How one student struggled to find a path to movement and self care after an active sports history, and how she learned that community was the missing link.
by Whitney, a student on Core to Coeur
As an athlete in college and gym rat thereafter, I’ve done the workouts that make you want to puke; the red-faced, bottles of sweat dripping on the floor kind of workout. And at 38, I am done with those days. They’re not going to help me find time to move day after day — they’re going to make me swear every time I have to stand up from the toilet for a week. Problem is, I didn’t know another way forward. I thought it was me. When I tried telling the 19-year-old trainer at my most recent gym attempt that I “had done the kill-yourself workouts and was looking for something different,” he didn’t really get it, and I couldn’t walk the next day. Same old same old. I felt bad about myself and never went back.
After months of making “weekly movement” playlists on YouTube (that I did dutifully for 10 days at a time, and then stopped, every-time), dozens of saved PDFs like “10 Stretches to Do Every Day!” (expertly filed on my desktop, all unopened), and fitness/health/wellness/mind/body apps up the wazoo, I still wasn’t doing the actual work necessary to feel good.
And at 38, I need to find something that’s going to keep me coming back.
So I did some soul searching — why was it a no-brainer to participate in team sports? Why was there no mental friction?
Then, and EPIPHANY
I didn’t participate in sports my whole life because I loved wind sprints, I did it because I loved my teammates. I can’t do it alone — I’m not SUPPOSED to! I needed a community, a team, and went to looking for one. Luckily, I just happen to get involved in operations for Core to Coeur last year, and what I had been missing met me where I was at. Online classes with other people involved on the other side of the screen, moving with me at the same time — mind blown. It has made me look forward to moving, to meditating, to weight lifting. I can show up to my classes 3–4 times week without batting an eye.
I wanted to share my weekly schedule on Core to Coeur for anyone that doesn’t feel like it’s possible to get over the mental and emotional hurdle of wellness. It shouldn’t feel that hard.
Here is my template to make it easy. Yes there’s still sweating, but there’s also a lot more listening to myself. And my teachers listen to me too.
Monday — Pilates for Life!
It’s important for me to set tone for the week with something that makes we want to keep moving all week long. I choose Pilates for Life! with Core to Coeur founder Madison Page. This is a multi-generational, mics-on class with low-impact movements and a lot of laughter (laughing with a group of people I don’t know during a pandemic?! What is this Wizardry?). Coming from the aforementioned “if you’re not puking you’re not training” world, I am continuously amazed at how much Madison works my body without me realizing it. The focus on stability, strength and fun on Monday afternoon gives me energy to do more throughout the week.
Tuesday — Wake Up and Flow Yoga
Tuesdays are my busiest work days and I know myself well enough to forecast that by the afternoon I will have excuses for why I can’t go to class. Wake up and Flow Yoga with Tan is just 30 minutes of movement at 7 am, in-and-out — in my own pajamas! Psychologically 7 am is early, but I do it because I can literally roll out of bed onto my mat at 6:55, flow and sweat with Tan in Memphis, then step right into MY OWN shower in Oregon when class is over, ready to start the day by 8:30! Tan’s teaching style incorporates mindfulness and offers a lot of options. This combo sets the day up in an intentional way — yes things are stressful, but I have a choice in how I can respond to that stress. Tan is wickedly talented in her flow creation, and she teaches me a thing or two about moving with grace, authenticity and adaptability as she starts every class with a reading rooted in mindfulness.
Wednesday — Zumba + Zumba Toning, Beginning Women’s Strength Training
By Wednesday, I’m feeling proud of myself for making it to class Monday and Tuesday and ready to take on the world! So much so that Wednesday is the day for classes that make me feel like Wonder Woman: Libby Woods Beginning Women’s Strength in the AM or Zumba + Zumba Toning with Victoria Sheer in the PM. Depending on what the day holds I’ll schedule one or the other (or both! 😲), and I always leave these classes sweaty and with a smile on my face. As much as I am trying to leave my old movement ways behind, I still love the feeling of being well worked-out in a safe environment. Both of these women provide that environment and get me excited about my own strength.
Thursday — Mindful Moves QiGong
An unintended benefit of signing up with Core to Coeur is the exposure I’ve had to movement styles I would never have tried before online movement. Thursday night Mindful Moves QiGong with Anna MacIntosh has quickly become a staple of my week and my well-being, and I would not have found it without C2C! Trying something for the first time in a gym or studio can be a harrowing experience (see also Zumba above), but in this space I can just… turn my camera off if I want to. And I did, for the first class, but then I realized I didn’t need to because NO ONE was judging me, let alone looking at my little square on the screen except for my teacher. This virtual space of acceptance goes for any class I’ve taken on C2C, but without that security blanket of turning my camera off first, I wouldn’t have explored an unknown movement class in the first place. I’m learning that moving energy is a more vulnerable position for me than moving my body in a weight lifting or Pilates class, and I am so grateful to Anna and C2C for giving me space to grow in this personal way.
Friday — Every Body Stretch Now!
Fridays are always hard days for me to get moving, I am just going to be honest. Maybe it harkens back to light practices before game days, or maybe it’s just that TGIF feeling. Sometimes my husband and I go on what we call “pandemic drives” or take a hike in nearby hills so I’m not in a class in the mornings. BUT. If Friday afternoon rolls around and I’m feeling antsy I hit up Everybody Stretch Now! with Joffrey Texas digital dance studio. Now, I have not taken a dance class since I was 5 years old and I would never in a million years stroll into a dance studio off the street today, but trying to mimic the elegance of trained ballet dancers on screen makes me feel just a little bit taller and Grace Kelly-esque headed into the weekend. This class, while rooted in traditional jazz/contemporary dance stretches, is truly for every body — I’ve seen a whole family show up to these classes and butterfly stretch, cat cow, and point toes with the best of them.
Saturday/Sunday — All Levels Mat!
I try to get a class in at least once each weekend, so I look to Devika Wickremesinghe’s Pilates party of a class — All Levels Mat Pilates class on Saturday and Sunday mornings (she donates proceeds from Sunday’s class to BLMLA). Devika’s creative cue-ing is so great for a mat newbie like myself, and she gives her students so many options in terms of difficulty and complexity that even though she’s an elite teacher I feel comfortable taking the class. I can kick my own butt one day and take it easy on myself when I need to — no judgement, no yelling, no metaphorical sweat (lots of real sweat though, she’s hard). Devika has a weekend spirit and is so generous in sharing her knowledge and herself — this is the most uplifting butt-kicking class I’ve ever been in. Pro-Tip: You must tune in a few minutes early every class listened to her spin some epic records featuring wonderful up and coming artists.
The classes above are just a fraction of the group classes I’ve taken and that are available to me C2C, and I will continue to explore more. Since writing this post, my husband and I started taking private roll out sessions with Carla Harless. So many guys have excruciating back pain, and have no clue about self massage or myofascial release work that can do so much good in hydrating tissue and bringing blood-flow into the injured areas. It’s helpful for him to have me there as moral support until he gets more comfortable taking classes on his own.
What is constant across every class and movement I’ve tried is the heart (there’s no other word for it) that I feel in each class. Connecting with real people, both students and teachers, that are all there for the positivity the platform provides. Teachers with a genuine passion for Every Body, who not only encourage me to move but to trust myself and listen to my body. We aren’t taught to trust ourselves that often, especially as women. Turns out that’s pretty much what wellness is all about now for me.
You can find me moving with all my new buddies (mostly older women plus my dog Addie, and I am loving it) on Core to Coeur — and mention this article for 1 credit (good for $5 in any class on the platform) when you email here.