The weirdest thing happened to me at the gym a few weeks ago.
By this point, you probably know I like to work out. I’ve written entire posts about deep insights from the yoga mat and other physically prompted epiphanies. I find that getting out of my head and back in touch with my physical body can do wonders for the mind.
But the weirdest thing happened to me at the gym a few weeks ago.
It was Monday morning, and I was halfway through my usual yoga class. I attend this particular class pretty religiously for two reasons.
1) I love to start the week with a good “wringing out” of my wine and pizza soaked body and
2) This instructor might be the most cliché (and thus entertaining) yoga teacher of all time.
Yes, I do love to exaggerate, but this woman is a real piece of work.
I used to keep a mental tally of the number of times she said “practice the art of letting go” during each class, but I’d always lose count and eventually fall over laughing.
Apparently “letting go” that much in yoga is actually frowned upon.
Seriously, y’all, this woman is a trip.
First of all, she routinely wears velour workout gear. Yes, velour, not velvet. If you don’t know what velour is, one quick trip to Google will give you an idea of just how ridiculous this stuff is.
Let’s just say, if Wikipedia’s mini-description of your clothing fabric ends with “other examples include car seats and leotards,” then you should probably reconsider wearing those pants.
Not hatin’. Just sayin’.
Second of all, she has the most incredible one-liners. “Practice the art of letting go” is merely the tip of the idiomatic iceberg. Some of the most recent gems I’ve heard include phrases like “give it to the ground,” “relax around the experience,” and my personal favorite “gazing just means looking without thinking.”
I’ll remember that the next time my man “gazes” into my eyes.
Apparently there’s not much going on upstairs.
Outdated track pants and overused truisms aside—the woman is hilarious, albeit slightly bizarre.
But nothing could prepare me for this exercise she had us try a couple weeks ago.
We were lying on our backs when she reached for the timer...
“Ok,” she said. “Now we’re going to do something a little different.”
At least she’s warning us… I thought.
“I’m going to put on the timer for one minute,” she said. “During that minute, we are all going to laugh for no reason. Don’t move or sit up or stand up. Just lay there and laugh. That’s it. Ready? Go.”
Ummm… no, I thought.
As you might expect, the room was silent. No one was laughing.
”Ok, you guys,” she said. “This time we’re actually going to do this. Here, I’ll get you started.”
Then, she just started laughing.
No, not laughing. Cackling. Uncontrollably.
And riiiiiiiiiight about then is when I lost it.
For some reason, a woman in her mid-40s, with her hair down wildly, in her crushed- velour-burgundy pants, lying on her back, howling at the top of her lungs, in a dark room full of skeptics, at an LA Fitness was just about the funniest thing I had ever seen.
So I laughed.
No, not laughed. Guffawed. Hard.
I guess my rolling around on the floor (which we had specifically been told not to do) was just as entertaining to the rest of the class as the instructor was to me, because someone else started laughing along with us. In about 10 seconds, the entire room was roaring with laughter. Whenever there was a lull in the cacophonous cackling, our instructor would light the laughter fire once again. My amusement would be renewed and merriment would sweep over the class once again.
Now, before you go calling LA Fitness and warning them that a crazy woman is teaching Monday morning yoga, just chill.
Tim Ferriss and I have actually done a little bit of research into this field—separately, of course—and it turns out that this woman is not off her rocker after all.
The muscles in your abs are not fully stimulated by the classic crunch. Go figure. That’s because the muscles in your would-be-six-pack only run vertically, so crunches strengthen but don't flatten your stomach. If you want abs that are a) strong and b) flat you also have to target the transverse abdominis muscles which run horizontally.
How do you get to those little guys, you might be wondering?
Think back to the last time you coughed for days or laughed for hours and then had sore abs.
Laughing and coughing are actually the most efficient “exercises” for targeting these particular belt-like muscles. However, as Tim so aptly puts it, “laughing repeatedly in the gym will get you a straitjacket or a plate to the head,” so we have to come up with alternatives.
Apparently that little maxim did not apply to us.
That Monday, we were prepping for straitjacket fittings like it was our job.
The whole scene was just so absurd to me, that it actually took the last few weeks for me to realize what really happened that day.
Here are the (unexaggerated) facts:
Our instructor proposed an exercise that seemed odd.
The exercise was actually efficient, effective, and valid.
No one believed her, thus, no one participated.
She had to perform the exercise before anyone else would try it.
Once someone else did engage in the exercise (ahem, yours truly), then others finally joined in.
Before you knew it, we had a room of skeptics who were that much closer to six-pack abs.
Then, it struck me like a proverbial plate to the head.
For a while now, I’ve been searching for my real, authentic reason for being—my “why,” if you will. An answer to questions like:
Why am I writing? Why am I sharing my stories? Why am I building my own business?
Why am I bothering with any of it at all?
But now, I think I’ve finally found my “why.”
Why do I do the things that I do?
I do them, because I want to be the person that brings the metaphorical laughter to the room.
I take risks, remain vulnerable, try new things, explore the unknown, attempt the “impossible,” and share it all with the world so that maybe, just maybe, someone else out there will see that it’s possible and do the same.
And not just do the same, but be inspired to put their real, authentic reason for being out into the world, as well.
I want to be the yoga instructor who laughs for no reason so that her students can feel comfortable sharing their laughter, too.
Here’s the real deal.
We are all meant to have the six-pack abs of life. We are meant to share our greatest selves with the world. We are meant to chase our dreams. We are meant to leave our teeny tiny dent on this world.
We are meant to have faith in possibility, love in discernment, and hope in courageousness.
Sometimes, we just need a little example to show us that it’s ok-- to give us permission to laugh for no reason.
Let me be that reassurance for you, today.
Marianne Williamson said it best in her now infamous quote about our deepest fears and our human potential:
“We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
And it’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
On the days when I question everything and just want to stay in bed (this is Monday for most of you, but it was Tuesdays for me), I remember these words.
We are all meant to shine, to manifest, to liberate.
It’s not just in some of us—it’s in everyone.
Don’t do this for yourself. Do it for everyone around you who will undoubtedly see your power and use it to tap into their own reserves. Do it to inspire someone. Do it to let them know that it can be done-- that's it's ok to try.
Shine your light. Give your glory. Laugh for no reason.
And then watch the ripples expand around you…
You and those you love will have the six pack abs of life in no time.
Now, I want to hear from you!
- What is one thing you can do today to start inspiring others?
- Whose presence has already given you permission to shine your light?
Share your story or your reaction in the comments below.