it was nearly three years ago when i was on the hunt for a gym to join. i searched high and low and finally settled on orangetheory fitness. there were a couple main motivators to this decision. first, they had early classes. early classes, kelsey? everyone has early classes. no, folks, i’m talking five a.m. early. i’m a busy lady with lots to do and no time to waste, so the earlier the better in this case. second, the classes are no larger than 24 people and are led by a trainer. i’ve never been one to lace up my sneakers and make up my own workout, so having someone telling me what to do tends to work pretty well.
so, it’s hundreds of classes later (okay, maybe not hundreds but certainly lots!) and i’m still going strong. you might be wondering what motivates me to peel myself out of bed a few times a week so early to exercise. well, part of it, in all honesty, is the fact that orangetheory fitness members pay a bit of a premium. another factor is that i do truly want to do right by my body. i mean, i’m not signing up for any bodybuilding competitions anytime soon, but i’m doing my part. finally, i have someone to keep me accountable: my mother.
my mom tori asked me about orangetheory last spring, curious to know more since they were building one just down the road from my parents’ neighborhood in birmingham. i remember very exactly the scene: i was sitting in the courtyard of my building, drinking starbucks while reading or napping or doing something else relaxing. my mom called to catch up on anything and everything and then eventually brought up orangetheory.
“i’m not so sure about it, kelsey. i mean, is it for young people? i’m not very flexible.”
“oh, mom. it’s for everyone! you go at your own pace, whatever it is. and if something is too difficult, they always have a modified version of the exercise. all the trainers have been really nice and encouraging. you should try it!”
“well, you can at least go for the free class and see what you think. who knows, maybe you’ll love it.”
and that, folks, was how it went. the next thing i knew my mom was addicted. she was practically going more often than me! she’d call in the evening and ask if i’d gone to class that day and then politely brag about how many reps she did in the weight room. 😉 it has been perfectly sweet to see her start out and now watch as she has become a regular at her local studio.
the orangetheory fun was elevated this past week as hell week was upon us. for eight days straight, the workouts were going to be more difficult than they normally are, and the challenge was to go at least five out of the eight days. i’d known about hell week for a while but hadn’t given it a second thought. it was at that moment that my mom called to ask if i’d signed up.
“hah, i hadn’t really considered it! are you going to do it?”
“of course i am!” she replied without missing a beat.
“oh, well! i guess i need to get myself on the list! how many classes are you going to do?”
“all eight, young lady!”
“oh my! well, if you say so!”
so, hell week came bright and early last monday at five a.m. for me. each day i mentally counted down from eight to seven to six to five and then all the way down to one. every day of hell week my mom texted and called me to see what i thought of the workout. we laughed about the 90 squats we had to do one day and i moaned and groaned about the burpee challenge we had on another. it was after day seven, this past sunday, that i called my mom in a bit of a grumpy mood.
“ugh, i just did not have fun today in class. my legs were tired and i didn’t really know anyone and all i wanted to do was sleep.”
“well, then don’t go tomorrow. listen to your body and take the day off.” she consoled.
“i can’t do that. i’ve already done seven of the eight days. plus, i don’t want to disappoint you.”
“oh, kelsey, you can’t do this for me. you have to do it for yourself. that’s why i’m doing it. i wanted to challenge myself and see if i could do it.”
“i know, but i committed to doing it and doing it together with you. my little engine is just running low, that’s all.”
so, if you’ve read this far, you’re probably wondering, “what is the deal with this post? what is this about?” folks, it is about my remarkable mother. this post is fully dedicated to the woman i look up to most. these dialogues are a brief glimpse into who she is and what she has taught me. this post is a thank-you, a thank-you that will never capture it all but will certainly try.
there are many things this letter needs to say, and i think a good place to start is for all the things that make me grateful for you. first, i am grateful for my relationship with you. so many people do not have relationships with their mothers, either by choice or circumstance, and as i have grown up, i have learned and continue to be aware of how lucky i am to have the friendship i have with you. our relationship has changed and evolved not only as i have moved from home to school to career to adulthood but as you have also moved through phases of life. you regularly tell me that you loved kyle, clark, and i as kids but so much enjoy the adult friendships we have today. i think part of the reason i can agree with that is because as i continue to grow into the woman i will become, i realize how much like you i am.
this is something else i am grateful for: the fact that i am very much my mother’s daughter. you might not know this, but kyle and clark have commented that when the day comes (a very, very long time from now) when you are no longer with us that you really won’t be gone because i embody so much of who you are. i take this as a compliment of the highest degree and think this is something you should know. thank you for passing onto me things like compassion, creativity, and love. thank you (and dad, of course) for instilling virtues in me like patience, honesty, and loyalty. so much of what i do, even in my day-to-day, is done with those still voices of you and dad, encouraging me to do the right thing, even when the right thing isn’t always easy.
thank you for teaching me to respect others and to respect myself. i learned a long time ago that you don’t always know someone’s situations or circumstances, and these unknowns in life help me practice grace. i know that you and i both believe we’ve been given grace from above, time and time again, and the least we can do is practice grace for others.
thank you for showing me that although family and friends bring me joy, i’m ultimately the only one responsible for my happiness. happiness isn’t always going to fall in my lap, and i deserve more than to sit around and wait for it. your adventurous spirit inspires me to seek out new places and experiences that only make me more of a citizen of the world. i couldn’t be more thankful that i inherited your natural curiosity about people and places; i promise to never stop venturing.
the list of thanks could go on and on; however, i want to spend the rest of this letter saying how amazing i think you are. you have such personal will. you are someone who sets her mind to a task or challenge and rises to the occasion. even if a limit does exist, you are glad to push yourself, often revealing strength in the end. i have always taken special pride in your work ethic, and i hope that the life i am leading and will continue to discover makes you proud of me in this same way.
i think you are beautiful. i love the laugh lines on your face and the tinsel in your hair. i’m happy to say that i am infatuated with the greys i’m already donning myself. whether playing in your garden or dressed up for a special occasion, you are always glowing. i hope i have that when i grow as wise as you.
i think you are deserving of every good thing that can come to you. i think you have worked so hard for yourself and your family that there are never enough words to express our gratitude. i think you are a very special person who has inspired much of who i am. all the good in me comes from you and dad, and i hope that all the years that have passed have been worth the while.
even though it’s not enough, i hope that everything i’ve written here is something you already know. i hope you already know how much i look up to you for advice and guidance and comfort. i hope you are already aware of how happy i am that i am very much like you. i hope you know that i will always need you and that i know you will always be here for me.
with all the love a girl can have for her mother,