I recently began taking a spin class at the gym. This class wears me out, every time. By the end of the hour, my hair is matted and stuck to my back, my cheeks are flushed, and my legs are shaking as I climb off the bike. As I am struggling to catch my breath, I notice the precious lady sitting next to me who has not even broken a sweat. Her makeup is still in place, and she asks me politely, while she blots her dry forehead with her towel, “So, what are you going to do next?” As if I can do anything except crawl to my car. I wonder what the difference is between her workout and mine, since we just did the same class for the same hour. And I realize the only difference is resistance. At various points throughout the class, the instructor invites everyone to apply resistance to the workout, with the phrase, “quarter turn to the right.” I learned quickly that not everyone applies that resistance. Some participants want the workout to be easier, less strenuous, more enjoyable. I have to be honest here, the thought never occurred to me. Simply stated, resistance is required to get results.
In any physical workout, there must be resistance. It can come in the form of dumb bells, stretch bands, heavy balls, or bar bells, just to name a few. Resistance can also be as accessible as gravity, or as simple as a wall in your home. Anything you can push against, pull against or hold your own in the midst of, is resistance. And the more resistance you apply, the more challenging the workout, and the greater the benefits. With this being said, even willing participants in an exercise program tend to avoid it. They conserve energy and remain in a comfort zone, applying only the smallest amount of resistance possible. Their heart rate remains constant, breathing is steady, and they look comfortable. Unfortunately, these are their only results. Measurable gains come from breaking the barriers of comfortable resistance.
In life, the same rules are true. If we always stay in the comfort zone, with activities, hobbies and people who make us feel safe and protected, personal growth is impossible. The resistance in our personal lives comes from interacting with different people, trying new things, experiencing failure, struggling through difficult situations, being vulnerable and taking chances. It is from these experiences that we grow and mature. We tend to shy away from these things just like participants in spin class might ignore the invitation to add resistance. Yes, coasting is much more comfortable, and your makeup always stays in place. But where are the gains in that?
While we may never welcome the difficulty of resistance, we can accept it as a part of life, and view it as a necessary means to an end. We can choose to apply that “quarter turn to the right,” push a little harder, and make ourselves a little uncomfortable, anticipating results that make it all worthwhile.
Every decision counts.