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For my whole life I’ve wanted to be able to do a pull-up. I remember the presidential fitness test in middle school, and the irksome zero I had to put by my name. As a serious rower in college pull-ups were part of our winter training; mine were always assisted. When my kids were little I would unsuccessfully attempt at least one pull-up on the monkey bars while my kids monkeyed across effortlessly.  Before Tradewinds, at the YMCA, I’d use the counterweighted pull-up machine, hoping to drop a little weight off every week until success!! But I would fall out of habit. And then one day I read an article explaining that long-limbed-women have a more difficult time getting pull-ups because of muscle-mass and the mechanics of levers. The article was my excuse: I have long arms. It probably was a lost cause. Now I had a scientific reason not to try anymore. 


And then I joined Tradewinds, a gym with a coach. Andy asked about my goals, and I confessed the long sought after pull-up. He set me up with some bands, showed me how to use my muscles correctly and told me I’d need to practice every time I came in. At the end of workouts he noted the few minutes of extra time, and I knew it was my gentle encouragement to keep at the pull-ups. Slowly I progressed. Months went by practicing 25 of the most challenging pull-ups I could manage 3-4 times a week.


And then it happened. Legs kicking and grunting my chin made it over the bar. I pulled-up.


I felt like somewhere angels were rejoicing. It was a physical breakthrough with emotional and spiritual repercussions. In the physical realm it was easy for me to see and understand the steps to get the skill: I needed a vision of what I wanted, instruction and encouragement from a coach, and lots of practice. 


My struggle with the pull-ups has made me wonder: 

What else am I willing to consistently fail at for months in hopes of getting to a win? 

Who am I inviting to coach me to reach that goal? (And will cheer with me when I get it?)

Do I have practice sessions scheduled in my calendar with small enough steps that I consistently win so that I’m moving towards my goal incrementally? 


What’s your pull-up? What goal has lived buried under legitimate obstacles? 

It took me 40 years to get my first pull-up after many, many failed years of trying on my own. Less than a year of coaching and consistent practice, and I’m still doing pull-ups 5 years later. 


The same set of skills can be applied in other arenas: emotional, relational and spiritual! I’ve always struggled with maintaining long-distance friendships and articles about personality type have encouraged me to find excuses in the long levers of distance and introvertedness rather than recognizing I need coaching and practice. How many times have I tried to get spiritual disciplines going by doing the equivalent of a quick jump up on the monkey bars only to decide that maybe I’m just not meant for that.


I love the physical arena, because I think it’s the simplest place to learn the skill of breaking down a task into parts and then working through the discipline to master it. If you can learn to squat, pullup, pushup, and deadlift, you can take those skills into any area of life. At Tradewinds were excited to come alongside you as you name your goals, help you troubleshoot until we find a practice pattern you can win at, and then we’ll cheer loudly when you reach your goal.


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