Written By: Michelle Kommer
2020 was a year of loss for many, ranging from the loss of routines, predictability, jobs, the ability to connect with loved ones, and the ultimate loss – life. For many, myself included, there were some “good losses” too, namely, the loss of vanity! If you had asked me prior to March of 2020 if I’d have shown my face on a Zoom call with 15 people without makeup, I’d have said “NEVER”. Instead, with a demanding job that required long hours during the early months of the pandemic, I made the choice to swap personal grooming and commuting time for some extra work hours and gained a freedom I never expected – my teammates didn’t mind my freshly scrubbed face, and neither did I!
So, while the loss of a makeup routine was freeing in more ways than one, the increased work hours led to another loss – a fitness routine, the lack of which snowballed into poorer sleep, and likely affected my ability to manage stress well — a vicious cycle! And that’s where wings come into play.
Having heard my concern about fitness, sleep, stress (and I may have made a bad joke about needing help finding my waist – it was a casualty of the pandemic), my friend invited me to attend a class at Fly Fargo, a gym located downtown. In my head, a voice screamed “NO – you haven’t set a foot in a gym for 30 years…you will DIE” all the while I imagined a dark, sweaty facility full of bodybuilders who would clearly wonder why their mother was there. But my outside voice said “OK – I’ll try it”.
I could have never imagined what I would find that Friday morning that I arrived, terrified. First, I was welcomed by a sign that literally said, “Welcome Michelle”, to a bright, clean, and GOOD-smelling studio filled with an energy you could feel. And what happened next has changed my life for the better, hopefully for the rest of my life, because at Fly, I found my wings. I will explain that, but first, check out some facts relating to the current state of our mental health:
- We’re anxious, depressed, and traumatized. A recent study of over 10,000 respondents in the US found that people are experiencing higher symptoms of stress, anxiety, depression, and PTSD than ever before.
- We are lonely. 1 in 7 U.S. adults said they were often or always lonely in 2020, up 25% from 2018.
- We are bombarded by our own negative thoughts. The average person has between 12,000 and 60,000 thoughts per day, and of those it’s estimated that 80% are negative!
These are sad facts, and you may ask, how does this connect to going to a gym? As it turns out, the fitness benefits of Fly, while remarkable (their classes are appropriate for EVERYone, at EVERY fitness level) have been secondary to what keeps me getting out of bed early in the morning.
THIS is what gets me out of bed (said by the squad of super-Fly instructors):
- “I’m so proud of you, but more than that, I hope YOU are proud of you.”
- “You inspire me.”
- “Thank you for starting your day with me. It’s an honor to share this time with you.”
- “Let us all go out and tackle this day with joy and courage, like you did this morning!”
Then there are my “Fly Friends”. My husband gets a chuckle out of how many “friends” I claim, even though I do not know their names. I say I don’t need to – we are there together every morning, supporting and cheering each other on…. I don’t need to know (all) their names to love them, or they me.
The Fly Fargo logo is a pair of wings. We end every class with a final stretch, arms wide open, symbolizing our ability to fly. And because of the instructors and my friends at Fly, I leave every day believing that I can.