More than Physical Health
by Jasmine Wise
Last Thursday I was invited to a Pilates class at the Baylor Stadium by one of my dear friends in Waco. Neither she nor I had any idea what to expect. Even as we pulled up I questioned her on things like, shoes or no shoes; does it cost or not; where exactly is the class? She knew none of those answers. The whole thing was a surprise to us both. We walked up the hill toward the Robert Griffin III statue and saw people preparing themselves for the class by placing mats on the ground and directing their children about what to do while they were working out. The instructor was introducing himself.
At first, I was so excited for this free exercise class and to stretch out my body that I didn’t notice much about the other people stretching out around me. I soon realized something was different about this class. This was not an ordinary free workout for those associated with Baylor. This was a Waco community workout. The workout students were a diverse group of people. I do not mean in exercise level. (But there were some people doing level three the entire time, and it wasn’t me). I mean in class, race, and gender. I saw people from all ends of the spectrum. I do not want to speculate what those people did for a living nor their education level, but let’s say we represented Waco. You had my friend and I both childless African American Baylor graduates and the middle-aged Hispanic women next to me with her three children.
I took particular interest in two women. The first was a middle-aged white woman with two middle school-aged children. Honestly, the reason I took interest was negative. Both of the children were right in front of my friend and their mats kept blowing towards her. I was confused as to why neither the woman nor her kids tried to stop them. The mat blowing towards my friend thing happened a few times. I must admit, at first I was frustrated. I take exercise seriously! This seemingly unnecessary distraction was messing with my workout!
God quickly quieted my spirit and reminded me that this is the Church. This is what the community I say I want to be a part of looks like. There are Hispanics mothers, black men, Baylor students and graduates, all sharing the same space. I quickly got over my frustration, changed my attitude, and continued exercising.
The second women I took interest in was a black woman in her late 50s or early 60s. She sat elevated in the back of class. She was not on the ground for apparent health reasons and could not complete all of the exercises. Her determination to move and get healthy inspired me. She never quit moving, and I saw focus on her face as she completed each exercise. She gave me some new perspective on health. She showed me that every little bit helps. My only regret from this day is not talking to her. I should have asked her about her life, what brought her out on that day, what her family is like? I let this moment pass by.
When you are a part of something great you do not always realize until you take a step back.
I reflected on the experience the next day. I gained more appreciation for the town I live in. I loved Waco before. I love it a little bit more each time I interact with its people. This day was no different. This one event showered me with lessons. I realized how important it is to model healthy behaviors for the next generation as mothers exercised in front of and with their children. I saw diverse groups coming together with a common goal and nothing negative happened…something that felt like a contrast to what is happening in our country right now. I saw how important it is to take opportunities for conversation when they arise. These conversations create bridges across lines that usually divide us. This community workout is ripe with men and women from different backgrounds. Imagine what I could have gained from talking to that older lady for five minutes.
By day, Jasmine Wise is a graduate student in the department of Sociology at Baylor University working on her Ph.D in Applied Sociology. By night, she is a youth leader at Acts Church in Waco, TX. By weekend, she develops her passions for public speaking, growing churches, developing communities. She wrote her first book, “Confessions of a Sinner”, in the Summer 2015. If you want to get in contact with Jasmine, please visit her website: drjkaw.com.
The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.