How Do You Overcome the Obstacles Standing in the Way of Making Your Passion Your Life?

I had a conversation recently in which the subject of passion, and what we are really meant to do with our lives came up. The fact is, I know that in a full-time capacity, I’m just doing what I’ve been doing for the last 10 years, not what I’m meant to do. Am I good at it? I guess so. But does my full-time job fulfill me? Not really. I’d say maybe 15% of the time I’m proud of my work, and I feel like what I’m doing makes a difference. But it pays my bills.

What frustrates me is that I do know what makes me feel complete.  When I step in front of a class, or have a conversation or answer a question about fitness, or even when I’m here blogging, I feel like I am the real me. The person I am meant to be, who does make an impact, and feels like the work I’m doing makes a difference. Not 15% of the time, not even 50% of the time … I’d actually say it genuinely is 100% of the time. Fitness is my passion. The gym never feels like work, or a commitment, or something I “have” to do – it’s my home. My safe place. The place I feel more confident, more comfortable, and more secure than any other place or situation in my life.

I guess you could say at this point in my life, I’m at somewhat of a crossroads. It’s as if I know exactly what I want in my life, and who I want to ultimately be, but there are walls keeping me from reaching my goals, and I have not yet found a way to either break them down or climb over them. Instead, I’m running in circles. Waiting for something to break. Wondering how I can make the changes I need to make in my life, and still survive. Perhaps a little bit of it is fear, but not the biggest part – I’m all for doing things that scare you, but I have to pay my bills.

The truth is, for years, I’ve known that I wanted to parlay fitness into my someday-mommy-job. However, the older I get, the more I yearn to be able to do what it is that truly fulfills me. It’s as if I know step five, but steps one through four have to come first … and I’m not doing so great on those ones (some days I feel like I’m making a little headway, but honestly, that whole situation is way too complicated to even get started on). If you asked me 10 years ago what I wanted to do with my life, I would have said that I wanted to rule the world (or run Cosmo). Now? I want to be a wife, and a mom, and a fitness instructor and trainer. I guess you could say as time has gone on, I have discovered the things that really matter to me in life – love, happiness, and making a difference. And unfortunately, finding the things that are truly important to me are incredibly hard to find. I’m 32, unmarried, worried that I’m running out of time to have any chance of ever being a mom, and I spend 40 hours a week working a job that does little more for me than pay my bills. But those five hours a week I spend in a class? I’m not joking when I tell my classes that seeing them is the best part of my day. Because it really, truly is.

I’ve often been accused of being too “in my head,” and I know that it’s true – I’ll admit to being a bit of a control freak, I think entirely too much, I read into everything, and it kills me that I can’t just snap my fingers and make everything fall into place. It’s as if because I found out “too late” (i.e. after college, not actually too late) what my life’s work was meant to be, I have too many “buts” in my head. But I don’t have the right education. But I have to support myself financially. But I need more stability. But how do I even start?

At the end of the day, all I want is to feel like I make a difference – that my work means something. That lives are better because I have been a part of them. I do feel that I have been blessed with this amazing gift, but life, or fear, or responsibility, or circumstance has held me back from becoming the best version of me.  Am I to blame? Undoubtedly – who else could possibly be at fault? But, to quote a song I’m currently obsessed with (for completely unrelated reasons) – “I don’t want good, and I don’t want good enough” – I want great. I want to be the best me all day, every day. But what I want more is the strength and courage to be able to make it happen.


What I’ve Learned About Me in My 32 Years: All You Need is Love (and Fitness)

Today is my 32nd birthday. It’s gotten me thinking about the things that I’ve accomplished – or in many cases, not accomplished – throughout the last several years. To be completely honest, I consider myself somewhat of a mess. Maybe not in the traditional sense – I have a good job, I live in a great city, I have wonderful family and friends, I’m healthy, I’ve found my life’s passion in fitness and teaching group exercise – but the rest of it? Kind of a big old mess.

I know what you’re thinking … that life doesn’t sound so bad. But when you take a look at the things that truly matter in your life, and realize that what you consider to be the most important things in life are absent, and that the people in your life just don’t understand the thing closest to your heart? Yep, we have a problem. That’s right … big old mess.

