Why I Won’t Turn My Pain Into Abs

Sam Cavalcanti
3 min readFeb 5, 2020
A young woman at the beach stands on her lower arms, holding her legs up in a forward split, her legs at a 180 degree angle.
Image Source: yogajournal.com

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I went to a strength building yoga class a few months back and it was not the “old lady with back pain does some stretches” environment I had wrongfully expected.

What really got me were the fitness chants, repeated over and over by a buff instructor as my legs trembled and I surrendered to child’s pose. I understand the presence of motivational, “work hard play hard” speech in said spaces, but the cult mindset is not a great fit for a skeptic like myself.

Sure, there is some logic to it. The instructor began by asking the class to set their goals, and to let go of the past. Stressed about work? Dealing with family drama? Going through a breakup? You will be aching and sweating so hard you will forget about all your troubles during this next hour! Channel your stress energy into your abs and glutes!

But why must I deal with pain by enduring more pain? The inspirational catch phrases found me channeling my anger not in my non-existent triceps, but towards the instructor. Every new repetition had my mind screaming “don’t tell me what to do!” on a loop. With all the stress of expectations that I had been enduring, I was not about to find yet another set of expectations, this time in the fitness sector, to fret about.



Sam Cavalcanti

I'm Sam (they/she). From Brazil. Now in L.A. I act, write, scream, love, and pet cats. New stories thrice a month, methinks. (No AI generated content)