What Most Workouts Don’t Teach

I’ve been thinking a lot about courage lately…

Last week I was visiting my pal Jessica Ortner in Morro Bay, California. One early eve, we decided to take a workout class that Jess raved about at her local gym.

It was 5:30pm and I was feeling a little tired and unmotivated, but she promised the teacher would get me going!

We got there and not only was the studio freeeeezing cold (I know some people like it that way, but this makes me feel MORE tired), but we found out there was a sub. Wa, wa.

I could already feel myself wanting to pretend to go ride the bike while Jess attempted to sweat it out in that meat locker.

But I stayed because something is often better then nothing.

However, once we got going I could tell the teacher was new at this.  I have no doubt she is going to make a great teacher someday. But because she wasn’t fully confident in her teaching sneakers, I just knew I wouldn’t be able to rely on her to really PULL IT out of me.

And because I was feeling so tired, it was hard for me to pull it out of myself.

So, I sort of phoned it in. I did the punches. I did the squats.

But I also watched the clock, wondering why it was moving so slowly. Know that this is NOT the way I normally workout, but I, too, have my days!

It all changed when I looked across the room at this other girl who was bouncing around like an energizer bunny. Mind you, there were only about 9 people in the class, so she stood out. But even more to my point!

This girl was giving it everything she had! I mean EVERYTHING!

Every hook, every jab, every kick- she wasn’t holding back. It was like she was exercising for her life!

You could tell it wasn’t the kind of exercising where she was just trying to burn calories. She was moving to have a soul experience!

And this is when it hit me.

Showing up like this for yourself while working out takes a TREMENDOUS amount of courage.

It’s as if you show up ready to be MOVED, and not just physically but mentally and spiritually, too.

It means being ready to give of your full self.

It means showing up with all the baggage you have been carrying around that day and saying, I am willing unpack some of the BS through my movement.

It means saying, “I don’t care that the person next to me is only giving 50%! I am going to give 100%.”

It means letting your self be carefree and not trying to look perfect. It means being willing to smile or laugh. Geez, I don’t know why people take it all so seriously!

It means being willing to coach yourself internally by saying, “Come on, you got this!”

Listen, my darling: we can phone it in. Sometimes that’s the best we can do and that truly is good enough!

But sometimes we end up getting comfortable with “good enough”.

So the other choice is to say, “I am WILLING to be moved today.”

But it requires that you put your heart on the line.

For you! Yes. Just for you!

And it doesn’t matter if you are doing kickboxing, yoga or pilates. The real transformation happens when we allow ourselves to be moved emotionally through movement.

I know for me, this when it feels like the room gets brighter.

My vision gets more clear.

My negative beliefs fade to the background.

I feel inspired to take action.

And all of a sudden I am allowing more good energy to flow my way.

Perhaps you have experienced this yourself now and again through movement.

In my humble opinion, THIS is what we all should be aiming for with our movement.

Otherwise, we phone it in and leave our workouts feeling flat. We don’t remember if we actually did anything. Our endorphins never kick in. It’s all sort of blah.

Darling, don’t be blah when it comes to your body! Be BOLD!

To quote Ice Cube, “You can do it, put your back in to it.”

Next week, I am going to be inviting you to join me in what I know will help you feel, understand and activate that BOLDNESS through your body. It’s going to feel so good!

So keep an eye on your inbox next Wednesday Nov. 11th.

And if you have any friends who you think could use a little boldness in their body, by all means forward this along so they can sign up to get the announcement email HERE.

In the meantime, I want you to think about your own workouts. Do you phone them in or do you bring your full self?

Is there a teacher or a particular method that brings out the best in you?

Does it have to do with the people around you? Or is it always up to you?

I would love to hear your thoughts below, as this is a topic I am passionate about.




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20 Responses to What Most Workouts Don’t Teach

  1. I love this message, Erin! I’ve been both of you during that workout / task / event and you’re so right: it does take courgage to give it my all even when I want to throw in the towel and I’m not fully present. It’s as if I’m saying “I deserve the best, so I’m going to give myself 100% even if I don’t feel like it.” Im totally tasking this message with me. Thank you!! XoxAshley

  2. Veronika says:

    Such a great and inspiring story. Thank you for sharing, Erin.This is the key sentence for me “The real transformation happens when we allow ourselves to be moved emotionally through movement.” HO! Very well spoken!! 🙂

  3. Patty says:

    I don’t tell you often enough how much I enjoy your posts – They are real and accessible and I always relate to them. Thank you for sharing your experiences, perspectives, and letting us feel we were in the room with the energizer bunny who is now inspiring us all!

  4. Deana says:

    Oh, Erin, I have been that student and that instructor! I had never enjoyed group fitness classes, and when a friend hounded me for 2 years to take a Nia class, I kept saying no. After watching “You Can Heal Your Life” one New Year’s Day, I decided to make a change for me. I took a Nia class, and I was that student giving it her all, even though I had no idea what was going on. I asked the teacher questions, did research, and decided to take the Nia White Belt training, and declared in the sacred circle that I would teach! I was not a person to stand up and speak in public, much less tell people to look at me for direction. I taught my first class about 8 weeks after training, and it may have been obvious, but everyone in class encouraged me. I went on to take my Nia Blue Belt, and taught for a few years, and enjoyed every minute of it. On the days when I wasn’t 100%, as soon as the music started, the Joy of Movement (Nia’s first principle)came into me so I could share it with the class. I haven’t been able to get classes going here in California, and while I put my chin up and say ‘it’s too bad’, I grieve for my joyful movement practice of Nia, the Nia community I had in North Carolina, and sharing it with others. I feel that it was the mantras of Shrink Session that really pulled me in, and I am so grateful that Jessica Ortner’s book purchase led me to find you. Thank you for this post.

