Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Fellowship of Suffering

During the winter months I meet some fellow rowers at 6:30 a.m. four times a week to work out on rowing machines. These machines, called "ergometers," are calibrated so that we know how many meters we row and how hard/fast we're doing it. The photo on the right is of a Concept2 ergometer, the kind that we use.

After a 5 minute warm-up, we row for 45 minutes. By the end of this hour, we are usually tired and sometimes exhausted. However, the tiredness is temporary because the endorphins soon kick in, giving us a feeling of well-being. We vary our workouts so that we don't become bored and some of them are extremely demanding.

I find that I work out longer and harder when I'm with this fellowship of suffering. The word "suffering" applies because rowing is grueling work. I usually burn over 600 calories during these workouts and am left gasping for breath at their conclusion.

There is a spiritual dimension to nearly every kind of physical activity, but working out with others helps connect us in a different way than working out solo. The word "compassion" means "to suffer with" and there is plenty of empathy in our group. We encourage each other and that helps bring out our best performance. The fellowship continues most mornings as we go to breakfast together.

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