I’m Not Broken! And You Aren’t Either

By Zerline Hughes

hamstringI just wanted someone to know that I did it!  I was able to do a hamstring stretch (without a modification) for the first time in maybe six months … or more.

I’ve been able to do this stretch all my life. During track and basketball in high school (yes, I played basketball – don’t ask), at the gym while warming up in my young adulthood, and during warm downs in exercise classes over the last few years. That is, until about six months ago.

After hopping off spin bikes at Soul Cycle to stretch out our hamstrings, we’d take our foot to our butt, raise up our opposite hand for balance and ta-dahh … you get a great stretch. For a while though, I was unable to grab the top of my foot. I was grabbing my ankle, my pants leg, the back edge of my sneaker – and it was depressing. I mean, this was MY stretch. In 39 years, I’ve been able to do this stretch with no qualms. It was hard to accept that my body had changed. I felt broken. But I accepted it (and didn’t tell anyone) and continued on with my fitness goals.

But yesterday, during my first barre bootcamp class at Anytime Fitness in Kensington, MD, we were directed to stretch our hamstring at the end of class. I thought, “here we go again, lemme find my shortcut.” But after months of modifying the move, I was able to catch my foot with ease. It took a sec to find my balance, but I did it!

brokendollI’m realizing this was not the result of any magic or the fitness fairy. This came after about three months of on again off again gym visits (gotta’ be honest), morning stretches, and my first week back at twice weekly Zumba instructing. I was tight, out of shape – but not broken. With diligence, patience and determination, I got my stretch back.

What do you want to get back? Are you ready to work to get it back? Just like in my Zumba classes, modifying moves is absolutely fine. Some of us have knee issues (I have a torn ACL in my left knee), and some of us have back and neck injuries (like me, too), so we have to understand our limitations and honor our bodies. When we work through our limitations and push ourselves just a bit more each time we work out, we find a piece of ourselves that we didn’t know could once again shine through. Just make sure you’re careful and work with a pro!

I can’t wait to hear what you find out from your body!

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