Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Two Workouts in One Day: Sports & Spirituality Style

There was a time in my life when working out twice in one day, known as a "two-a-day" was a necessary part of training. Even as a coach, I found myself on the water or the trail with my athletes in pursuit of that second practice. But that era has passed. Today however, I snuck in a "two-a-day" of a much different kind. The sport was spiritual and the spiritual was sport. Indeed, I found a symbiosis. 
Very common for runners who need to up their mileage!
The First Workout: The Gym. 
My favorite time to workout is in the morning, in large part because I know that means I will do it. Life is busy. It's important to set aside time for what's most important—for me that's prayer and exercise. When I commit to exercising in the morning it starts my day off right and the rest of life's obligations can take me where they will.

At 6:30 a.m. I met my friend Sam at the gym to lift weights for a hour. No one should lift weights alone. Plenty of people do, and I'm sure they enjoy the challenge weight lifting demands in contrast with the mental focus it requires. For me  however this form of working out is exponentially more enjoyable with a friend. And I consider myself blessed to have a partner who is a great one.
The ratio of men to women in the weight room is way off. Maybe if more women lifted
with a friend, they might commit and learn its benefits!
Sam inspires me with her positive attitude, her commitment to pushing herself, and her sheer physical strength. Sam leads our workouts—she counts our reps, times us and references what we have done in the past to build a better session. But Sam also laughs really loud at my jokes and enjoys my stories. She encourages me and makes the time fly much faster than it would on my own. 

At some point in the workout, I realize how hard we have been pushing one another or how sore my body will be the next day. Sam is in-sync with me on when its time for a break. In between the reps, putting the kettle bell back on the shelf or the set of abs (I hate slow bikes!!!)—somehow, someway, we share our worries, challenges, hopes and goals. Maybe it's easier to open up and reveal the hard stuff when you're breaking down muscle only to build it. There's something spiritual in the exercise. Maybe you've thought about that paradox as well.
Their new logo!

The Second Workout: The SF-Marin Food Bank. 
One in four children in our country go hungry on a daily basis. I consider this to be one of America's greatest problems. In a nation of such wealth and vast resources, how can this be? We have so many issues that demand our attention, but hunger is one that fills me with righteous indignation, sadness and confusion. Fortunately, I also know how to be a small part of the solution. Your local food bank—and they can be found in cities and counties throughout the United States—can help! 

Last night, I arrived with a group of students I will be traveling to Camden, NJ with at the end of the month for our two hour shift. I came in a long sleeved shirt, athletic pants and a jacket. The Food Bank in the Potrero Hill district is in a giant warehouse and it gets cold in there! However, in less that one half hour into our shift, I shed my jacket and rolled my sleeves up higher.

Our task was to create a "variety pack" of 16 cans of vegetables per box. We boxed, tossed and packaged what amounted to 22,000 pounds of canned vegetables! And by the end of the shift, my body felt it. I thought to myself Do I need to stretch? I was tempted to ask my students Who needs to cool down? I looked at my colleague who had a very healthy sweat going and thought he might. He confessed that this was getting him in shape for Camden, where it can get in the high 90s inside the Food Bank in South Jersey due to their humidity. 
Anyone can volunteer! Even kids!
There's something very similar to a runner's high that fills the air inside the Food Bank when the volunteer groups complete a job well done. The staff is always anxious to report what we have completed and how many people our work will feed. I was most encouraged to learn that 70% of what the SF-Marin Food Bank provides is fresh produce. So many times people who go hungry lack access to fruits and vegetables, healthy dairy and meats. This Food Bank provides good food that is also good nutrition. And none of it would be possible without volunteers giving their time and lending their hands....the lower backs, biceps, forearms, quads, etc.

Symbiosis: The Tip-Off
I'm not a big hard rock fan, but I have noticed that I enjoy it when I'm lifting. For some reason, AC/DC, Def Leppard or a little G&R sounds great when pumping iron. Last night at the Food Bank, I noticed that the radio on in the background was playing the local hard rock station 107.7 The Bone. As I tossed canned goods, lifted those heavy boxes and moved them from one palette to the other, I realized I was getting a second workout on the day. Working with the people beside me, we encouraged one another. We got overly excited for a can of pumpkin to add to our veggie variety box. We knew when the time was right to take a short break. It reminded me of my morning...exercising the body and the soul. The "two-a-day" can be a welcome challenge and yield some impressive results. Give it a shot!

Photos Credits
Women Lifting
Food Bank Logo

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