At the risk of leaving myself perhaps a little more exposed than I’d care to be, I’m going to admit something that I’m sure a lot of people would not take me seriously knowing: I know exactly what I want out of my life. And I know that the saying goes that you always want what you don’t have – but what if what I do have brings me no joy? What if I’ve just been fooling people and not being true to myself? What if I do have a vision for my future, but I’ve found myself unable to figure out how to open the box, let alone start putting together the puzzle?

What if, really, all I need is love … and fitness?

Which is where fitness comes in. I’ve had many – MANY – people tell me that I need to find something else to do with my time; something else in which I can concentrate my efforts. Find a new hobby (but I already know what I love). Find a boyfriend (you have NO IDEA how hard I’ve been trying … and failing … for more years than I’d care to admit). Take some time off, or just skip it (I won’t eliminate from my life the very thing that brings me the greatest joy). But here’s the thing: when I’m working out, or when I’m teaching a class is the one time in my day I truly feel like me. I’m the person I want to be, I exude the confidence I am unable to muster in any other setting, I’m free of worry … I truly feel alive. My best me. The me I want to be. If there is ever a time that I truly love myself – in the way that people say you have to in order to have others truly love you in return – it is when fitness is involved.

Going back to what I mentioned earlier – that I know exactly what I want from my life. I know it’s a modern era, and women are supposed to be able to do anything they set their minds to, rule the world, get the corner office, do it all. But what if the only thing I truly want is love? And I use that word in two senses – to create and nurture a family of my own, and to be able to share my love of fitness with the world? Yeah, I said it. I want to be a mom and a fitness instructor. That’s it. My goal in life. I don’t want to get all dolled up (and “use the hallway as a runway,” as I’ve been told – long story) and go sit in an office all day. I want to walk my someday kids to the bus, and drive them to soccer, and when they are in school, spend my days doing the one thing that brings me the greatest joy in my life – helping people to live healthier lives.

One of my favorite quotes comes from the founder of a company I worked for several years ago: “All I want to do is change the world; make it a better world for future generations.” I truly try to live by these words. It’s not about me. It’s not about what I can accomplish on my own – it’s what can be accomplished when we help others to achieve their goals. It’s not about money and power and prestige – it’s about caring enough to take the time to change a life. It’s about giving and sharing love, and all the beautiful things that come along with it.

So, yeah … I’m 32 today. And I may, by many standards, have accomplished a lot. But to me, none of it matters. Because I’m not yet in the position to make my life’s work revolve around my passion, and to have people take it seriously. And because I’ve discovered first hand just how incredibly difficult it is to find someone who truly gets it – gets you – and shares the mentality that it’s not about the trivial things. In the end, it all comes down to love.

Better than the Exercise-Induced Endorphins!

There are a lot of things that I love about being a group fitness instructor … but there is no greater feeling in the world than knowing that you have made a difference in someone’s life. Just one person coming up to me at the end of class, sharing a story, or even just saying that today’s class was a great one, truly is a big part of why I do what I do.

Truth is, we group fitness instructors are an interesting breed. We regularly get in front of a group of people, and essentially make fools out of ourselves for the sake of others. We crack jokes. We push our classes to the limit. We sometimes get in their faces – and, depending on the class, we often are just plain evil. And we love every second of it. At my Piloxing training, our instructor shared something I hadn’t really thought of before, but it’s totally true – as the instructor, we have to give 150% to get the class to give us 80%. That probably explains the big personalities we tend to have 🙂 (Though, strangely, I consider myself to have two persoalities – gym me is outgoing, enthusiastic, and will talk to anyone, while outside of the gym me is much quieter, rather shy, and very self-conscious.)

Did I become a group fitness instructor because I wanted to change lives? Not initally – to be honest, I thought it sounded cool, and I figured if I was at the gym all the time anyway, and I was pretty good at most of the classes I took, so why not? But after I had a few classes under my belt, I knew it was so much more than that. I had the power to help people become healthier, to cheer up at the end of a bad day, or, as a few of my regulars have told me – look great for their weddings. It’s the reason I tack another two hours on to my work day on Wednesdays. It’s the reason I’m on a bike at 9 a.m. on Sunday, rather than still lazing in bed. It’s the reason I’m always searching for new ideas, or different cues, or an answer to a question that came up during class.

Essentially … when I became a group fitness instructor, I found my calling. I found my passion. I found myself. I found my life.