Be gentle. Be kind. Be honest. Be true. Be real. Be you. Natalie Terry
When I ventured out to my first bootcamp class at Kaia FIT Granite Bay, I was raw and broken. Jimmy had been dead for less than two months. The last thing I wanted to do was interact with other humans but I couldn’t motivate myself to exercise, and I knew I needed to move my body in order to heal.
The women I met at Kaia helped bring me back to life. They push me in class, they offer me space to talk about Jimmy and the agony of my loss, they open up about their own challenges and struggles. We laugh, we cry, we lean in for each other. Over and over, I heard what Anne Lamott calls the most powerful words in the English language .. “Me, too.”
Natalie Terry, the owner of Kaia FIT Granite Bay, has been through her own grief journey, emerged from some dark days and now pours her love and attention into all of us. Her simple messages while we’re working out are important lessons for those of us trying to find our bearings after the death of a beloved.
Kaia appeals to a range of ages, sizes and abilities. Many of us are struggling with something … age, injury, tight muscles, a long period of being sedentary. We might have a superpower — speed jump roping, sprinting, pull-ups — but few of us are good at everything. It’s easy to get frustrated when you find yourself running at the back of the pack or still finishing your burpees when most of the class is two exercises ahead. What keeps the inner critic quiet is Natalie’s frequent admonition to “do you” — if you can’t run, walk; if you can’t do a full pushup, do one on your knees or on the wall. Focus on what you can do, on this day, in this moment, and don’t worry or think about what anyone else is doing.
Let it go.
Some days we don’t remember to sign up for class with the Kaia FIT app. Some days it’s hard to get to class on time. Some days it’s hard to get to class at all. Sometimes we might have a new coach who doesn’t know how to demonstrate one of the exercises or gets confused by part of the workout. Sometimes the schedule changes or class gets cancelled. It’s just life. If we take a deep breath, it will sort itself out with a little practice, a little patience, a little time and a little space, as long as we don’t take it too seriously, and just let it go.
Leave it in the parking lot.
The day after the 2016 presidential election, Natalie met us at the front door. Before letting us into the Kaia Kove, she said, “I know that some of you are upset right now. And some of you are happy. Talk about it before or after class in the parking lot if you want to, but don’t bring it inside the Kove.”
We are not all on the same side politically, but the tension over the election and its aftermath hasn’t crept into our time at Kaia. We come together, just as we always have, to sweat, laugh, work out and enjoy each other’s company. Our differences stay outside in the parking lot.
I got you.
When the workout boards are long and complicated, Natalie will often say, “Don’t worry about what comes next. I’ll cue you as we go. I got you.” And she does. Not just during the workouts but outside the Kove, too. When one of us goes missing, whether we’re sick, injured or hurting, Natalie tracks us down to find out what’s wrong. She does what she can to help and makes sure that we know we’re missed. It’s what showing up for another person looks like, and it’s what you need most when you’re in pain.
When you’re hurting or unhappy, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the workout or to stay home. Natalie gently calls us out for this by telling us it’s “just” 15 burpees, “just” five more minutes or “just” come to class. She doesn’t care whether we’re tired, sad, stressed or cranky. “I’ll take you any way you come, and hopefully during class, I’ll make you smile or laugh, and by the end of class, you’ll feel better.”
When we’re grieving, we often feel pressured to act as if we’re getting better, doing okay, staying strong, moving forward, getting over it. What a gift to be with Natalie and my Kaia sisters in a place where it’s safe to be who I am, how I am, doing the best that I can.