Went to my yoga class this morning and was delighted to once again have the fortunate experience of interacting with a neat young woman who I seem to keep crossing paths with in this dance of life. What a lucky day!
We first met when I was teaching at our local university. She was in one of my freshman classes, Marriage and Family Relations, and several others throughout her years as an undergraduate student. A bright and interested student, smart, curious, and comfortable asking questions when her peers were too timid to utter a word! I liked her immediately, and found her energy and excitement for life and learning quite refreshing. Not something you witness that often with this college population. My prediction was that she would thrive as a student and further her education…
One day near the end of fall semester of her senior year this young woman came up to me after the end of class looking unusually distressed and troubled. She lingered near as I finished talking with a few other students, and seemed to be struggling with what to say to me. I recall asking her what was on her mind, commenting on her obvious distress. She fought back tears, telling me of her spring semester internship requirements for an exercise and sports major or minor (can’t recall which) that expected her to take several people through a series of personal training sessions in our university recreation center. She was aware that I was often at the gym and wondered if I knew anyone who might be interested in working with her as she had someone who had promised back out on their commitment to her.
My first thoughts were of panic for her dilemma, then amazement as I wondered if this girl was able to read my mind! How could she know that the evening before I told a friend that I really needed to find a personal trainer to help me develop a regular workout routine that I could commit to and stick with! My motivation was fading. Was she sent to me at just the right moment? Were we meant to cross paths at this level right now? Was it right? It could be a win-win for both of us. And honestly, I couldn’t think of anyone else she might ask…
Lots of thoughts raced through my mind as I formulated a response to her question… Would she work with me? Would it make her uncomfortable? Would it make me uncomfortable? Would it be a conflict of interest to be both her instructor and her student? But, on that point, I reasoned, she would not be my student next semester and grades for this semester would be turned in well before the start of the next term. So, I opened up a frank discussion with her about my goals and her needs and asked her to think it through carefully, ask me questions, and let me know what might work for her. I was certainly willing!
She mulled over the idea, we talked a bit more, and she told me she would like to work with me knowing that she could talk to me about anything that made her feel uneasy or uncomfortable with the new relationship we were forging. It was exciting for both of us! I saw her smile return knowing she had her “students” set for their spring training. And I was ready to begin!
So student and teacher swapped roles that spring, and she worked me hard, wouldn’t cut me any slack, and made me earn my grade. I found myself proud of her, and proud of me, because if she hadn’t been my trainer (and I didn’t want to let her down) I really think I would have given up on my personal goal because it WAS hard work! But knowing, liking, and wanting her to succeed was the extra motivation I guess I needed to see it through.
Eight weeks later I was confident and inspired and committed to continue my work both for my own health and well-being and to honor the trainer who had faith in my ability to keep up the skills she had taught me. We did it!!! And her graduation that year was a wonderful celebration for both of us in a lot of ways…
My student went on to graduate school and I saw her from time to time on campus and at the gym. She always had an encouraging word for my exercise plan. I always offered her support and tips on being a grad student and career options down the road. We grew to be friends. Hugging her was a special treat. Ultimately she finished grad school and also began teaching at the university. Now we were colleagues, too, working in fields that helped others grow and reach their potential.
I left the university a few years ago. My student/trainer/friend/colleague stayed on a few years longer. Sometimes we saw each other at different places around town, always laughing about how we definitely had similar interests, as our paths crossed frequently and unexpectedly.
So, today was a lucky day, once again. Our paths crossed. This time it was at a wellness center yoga class where my friend has come to work. She taught class this morning…. Worked us hard. But because she is there I can’t give up. Must work harder… Funny that she arrived as my own motivation was starting to wane… How did she know?
I am a bit sore now, but the yoga class was wonderful… And I will see my friend more often in the weeks and months ahead.