For those of you who watched the Netflix original - Daredevil, there's a scene in Season 1 Ep. 2 where Claire is basically telling Daredevil how strange of a man he is. At the end of it she says "...on top of that, he can take an unbelievable amount of punishment without one d*mn complaint." And with a smile Daredevil replies: "That last part's the Catholicism."
About three years ago I learned the beauty of working out for a purpose. I don't mean the "I want to lose five pounds" or "I want to tone up my legs" kind of purpose - which I think are great reasons, by the way! BUT (get ready for it), have you ever worked out for someone else?
That's exactly what the "Prayer Workout" is about. Justin Fatica, founder of Hard as Nails (name says it all) came up with this incredible workout that shifts the focus from ourselves - to the sufferings of others. So, instead of thinking "come on! ten more sit ups, I need flat abs!!" you're thinking "come on! ten more sit ups, I don't know what my best friend is going through right now!"
Interesting? I know! So, as Catholics, we believe that our pain and suffering isn't meaningless. We believe in the beauty of "offering it up." (or taking trials without complaints, internally offering them as a prayer). This helps unite us to Christ crucified and that's exactly what this workout is about.
You begin by saying out loud the name of the person(s), or reason why you're working out. Who or what will you offer this workout for? Now, this will make your workout ten times harder than it initially would be. Every time you feel like giving up, the idea is that you keep pushing, keep fighting, for that cause or that person.
I'll never forget one workout where Justin had us missionaries do two minutes of mountain climbers. If you've ever done mountain climbers, you know how intense it can get, your legs literally feel like jelly. I was getting super tired and he yells over to me "Come on, Nati! Keep going! Think about your sister. It's not about you, you're doing this for her!" And immediately tears streamed down my face. As missionaries we had minimal cell phone use and I hadn't spoken to my sister in days. I didn't know how she was doing or what she was feeling that day. The thought that she might need that extra push, that extra grace, pushed me to give it my all.
Of course I was exhausted but I was going. And that's where the sacrifice comes in, when you're doing things out of love for Christ and others. The Prayer Workout helped me realize the beauty in the sacrifices. It helped me see the joy in the sacrifices and in the suffering. By offering up our sufferings we help bring graces to others. Isn't that beautiful?
Here’s some tips to get you started! (in case you were interested)
#1 - Relax
Just because you're offering the workout for this person or this cause doesn't mean that you have to exhaust yourself. God sees our hearts and intentions. If you say you're going to do 50 push-ups (relax, big shot!) for your mom and only get to 20, no big deal! Just because you don't do them all doesn't make your offering less valuable.
#2 - Go at your pace
Do what feels comfortable to you. You don't have to go and do P90x because you want a "hard workout." If you haven't been working out and just want to get back into it, start slow. What matters is that you do it with heart and you give it your best.
#3 - Always remember who it's for
It's a beautiful thing to offer prayers and sacrifices for others. Think of the friend who's been heavy on your mind, the sibling who's been getting on your last nerve or just simply, world peace.
Whatever it is, or whoever it is, remember that they need you. They need to know they matter and they need to know they're worth it. Your prayers will comfort them in their time of need (and all the while keep you in shape ;)
To learn more about Hard as Nails and the prayer workout, check them out here http://rememberyoureamazing.com/
Naturaleza Perez is a Jersey girl with a traveler's heart and love for nature. She was a missionary for a year with Hard as Nails where she realized her love for working with the youth. She worked as a Youth Minister for two years and is currently working for the Family Life Respect Life Office of the Archdiocese of NY. You can find her on a hike somewhere, reading a book, or enjoying some warm chocolate chip cookies.