    • Andrea de Lange says:

      Deana, I empathize and commiserate in the fact that NIA hasn’t taken off in California. I discovered it when I lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico; but found it almost non-existent, back in Los Angeles. I did find a local Pilates studio with one class each week; and after the first workout, I got “NIA Fever”. I was so inspired by and loved it so much, that I also did a white belt training. It was with Debbie Rosas — in Portland, OR. Unlike you, I didn’t have the confidence to try to teach it, when I came back to my L.A. gym. Soon after this, my favorite NIA teacher left the studio, and I ended up losing enthusiasm for it altogether. It’s a shame, because it’s such a great technique.

  5. alexandra says:

    erin, i love this message. about a month ago, i found myself in a spinning class having a panic attack and ego snowball i thought i was going to pass out and keel over. i’ve since worked to keep my emotions in check, which has been difficult here and there, but the days i find when my ego is out of whack or afraid, just showing up and taking it at my pace is still so beneficial for my mind and body. thanks for sharing.


    • Erin says:

      You are not the first person to tell me about an ‘almost’ panic attack in a spin class! I even write about it in my book. Thank you for sharing this. And totally agree, some does just showing up is certainly good enough! xo

  6. Jessica says:

    I am so happy I came across your Pod Cast with Connie on Awaken Radio. Just got into fitness this past March and it has completely changed my mind and body. I’m always searching for new things, working on two of my own businesses and really trying to manifest happiness and security in my life. You are awesome, inspiring and I”m so happy I found this!

  7. Julie says:

    I’ve been thinking a lot about this recently, Erin. Thanks for posting this. Working out isn’t just physical – it’s emotional, in the sense that our emotions and deeply held beliefs have a lot to say about how, when, where, and why we work out. The only person who’s ever really been able to give the the emotional pow in a physical workout is you. I’ve never enjoyed exercising, and you are pretty much the only teacher whose classes I enjoy. You’re a master. You connect to your students, you know JUST how far to push people, it’s like you really feel every soul in the room. You have a way of encouraging people to show up, not just phone in. I still struggle to show up, not just phone in, when I exercise. I haven’t been able to transfer that feeling outside of your class yet. It’s deeply rooted in my belief that I’m not athletic, exercise isn’t for me, and as a piece of my identity, I am “out of shape.” That is how I identify myself – even when I’m in good shape. So emotionally showing up to a workout class, for me, is inextricably linked to the courage that comes from an identity I’m still struggling to take on.

    • Erin says:

      Julie- This is so beautifully written and shared. First, thank you for your kind words. I also feel that a teacher has a lot to do with it. When you feel seen, taken care of and also inspired by them, it helps. I am so glad you feel that in my class. Truly honored. And I hear you on bringing that mojo that comes up in class, out into the world. It’s hard! I do find listening to music in my earbuds helps me a lot when I am feeling a little less then or low. The music sort of serves to get inside the body and move things around a bit. I know you know this, as music is in your soul. So maybe ya need a little more butt kickin’ music in your ipod?:)

  8. Bianka H. says:

    Thank you for your post! I think that bringing your soul, your self in it, can make a hugenoten difference in everything you do, wheter it’s working put, painting, doping the garden, cooking or read your kids a story. It alle comes to bring your full attention andere being fully present. It has made a huge difference to me in my life to be fully present, in my body, on this earth!
    Thank you for your inspiring post!

  9. Bianka H. says:

    Thank you for your post! I think that bringing your soul, your self in it, can make a huge difference in everything you do, whether it’s working out, painting, doing the garden, cooking or read your kids a story. It all comes to bring your full attention andere being fully present. It has made a huge difference to me in my life to be fully present, in my body, on this earth!
    Thank you for your inspiring post!

  10. Gaëlle says:

    (I’m french so sorry in advance for my english !)
    Thanks for your post Erin, it feels “nice & warm” to know that this kind of “not feeling it” can happen to everyone (even the usually most motivated !).
    What gets me really going (with body, brain & soul !) is Music, Music, Music !! It can lift “mountains”… especially when “I don’t feel it” at the beginning of the workout 🙂

  11. Monica says:

    This past Sunday my Grandmother passed away and it’s been a few weeks that I’ve been struggling with lower back pain. Any motivation will most definitely be appreciated. I look forward to my email on November 11th. Thanks for inspiring so many of us.

  12. Karen says:

    I have been thinking about this since you posted it, Erin! And if I am not “feeling it” then it’s not an excuse — I need to START SOMEWHERE and let myself get inspired as soon as I start moving to the music.

    On my way to work this morning, I actually thought that I need to bring my full attention and enthusiasm to more things in life — not just working out. Bianka also noted this in the comments above. I want to feel lucky to be alive, every minute (and how easy it is for us to forget).

    Thank you!

  13. Mandy says:

    I have a very physical job, unfortunately it is sporadic so even though I am strong I do not feel fit. I knew I had to do more, with a good friend I took up walking most days, 2-3 miles. I am so grateful to this friend because she gets me out there and moving in ways my job does not. We both agree that it make us feel so much better. We talk a lot when we walk together and I show up because I want to see her even if I don’t feel like walking. I bring my best self because as friends that is what you do.
    I still think I need more…
    a place where I can bring my whole self (like my walking) but still connect with that inner self. I am so grateful for this opportunity with you to find that.
    Thank you,

  14. Andrew Hutchinson says:

    Absolutely. Intent/Perception is nine tenths of the law! Love what you do and as you say movement in your body is movement in your life. So true. And there’s interesting science behind that too (not that we need the science but it helps convert some people)! Thanks for doing what you do.