Be Flexible

After four brutal winters in Madison, Wisconsin (despite it being the greatest college town on earth - yes, I said it), I was determined to move to Los Angeles after school. I knew I wanted to pursue a career in television, and had my eyes set on Hollywood. While media was also booming in New York, having grown up in Manhattan and attended college in Siberia — and being an always active person — I couldn’t think of anything more appealing than moving close to the ocean, and having access to all of the activities the great outdoors of California had to offer.

However, after being offered a job at the Late Show with David Letterman in New York, and a free rent option in my parents’ apartment (I still have no shame in that decision), I was New York bound after graduation. While those were two of my best years both personally and professionally, my California itch never seemed to subside. So when I was finally offered a job on a pilot for CBS shooting in Glendale, California, I jumped at the opportunity.

I remember my first morning in California, having slept at my college roommates’ apartment in Hermosa Beach, waking up at sunrise and going for a long run along the beach and thinking, “I could do this EVERY morning if I wanted to” — and plotting my newfound outdoorsy life in the sunshine! That was Saturday. Fast forward to Thursday and I was invited to play on my roommates’ recreational softball team for their first game of the season. This just couldn’t get better - my new active life in California was off to a smashing start (pun intended). That was until I got up for my first at-bat of the game.

One pitch was too low and went by. Second pitch was right in my sweet spot, and when I felt the bat connect I knew I hadn’t lost my touch, as watched the ball soar off the bat straight out into left center field - and I was off! I was rounding second heading towards third, and the person in front of me was heading from third to home, but then changed her mind and decided to head back to third. So I threw on the brakes in my haven’t-been-worn-in-quite-some-time cleats and went to pivot back to second base. That’s when it happened. I’m not sure if I heard the pop before I felt my knee slide out of place or if it was the other way around, but I remember one thing clearly - immediately thinking, “No fucking way” as I hobbled my way back to second (yes, I was safe for those of you who were wondering). My knee, however, was not. It turns out I tore my ACL and both menisci. In one silly play, in one silly game, all of my California dreams had come to a screeching halt.

Instead of spending my first 6 months in LA hiking, surfing, doing triathlons, beach running, and seeing out all of my other fitness dreams, I spent that six months getting my knee reconstructed and recovering from surgery. I had JUST moved to California, and after a life spent playing competitive sports, I had managed to sustain my first injury that required real surgery. As you can imagine, I was crushed. But there was no room for self-pity. Even at that time when I was yet to experience true loss and sorrow, I knew that feeling sorry for myself would accomplish nothing and most certainly not help my knee heal faster. I was not about to let an injury completely sideline me.

So I diligently did my physical therapy several days a week, along with acupuncture. And when that physical therapy wasn’t getting me the results I wanted, I asked my acupuncturist to help me find someone who had a more “whole body” approach. I ended up seeing a woman who does all rehabilitation through Pilates work (something I was never into, but was willing to try for the sake of moving my body and healing my knee). I also started swimming once I was allowed - something I have never really loved, but I had to be flexible if I wanted to stay healthy and in shape with such an injury. It wasn’t my perfect or favorite health routine, but it was better than nothing - and nothing was my only other option.

So why am I telling you this story about how I blew my knee out in the lamest way possible? (Until now I have always told people I landed awkwardly while skydiving!) I’m telling you this because we all have some version of this happening in our lives at all times. Why? Well, that’s life and life happens. As my dear friend Alex Niles used to always say, “Life is not defined by what happens to us, but rather by how we react to situations.” My knee injury could have offered me the perfect excuse to sit on my butt and take 6 months off from life and activity. However, my health has always been too important to me to have ever done that. I had to be willing to work around it, and just make it work!

In the same vein, there will always be things that are happening in your life that could prevent you from keeping up your health routine - travel, a job, a baby, a new relationship, a sick parent, being sick yourself - but if you are willing to accept it, work within your limitations, be flexible, there is ALWAYS a way to get creative and stay healthy. You just have to be open to trying new things and become flexible with the ebbs and flows of life.

That’s what this week is all about — Being Flexible. Our featured fitness studio, Flex Studios, is all about flexibility in their workouts: Pilates, Barre, and TRX all under the same roof - as well as signature Flex 30/30 classes that combine two workouts. They’ve been flexible enough to think outside the box in creating their own Pilates machine, a combination of the reformer and the chair in one. Their classes are also something different: fast paced and intense, but also hyper focused on correct form.

Flexibility can be useful all areas of our life. Former WNBA player Holly Rilinger chose to stay flexible in her athletic career when an injury took her out of the game; nutritionist Jessica Philips uses the pantry as inspiration to change up recipes based on her nutrition goals and tastes; Flex Pilates instructor David Holland explains why men really should be doing Pilates; and UrbanStems found a way to reinvent the way we send flowers and make people happy.

Also this week, we introduce our brand new column, Day in the Sweat Life, where we ask our high-profile Sweat Lifers to give us a glimpse of what their daily life is like, their morning routine, their healthy philosophy, what's in their gym bag, and how they spend their days. First up: Jessie Groveman and Tara Sowlaty from How You Glow.

Remember, be open to change. Be open to flexibility. If you hit a roadblock, take a detour. It’s your life!


Until next week,

Aly Teich
Founder, CEO, and Host
The Sweat Life