On the heels of a post from Karina about the value of not quitting, I’d like to share with you a time that I did quit.
I quit the gym. It took me a year into my training at SMA to do so, but I finally did it. At the time, it felt like a daring move. It seems like everyone in Fairfield Countybelongs to a gym: my friends, my colleagues, my neighbors. Joining a gym was, in fact, one of the first things I did when I graduated college and became a woman of the working world, sowhat did I think I was doing quitting?! The gym was so cheap and there were so many classes to take advantage of. It was open practically 24 hours a day and it had just gotten ten new treadmills, which had the runner in me excited. I had been a member at this gym forever. How could I let it go? What if I wanted to go to spinning class with one of my colleagues before school? I was shutting the door on so many possibilities!
It sounds overly dramatic, but those really were some of the thoughts running through my head at the time; however, the longer I trained at SMA the more I began to identify the things in a gym—or in our case, a dojo—that were actually of value to me.
I care (like any one else looking for a workout) how challenging the class is going to be. I care about the ability and expertise of the staff and about the equipment available for me at the facility. Until I started training at SMA, I didn’t realize that I also cared about community. I didn’t realize that it was the missing link in my training and what would eventually be the thing that helped me surpass all of my initial physical goals that I had set for myself.
Being a part of a community raises the stakes a bit. It means that in signing on, we are committing a certain amount of our time and energy to make ourselves better, and in doing so we are making the community better. Committing to a community, though, also means that the community is going to commit to us.
The gym asked for very little commitment from me, which is probably why I remained a member long after I stopped going on any sort of consistent basis. In fact, “low commitment” seems to have become one of the industry’s marketing strategies. I see billboards up and down I-95 about “no contracts” and “$19.99 per month” or “no money down.” It sounds great—and it got me through the door all those years ago—but the day when I finally decided to quit was the day when I realized what type of relationship that creates between client and corporation.
Because the gym asked so little of me, it gave me so little in return.
Training at SMA gives me much in return. Yes, it gives me challenging classes, knowledgeable instructors, and excellent equipment, but because it requests a particular level of participation from me, I get much more back than I ever did at the gym. In committing to training at SMA, I get a community of people that know me and therefore want to help me get better. That’s what I need.
I want people to hold me accountable because I know that there are times when I will not want to do that for myself. I need my partner to see when I’m struggling with that 18th squat roundhouse kick and simply be there holding the kicking pad counting for meso I don’t let myself off the hook two less than that set of 20. I want people to get excited with me about pushing ourselves to be stronger and better at what we are doing on the mat. I want to be a part of something bigger than myself and celebrate everyone’s progression on the day of testing. I want to have milestones to work toward, like my next rank, instead of some nebulous goal of “be in better shape.”
I get all of this here on the mat, so I’ve never looked back from the day I quit the gym; I’ve been moving forward too fast with the great people around me to really have to look.
By Kristin Veenema
“By associating with wise people, you will become wise yourself.”