on your bandwagon! Baby steps for me! 🙂 Baby steps!!

  6. Jenny Bradford says:

    I really hope that this blog is a place to learn and grow where everyone feels free to make their own decisions based on what they know and where they are. That’s why it’s about conscious living and not necessarily perfect living 🙂

  7. Vicky says:

    I moved from WA state to Dallas last year. Since that move, I have changed a lot of my eating habits, learning to eat healthier, real foods and avoid overly processed stuff. I wish I had made this change before moving, as it would have been easier and more “normal” in WA. It took some searching, but I found good grocery options (and I’m excited for Trader Joe’s to open!). As far as eating out, Dallas has more unhealthy options than WA, but it also has waaaaay more healthy (or at least healthier) options. So, I do enjoy that.

    Now that I have created new eating habits (and gotten better about sticking to them), my next goal is to start some exercise habits. I’m in the midst of job-hunting and moving, so including exercise in my new schedule once I’m settled is a priority. Watching the Olympics really encouraged me in this. I enjoy swimming, but I’m not very good. I decided rather than continuing to wish I’d stuck with lessons as a kid, I should look into getting lessons now. I’d like to be able to swim well enough that it could be an efficient and useful form of regular exercise.

    As someone new to the area, I like reading a blog of someone local who has similar eating habits and goals. It’s encouraging, and it’s helpful when you talk about local options. Thanks!!!

  8. Jenny Bradford says:

    I kept trying to reply to this on my mobile but it didn’t work! Thanks so much for reading and I hope I can provide some insight on helpful Dallas-based resources. Feel free to email me or post on my blog FB page any time for specific suggestions – if I don’t know, I can find someone who does! I also write for and we do try to feature local finds as much as possible. It’s great to “meet” you and welcome!!

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