Oceanside, Ca. //
‘I GO BY E.T.’
He yells over the music.
His ocean blue eyes twinkle.
‘But just tell them it means Extra Tender.”
He does another burpee.
This weekend, I had the incredible opportunity to lead a “fitness experience” on behalf of Reebok at the Supergirl Surf Pro in Oceanside, California alongside Ashley Horner and Brittany Weiss, women with powerful voices in the fitness industry and beyond. (Seriously… look up Ashley’s quest to complete 50 Ironman triathlons in 50 days to fundraise for an orphanage in Haiti!)
Our turnout started slim – a Saturday morning workout at the beach isn’t a popular pick. The choice is even less appealing next to a beer garden and fast food stands along a busy boardwalk on summer break. Imagining a crowd of ultra-motivated people ready to be ultra-pumped and ultra-inspired, a hint of disappointment floated in. Nevertheless, all you have is all you need.
Inspired by the upcoming birthday of one of our guests, Sandra, our small team had a mission: start a party that people couldn’t resist. No guilt trip, no pitch, just an open invitation.
Each consecutive mini-workout offered a “challenge by choice” to partner with a new stranger in each round. By design, the workouts required increasing degrees of communication and teamwork. For added sentiment, pieces of each workout were my own tributes to fitness parties before us – like storytelling with exercise.
Working out rarely looks “fun.” The ones who manage to plaster a smile onto the face of suffering seem hard to believe. But sweat wasn’t the only thing that sparkled in the California sun and soon we had newcomers floating in.
A kid, a couple, a group of teenage girlfriends. Venue staff and stage crew took a break. One guy who went by the name Bueno – Mr. Good. And E.T. – barefoot, shirtless, wide eyed and curly haired. A 70-something year old veteran, an ex-prisoner, a father and if you believe him, time traveler.
It’s not hard to see that E.T. is an outcast – an alien of society. Hard to relate, hard to reach, hard to see. People don’t gather to meet him. But his mat sat in the very center of the group at the center of the arena floor and his enthusiasm was more radiant with every rep. His jaw muscles were equally as eager and between sets, he says to me,
“We’re all souls. We’re all children of God.”
He points to his chest.
There are a lot of distractions that draw us away from watching the main stage, but we’re all in these shared moments together to be the light for it. Although Reebok hired us to guide this experience at a Supergirl championship, it was an alien doing burpees who turned the light to what matters most and it’s a Creator beyond any of us that could show up through all of us.
It’s not popular opinion to talk about the concept of faith. It’s taboo to capitalize god and it’s offensive to talk about Jesus. For all the ways we tend to misunderstand each other, mistreat each other, and become passive bystanders to the events that we don’t understand, we share experiences together for truth and not for a stage. We’re all pretty super people, but the main show happened on a cross because of a Love that I’ll need eternity to learn, but have this lifetime to share it.
A final reminder from a sweaty, smiling E.T. as we said goodbye:
“You’ve always got to ask yourself three questions before making a decision to do something. Is it true? Is it kind? And is it necessary?”
He counts out three fingers.
He holds them up.
“If you can’t say yes to all three, you don’t do it.”