This client had never really spoken to me before. She had been taking my classes for months, but all I knew about her was her name and that she had a sensitive lower back—which I discovered not because she communicated with me, but because of her quiet refusal to do certain exercises. She often slid into class as it began then slid back out when it finished, without anything more than a slight “thank you” nod to the head. Don’t get me wrong, I never took her to be rude or standoffish, she was just a woman of business and this class was part of her checklist. I like women like that. They always keep me wondering about their lives apart from class. What do they do for a living? Do they have children? Are they married? What are their greatest passions and accomplishments?
A while back, after my last class of the evening, I gave my hugs and goodbyes to my clientele, and I noticed the woman sitting on the couch in the office. With her purse under her arm, and her shoes already laced up, her stillness seemed uncommon to her typical nature.
She continued to stay until the very last client left. Then, when I turned to face her, she acknowledged me with the same slight familiar nod.
“How are you? Did you enjoy the class?” I asked curiously.
“Yes, it was good.”
My eyes caught the rise of her chest as she inhaled deeply, and I watched the even deeper exhalation sink her body into the gentle comforts of the couch.
“My best friend is sick,” she said. “Cancer. She’s dying.”
In my experience of being a teacher, I have learned the art of knowing when to speak and knowing, well, when to just shut up and listen. She continued.
“I don’t get it. She is one of the healthiest women I know. She always ate right, always worked out. Never ever, ever, cheated. I just don’t understand. How can someone do everything right and then have her body cheat her like this?”
This is a question I have often wondered myself as, over the years, I too have watched friends and loved ones fall victim to cancer or disease. Of course, there are those cases where poor habits can be a direct link, but then there are times like this, where choices and fate just don’t add up.
This is often why I stress so deeply the importance of balance and choosing happiness over all else. Some of the “healthiest” phases in my life were also my saddest. Times when I used controlling food and exercise as a way to mask a deep insecurity and an even deeper sense of inadequacy. But still, I can’t begin to answer a question like this and, quite frankly, the answer is irrelevant at this point in my client’s thinking. The fact is, her friend is sick.
But what next came out of her mouth struck a chord so deeply within me that I will never forget it.
“The funny part is, all she wants now is to eat chocolate,” she said. “That’s it. All those years of not having it and never letting herself cheat. It’s all she wants now and she keeps talking about it. And now I want it too. Because, you know, sometimes you just need to have freaking chocolate.”
I watched her head lean back onto the wall, nose tilted up, and eyes closed. I then saw the familiar lift of her chest as she inhaled deeply. But suddenly, with a slight hold of her breath, her exhalation was replaced by a huge cackle of laughter. Her laughter rang so pure and loud that I too began laughing and nearly fell off my chair. Both of us (equally) in absolute hysterics; laughing filled with both the absurdity of life and the secret love affair with chocolate.
I'm not sure why she chose to share her story with me of all people. I may never know; regardless, I felt privileged and humbled. I'll never forget that day or her dear friend with every bite of chocolate I take. Because it's true—sometimes, you do need some freaking chocolate.
Kit Rich is Los Angeles-based fitness trainer with endless exercise and nutritional know-how. Hollywood's hottest stars are addicted to Kit's unique, multi-disciplined approach that combines cardio, yoga, Pilates, and weight training. Kit's clients are immediately taken by her funny and honest approach to health and fitness. She treats her clients as she treats herself, "with a hard challenge, sensibility, sensitively, and a good laugh." Follow Kit on Twitter @kitrichfitness.