The Warm Up

Just a few months after having my daughter, Elizabeth, I met John. John is a good trainer and a good dude. When I met him, I didn’t know these things – but I knew his wife.

He’d married my childhood best friend, Jessie, so when she told me that he was starting a boot camp in town, it was just as good of a time to meet him as any, since I was itching to get rid of that second baby weight and the fog of postpartum depression that was starting to lift.

I was scared since I hadn’t been working out at all, so of course, I drove over to the local park and watched from afar to see if I thought I could survive the boot camp style workout. It looked intimidating, but I was ready to push myself.

Flash forward 11+ years later, and while I’m not working out with John right now, he’s given me some nuggets of wisdom that linger on. Over the years, I followed John as he followed his gut in his own professional journey, meeting him at different locations – parks to a studio, then back to a school parking lot, and even at my house for private personal training sessions for a good bit when I could afford that luxury.

My husband and I have both worked out with John in a one-on-one setting. (Side note: If you have not ever worked with a trainer in a one-on-one session, I dare you. It’s scary and will most likely be awful for the 60 minutes or so because you have NOWHERE TO HIDE! But, the results are pretty phenomenal if you can stay with it.)

Anyways, back to the hubby and me. We both adamantly agree that the warm-up was the absolute worst part of the hour-long session with John. We would both dread it. We knew the warm-up would start right after some foam rolling and stretching, and we both wished we could avoid it. When it was time to get started, John would instruct us to jump rope, run, sprint, hop on one leg, who knows what else and it was always EXHAUSTING! We were having to take our bodies from near zero to some MUCH higher level of activity, and it was brutal.

I was sharing our warm-up grumblings with John one day, and he laughed:

“Dena, the warm-up is the most important part of the workout. It sets the entire tone for the whole thing. It gets your heart up to where we’ll want it to stay. Without a good warm-up, your workout just won’t be what it could.”

Hmmm – that was interesting. I’d never thought of it that way… since let’s be honest, I’d always just prayed to survive it and not die before the actual workout started. But, of course, his off the cuff explanation got me thinking.

I could understand that the warm-up was rough because it was a lot of movement where there hadn’t been any before.

I thought that the warm-up was a place I could/should/might ease through because if I went too hard, it might wear me out and leave me unable to do the “real” workout.

BUT, I had never stopped to think about how the warm-up could actually prepare me for the workout ahead. I had never thought the warm-up could actually render me MORE capable of higher levels of performance.

I decided to test it out in my next few workouts. It wasn’t easy, and I had to gear myself up mentally as I pushed myself harder in the warm-up. I raised the intensity slowly. Little things, like bumping the treadmill up a notch from where John started it (just a notch, people, not too much, but not none) or adding an extra hop on the jump rope – just enough to prove to myself I could do a tick more than he was asking of me.


And you know what?


My workouts got more intense as I found that I was able to tack on a few more reps later in the exercise. And, that my friend, made me feel so stinkin’ strong! I felt physically and mentally tough and let’s be honest, a little bit (or a lot) like a bad a$$.

Aside from the workouts though, I’ve tried to remember and bring the “warm-up mentality” into other areas of my life.

What if I could stop and think of each new challenge, each new day, each new dream as the workout and realize that it’s up to me to push myself through a proper warm-up, to prepare mentally, physically, and emotionally? What if the time in my life until now has actually been the warm-up and I didn’t even know I was preparing myself for the workout of a lifetime — one focused on my unique soul and my real purpose in life?

I continue to wake up each morning and realize that I am in charge of what I do next. So, you know what I’m doing? I’m making sure that I’m warmed up and ready to go. I’m pushing myself out of my comfort zone. I’m consistently showing up for myself. But I’m also bringing people into my life to help prepare me, make me think of things in new ways, challenge me to trust in myself, my gut and my heart, and my ultimate strength and capability!

And why?

So that when the real workout begins, I’ll be able to breathe, dive in, leap forward, or jump up and push through and not only survive but most likely surpass my heart’s wildest dreams – and it’s all because the warm-up has gotten my heart ready and right where it needs to be.

So, how’s your warm-up going, friend? Are you pushing yourself, even in your preparations, for pursuing your dreams? I’m trying to do just that and believe you can too.

Let’s get started, amazing things are waiting on us just beyond the warm-up!

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