Liv Del Brocco is a volunteer Ambassador for The Cairn Project. This year, she’s tacking a big challenge:48 of New Hampshire’s 4,000’ peaks by the end of the year. The peaks are all mountains with an elevation of 4,000’ and a minimum of 200 feet of prominence. Liv has two more peaks to go! For more info, check out Liv’s campaign page.
Working out, whether that’s at the gym or in the mountains, keeps me grounded. It distracts me from all the stressful noise and decisions that go on around me every day. I cherish the moments when I can put all my focus on my body, channeling negative energies into productive movements. Working out is a time that I can challenge myself to accomplish new things. In another light, it’s a time I can challenge myself to slow down and take a break. All of these ideals have been crucial in the last three years as I’ve undergone personal transitions while trying to stay sane during the COVID lockdown.
Some folks get sweaty on their six-mile run. Others get sweaty on their walk to work in New York City. For some, it’s public speaking that gets their sweat glands going. And for others still, it’s focusing on an intense yoga pose. What’s the difference between all of these instances? I would argue there is none.
I can’t remember when the #GetSweaty hashtag originated, maybe sometime during COVID lockdown when my routine was destroyed and I struggled to love my body as much. But the thought behind it was always there: movement of any kind is valuable, and it certainly isn’t always pretty.
When everything shifted online, including workout classes, it exacerbated the social media phenomenon of appearing “perfect.” Instead of working out alongside my peers, I was watching Nike App videos of professional athletes who felt so far removed from my abilities. As a result of lacking real-life connection to our communities, people shared even more of their personal lives on social media. But, somehow it was still with a façade. I was frustrated.
How can we expect people to put themselves out there and try something new if all the existing content shows perfection? When has the process ever been perfect from the beginning? Getting connected to our brains and our bodies is rewarding at best, but almost always messy despite our best efforts. The #GetSweaty hashtag is my way of addressing the gap between what you see and what you get.
I love to PR (personal record) during a weight lift as much as the next person. I also post my mountain summit pictures on Instagram, usually with some sort of filter added. But somewhere along the way, a thought occurred to me: what if someone showed the other part of this journey? What if someone showed the process in all its struggle-bus glory? How might that change peoples’ ideas around what it takes to get sweaty?
Somewhere deep in this #GetSweaty content is a message to be kind to ourselves, as well as to be proud of our small victories in a day, a week, or a month’s worth of effort.
I began adding photos to my Instagram story immediately after finishing a workout: glossy with sweat and typically with a pained face. I wanted to communicate the thought, “This is how I really feel when I work out!” I wasn’t sure anyone was watching, or even cared. But somehow these photos held me accountable to embrace my own process with kindness, and that was enough.
I started to emphasize this in my Instagram stories, “One set in and I’m ded, as it should be for #getsweaty.” I wanted to remind folks, and myself, that you don’t have to be an Olympic athlete to be in tune with your body and treat it with care. I try to practice what I preach by being honest when I’m having a bad day. Somewhere deep in this #GetSweaty content is a message to be kind to ourselves, as well as to be proud of our small victories in a day, a week, or a month’s worth of effort. Things don’t always go to plan. Sometimes you don’t feel up to par for what you had intended. And that’s okay.
Since starting #GetSweaty posts almost three years ago, I’ve slowly gotten more and more responses from people on Instagram. Close friends laugh at my photos, long lost acquaintances tell me my photo motivated them to go on a walk that day, and everything in between. I still don’t expect anyone to be watching me when I post a photo with my dripping face and silly expression. I’m trying to keep my own workouts fun and motivating. But hearing back from my community adds an element of support, inspiration, and connection that I found was lacking during the height of COVID. Thank you, if you’ve responded or reached out to a #GetSweaty post. You keep me going.
At the end of the day, all of this noise is here to say one thing: have fun out there. Don’t be afraid to try new things and look silly while you’re doing it. Go hard enough that your upper lip joins the sweat club. Or, give yourself a break and embrace the stillness of the moment. Get outside for 10 minutes or a whole day. Enjoy the process of it all, along with the ebbs and flows of your progress. And don’t forget to tag me if you find yourself taking a prime #GetSweaty selfie.
Liv Del Brocco
“I have recognized my privilege as a white woman from the upper/middle class and I have decided that I want to be able to use that as a tool to help others. Being in a position of privilege allows me to make other voices heard or use my connections to help other people." See Liv's ambassador page.