TLC Fit Week 6; Upping the Ante

March 8, 2012

An uncharacteristically warm 68 degree March evening took us outside for the aerobic segment of our Teens living With Cancer Fitness Program. It was dark but we had a good path to walk, we usually walk for 20 minutes.

Halfway through….. they broke into a run. I stayed in the back…. were they serious….. how far would they run? Would it be to the next light post ? No. They kept going. And they were laughing as they ran. They ran like they should run…. carefree. It wasn’t UGH this hurts….. it was yeah let’s run!!!!

You know when you see kids running across the lawn with huge smiles on their face, racing one another? This was what it looked like, it was what it felt like. When we were done there was more laughter and high fives and I could tell, a real feeling of accomplishment. It was amazing. They had taken the lead on that one and we just went with it.

They totally upped the ante. So I upped it with them.

The workout was our most difficult one yet. I took the planned exercises and made them harder. This is what I had been waiting for and it was an incredible contrast to assessment night. remember that night, they learned how fit they were and were not. That was the hardest night by a longshot because they got to see on paper where they measured up.

Each week they take a leap beyond that. I was conservative in the first few weeks. Fitness and confidence go hand in hand. I knew I could not run this like a boot camp. Screaming at them to buck up was not the approach. I think that kind of approach can work in some situations, but not here. These teens needed to be built from the bottom up.

Last night there was sweat. At one point while we were doing a wall sit one of the girls said “Oh my GOD! This is insane.” I looked right at her and said “What is the hardest thing you have ever done in your life?”

“Beat cancer.” she said.

“Then a wall sit is nothing. You can do anything for 15 more seconds” (We were doing 4 X 1 minute wall sits.

The groans tonight were not from failing, but from pushing beyond that edge. That yes this is hard but I can do this edge. That wow I can’t believe I just did that edge. The looks of fatigue and at the same tim the smiles of knowing that they are getting stronger. Hell yes they are.

Before and after our workout we sit in a  circle and we outline the goals we set for last week, whether we accomplished them and what we are going to accomplish this coming week. Back in the beginning there was a lot of….. I forgot to write it down….. going on. This week they were setting 6 fitness goals and a bit upset that they only hit 5. See that progress?

We have to remember that while we might set 6 goals and “only” hit 5……. five weeks ago we weren’t setting any goals and most of these teens were not working out beyond our session. Now they all are.

I am not a negative reinforcement personal trainer or coach. I am relentlessly positive, in fact I am annoyingly positive, We get enough negativity in our lives, hell turn on the news. It’s everywhere. I believe in helping people build themselves from the bottom up. Notice what I said there…… helping people build themselves up.  Build themselves up.

I am just the guide….. I am just the person with a few verbal nuggets and a whole heck of a lot of enthusiasm.

“Are you always this happy?” one of them asked me while we were running…. I smiled. Of course I am I told them.

Look at who I get to work with, look at who I get to guide? Look at what I get to be a part of????? What is not to be happy about? We are doing something that’s really never been done, we are breaking ground that’s never officially been broken.

Lauren’s daughter Melissa passed away 10 years ago. As you remember she is the whole reason that Melissa’s Living Legacy / Teens Living With Cancer came to be. Lauren told me that Melissa had a stationary bike in her hospital room the entire time. From beginning to end it was what she insisted on having.

What a brilliant young woman she was. She knew that movement was good. She knew that it would help maintain her physical and emotional strength.

Melissa asked her mother to make it better for other teens. Lauren sure is making that happen. I wonder is Melissa knew what she started back then. I wonder if she had any idea that her legacy would touch teens that she didn’t even know. That her story of having a bike in her hospital room would be the catalyst for something bigger.

She was just trying to stay strong.

We have two sessions left, and it’s breaking my heart. A year of planning and it’s almost over. I was assured it was not over however, this is going to grow into something much bigger. Lauren…. as she does so beautifully….. had ideas. She’s the queen of this type of stuff, and she’s got future plans for us all.

One of the things we will be doing as a Teens living With Cancer Team is walking the Lilac 5K together. I think it will be my proudest 5K ever…. yes I can walk a 5K. Could you? For these teens … what wouldn’t I do. I have done just about everything under the sun in terms of athletic accomplishments, yet somehow I know that walking a 5K with these teens will be up higher than qualifying for Kona.

Next week our local news YNN Rochester will be at our program filming and as of next week…. I can finally show you their pictures. FINALLY. I can’t wait for you to meet them.

They took the lead last night and they upped the ante themselves. We took a careful and conservative approach with this program and they threw their hands in the air and jumped. The moment we jump off of it sometimes…. is the moment we touch down. The physical strength is building and with physical comes emotional. They are now in the phase where they believe they can do more, achieve more….. if you believe it you can achieve it. Those old sayings aren’t wrong.



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