For years, I would compile an empowering playlist on my iPhone, double-knot my shoes, and embark on a solitary evening jog. Running was always my primary method of exercise. I relished exploring new frontiers outdoors, discovering new running paths and learning the intricacies of each hill. Running was my method for escaping from my thoughts and life stressors, losing myself in the verdant green of Minneapolis to the ballads of Sia and Adele. While it was great for improving fitness, running was ultimately disconnecting; I was able to detach from the realities of the world.
Solcana has been a unique experience for me in a very different way. As someone who hails from cardiovascular fitness, barbells and dumbells represented a foreign language to me. Snatching, cleaning, squatting all encompassed new methods of body movement which were unknown to me; I felt myself embarking on an adolescent phase of movement, where surprising progress matched up with an awkward sense of body mechanics. Furthermore, challenging movements such as handstand pushups and double-unders felt enticingly closer with each day. My partner, Mike, was an inspiration for me in this way, as he always focused intensely on improving his strength record.
I have greatly enjoyed seeing my strength improve and learning the new limits of my body. I have learned double-unders, handstand pushups, and chest-to-bar, among many other movements. I find snatching particularly gratifying and frustrating, because of the complexity of the form. While I do not break my record on the snatch every single time, I always appreciate the snatch days, because they force me to focus on improving my technique. Through these movements, I have developed a stronger core, benefiting my work greatly as a nurse. I utilize proper mechanics when lifting and ambulating patients. My mental focus and mood have also improved from endorphin release, allowing me greater stress tolerance in my job. I especially enjoy learning and practicing new movements, but do encounter difficulty pushing myself to scale up my weights. My strategy for this obstacle is to try not to finish the metcon first, because it indicates that I could have pushed myself more. To finish a metcon last in the group is empowering to me, because it indicates that I picked a challenging weight for myself.
Aside from overall strength, there is something else with which Solcana has provided me, which running never could: a sense of community. Running was a solitary meditation for me to release the toxins through my sweat and disconnect from reality. Conversely, Solcana has been about connecting with the world-while still sweatin’ to the musical beats. It was challenge for me to re-orient my thinking this way: to recognize that I was not just an island in the ocean, but part of a larger archipelago. Upon starting in Solcana, I noticed immediately the intimacy of the gym members, and it intrigued me. People genuinely care about the welfare of others, helping each other return weights and talking about life outside of the gym. There is an underlying focus on promoting a sense of social justice in the world. It took time to feel the community, but I’m glad that I’ve encountered it. The camaraderie of cheering one’s peers to finish a metcon is rooted in unconditional support and kindness, and that is the essence of Solcana.