A Lesson on Fitness Inspired by Cynthia Erivo


“So, what if we go tonight?” Katie asked me while I was getting dressed on Saturday night. She was searching for tickets to a Sunday performance of The Color Purple on Broadway, but there weren’t any. The show started at 8pm. It was 7:06pm.


Fifty four frantic minutes later, we were in the theater. It was my first time seeing a Broadway show in at least 6 years. Damn, was it a good show to see. Cynthia Erivo captured my attention the moment she stepped foot on stage, and she held it throughout the evening. It was the first time I’ve ever felt a “connection” to a performance like that. I mean, check this out:

This wasn’t my first time seeing Erivo in action. I recently spotted this video in a Facebook group used by the MFF community showing this Tony-award winning badass performing something I’m a bit more familiar with:

I mean, that’s pretty legit, right? It’s essentially a burpee beneath a pull-up, something that fitness challenges or workout nightmares, are made of. Talks of exercise selection and programming preferences aside, I think this is pretty damn awesome to see. Let me tell you my favorite part of this post was: It’s the disclaimer!



Thank you, Cynthia Erivo.  There are so many videos on social media that suggest random challenges, and this is the first time I’ve seen a disclaimer to practice the basics first.  Reading this message got me thinking about something.  Here we go:

I don’t want to rain on any parades in River City, but I’m not the biggest fan of random fitness challenges. Spontaneous challenge can be fantastic, but my preference is for consistent practice to drive meaningful success.  Thank you, Cynthia Erivo, for sharing this with so many people.


Ponder the following questions:  Why do we partake in the one-off fitness challenge? Is it to try something new? Does a community develop around a particular challenge? Is it to test yourself against yourself, or to test yourself against others?

Let’s put the ‘consistency’ of an exercise program on a spectrum. On one end, we have a completely pre-planned, scripted, no-room-for-deviation program. On the other end, we have a completely improvised, made-up-on-the-spot, do-whatever-feels-good program. This continuum of choice is between total restriction versus total freedom.


Consider where you are on this spectrum, both in practice and in mindset. Which side of the spectrum have you been learning towards more in the last few months? Are you more likely to choose one way or the other? Have a general idea?

Let’s practice the opposite of these tendencies.

Let’s say you focused on the opposite. If the workout of the day is your thing, what would your experience be if you followed a specific program for 4, 6, or 8 weeks? If you’re religious in your use of a small handful of exercises, what if you spent 10 minutes of each workout trying something completely new? Consider both the experience for any given workout, and the experience over an extended period of time.

Here’s my hypothesis: If we’re to reap the greatest rewards from our movement practice or workout plan, we need to strike a balance between mastery experiences and moments of exposure. Mastery experiences come from regular, conscious practice of a specific task. Moments of exposure come from novel experiences. Ultimately, we need both to truly live our best lives.



Finding an appropriate balance of regimented and random exercise is relative to our personal preferences. It is not a one-size-fits-all formula, but a personal balance of the needs of our mind and body.

That personal balance is key to sustainable success and enjoyment.  Ultimately, we each find that balance.  Hopefully you also find yourself seeing Cynthia and the cast of The Color Purple, which is absolutely phenomenal.  Thank you!

One Reply to “A Lesson on Fitness Inspired by Cynthia Erivo”

  1. I really like your hypothesis. It feels like you’re in my brain, but with better words.
    I think that balance really changes with the ebb and flow of our energies too.

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