Your Questions Answered: The Mind Body Connect

The blogger behind Holyoke Home, a wonderful and witty place of home renovation, answered my request for writing inspiration with these words: "I am really interested in what goes on in your brain WHILE you are working people out. Where does your head take you while your body is demonstrating things physically?"

Dear Holyoke Home,

First off, let me tell you about the microphone. I won't wear the microphone while teaching fitness classes because I don't want to be like this:

So I turn the music down low. But the minute my jumping jacks match the beat, I feel like this:

It's not my natural habitat, the group exercise room. Catch me in the free weights and I'll teach you proper form, but give me an hour in a big, empty, mirror-lined room, and by golly, I've got to work to feel right. Thankfully, most of my work is as more of a coach than anything; I offer general advice to beginners and new challenges to the hardcore guys.

But you're not asking about my comfort level, are you? You want to know something about how the mind and body come together in these times for me, because you teach, too.

When I look at someone moving, I can feel what they're feeling. Where the person is straining, if the lower back is compromised--I know and can help them out. I know what I know because I've experienced these processes physically; my body remembers, and I supplement this experiential learning with books and research. But sometimes I think my body remembers better than my brain, because ask me about my theatre stuff, and I can't recall specifics if I'm not actively doing it. But ask me how to stretch your rhomboids, and I'm there.

Fitness is a fairly straightforward pursuit: do this, and health and wellness will result. None of us gets it all right all the time, but we know what's good for us and what will take us where we want to go. With the bench press competitions, I knew if I kept at it, I'd see slow but incremental increase in the weight I could lift. And my goodness, the fact that I was doing it at all after never being athletic proves my point.

Injuries may sideline us, and yet the path is straight and paved. It's a relief from all the thinking work of my other fields. All those pesky anatomical terms still remain to be learned, but otherwise fitness is comfortable work for me, aside from the occasional sweating.

With school nearly here, the other day I wondered how I would spend the hours without my kids. Boxing, I figured. I'll put in a couple extra hours a week, get to a good spot, then find some matches.

Follow that logic for a moment: do this, then this, and this will result. I'd set my mind and body to something, and win it.

Then I wondered why I didn't do this in other areas. Why not devote all my energies to finishing my book and getting it published? Put in a few more hours a day than I have been?

Because I don't believe the end is guaranteed there, to be honest. I don't fully believe that will happen, even though it's good stuff.

Why do I assume I'll win a fight but not a publisher?

To answer your question, Holyoke Home, what's going through my mind when I lead exercise is not enough. It should not be this: if I can do this, I can do anything.


Have a question or writing prompt for me? Comment here!


  1. You didn't wait around for someone to explain to you how to get fit, did you? You went after it. If you don't get a publisher, publish it yourself! YOU CAN DO ANYTHING! You can!!

    Plus it would be really cool for all of us to read your book, in the same kind of way that we like to read your blog!

  2. And another thing: I thing you would be way sexier than Brittany. Brittney. Britni. Whatevs. YOU I would listen to. Her, not likely.

    And I heart Jane Fonda. (Is that her in the photo?) Did you hear she has a new book out? Something about sex after 70. Rock. On.

  3. Thanks for all that, Lisa! Yes, that's Jane Fonda. She's cool, but those outfits, who--wee. I do have some legwarmers around here someplace, hmmm...

    My friend just published a book with Univ of Chicago press on Brit:

  4. *loud clapping and whistling*
    *woots and hollers*
    Awe. Some. And totally correct. Progress may be more visible to the eye in physical fitness, but you? You box. If you box? You can do anything.

    You know that in your bones. In. Your. Bones.

    I don't have plans to come home for Art Prize, but my mom is all excited about it, so I know its coming. Although, now that you mention it, I am a HELL of a lot more likely to see them (I love seeing them) if I plan to go there.

  5. I'm glad I passed the test! I like how you put it: "progress is more visible to the eye." That's right on--it's clear cut when you're looking at a scale or calipers, but progress in an art form, well, that has its dips and valleys.

    DO come for ArtPrize, and visit me! Have you been before? It really is quite the experience--a total communal immersion in art. We love it.


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