My HIIT workout is sometimes hell. The very cool thing about it though, is that it always gives the option to amp it up....or amp it down, depending. The most important thing is 'slow down if you have to, but don't stop'.

When I first started the workout, it was a free trial class. It was 'Week 5' or 'Week 6' of a six week workout that began at Week 1 with basics and easy transitions. So yeah my first class was kind of ridiculously like torture trial by fire. I didn't last 5 minutes before I was plastered to the side of the building, trying to catch my breath and not throw up- leeching the cool morning chill off the building to bring down the fire in my skin. I remember the entire class jogging past me, shouting encouragements. I'd barely been able to jog back to my place of near-death, there was no way I'd finish this god-forsaken workout. I was so embarrassed. I was dying. I was cringing at my own weakness. I'd have given anything for the world to swallow me up and them to never see me again. The trainer with me, Shem, half-ignored me and half-encouraged me to amp it down to .5, instead of just stopping at zero. You'd think he didn't care, but really he didn't want me to feel more embarrassed, and he didn't want me to stop either. For some self-hating/loving reason, I decided to try the workout again anyway. That was last year sometime.

Fast forward to today. I had a hard series of lessons, learning my body, when to amp it up to challenge myself, when to slow it down and reserve something for the final push. I choose not to run around the block still, but I don't just stretch, I push it on the treadmill for the warm-up. I still can't do a fully extended plank for 4 minutes straight, nor can I do more than a few pushups before I use my knees.  But I can survive a full class now, and its a powerful feeling.

But the true moment I wanted to share today was a few classes ago. Shem is still my favorite trainer, always giving me a high five and encouraging me. The particular day he was the one moving through the class, spotting and checking people's form and giving encouragements and directing people to the right stations. The class is generally several stations you rapidly move through, and the one I was at, near the end of the whole class, was giving me some problems.

Essentially, the move was doing low squats, but with a heavy medicine ball you held on your shoulder. Every round we swapped the ball to the other shoulder. The added weight, and the fact that it was throwing off my balance, adding extra effort to my stabilizing- was killing me. Sweat was dripping off my face, and my legs were shaking. I had already sort of amped down by picking a light weight- just a 10 pound medicine ball. I was being deliberate in my squats so as to do fewer than the faster people near me.

We got a ten second break, and I thought I would collapse right there. We had another 45 second sprint to go with this damn ball, and as the lead trainer began counting it down, I stared at the ground trembling, and considered my options.

I could drop the ball, and just do normal squats. The thought of my muscles doing anything else at this point made me literally want to burst into tears. I was so so tired. They hurt so bad, I sincerely wanted to cry and vomit at the same time. I mean I could just quit- it was only 45 seconds. Taking 45 seconds off was not a big deal. I didn't like the idea of quitting the workout before anyone else, but I didn't want to do it anymore. I just couldn't.

I don't know whether Shem just knows the game, or if he guessed, but just as the lead trainer shouted to 'GO', Shem was right next to me, leaning over to make himself heard.

"Yes you can," he shouted (music was pumped up loud) "You CAN do this!"

I thought he was lying out his ass seriously overestimating my ability, but I love that man, and the combined movement of everyone around me, his wink and high five, and my own stubborn hate of quitting before everyone else, made me launch into the last, longest 45 seconds ever. I didn't pop up and down like a toy, I grunted and groaned and cried out (hence the loud music) but I DID IT.

When it was over, I slammed that ball down with all the rights I was due to slam it down and we all screamed for ourselves. The flush of pride that washed through me for overcoming my wall of doubts and 'i don't want to' made the day more than the rest of the 59 minute and 15 seconds of the class did.

Working out can SUCK. Sweating, feeling uncomfortable, being tired, feeling the muscles ache and scream and be sore can suck. Wanting to quit can suck. Feeling overwhelmed and like you don't belong sucks, it can all suck.

But here is the thing- we are only as strong as we think we are. I could have quit tons of times- when I was embarrassed for wanting to throw up (my fiance HAS thrown up in front of people at the gym before- no shame in it- only means you went mega Hulk and it deserves a round of applause)

I could have quit when I felt the discomfort of my body, when my face went cherry apple red and people thought I was dying, or when I couldn't finish the workout like everyone else did and they told me to slow down and just keep moving. I could have quit. There's always been just one person saying "You can do this." Sometimes its a trainer, sometimes its my fiance, sometimes its just me, even when I think I can't.

So in case you don't have anyone telling you can do this, let me tell you. YOU CAN DO THIS. You can do that workout. You can ignore the craving. You can be the only one. You can be determined. You can achieve a new goal. You can drop those last pounds. You can make progress when all seems overwhelming. You can. You can. Look at yourself in the mirror, see yourself, and know yourself, and you tell yourself, Yes. You can do this. You are strong. You are focused. You are determined. You are capable. You will do this. You will succeed.

You CAN do this!