Print   |   Back
April 15, 2013
Life on Planet Kathy
Exercising the Body and the Soul
by Kathryn H. Kidd

In these post-hospitalization days, my life with Fluffy has taken on a new routine. We get up at eight a.m. Then I get as dressed as the day’s activities require me to be dressed. After that, it’s exercise time.

By “exercise,” I do not mean a few cursory stretches. On the contrary, Fluffy is my exercise coach, and he describes his techniques as “enthusiastic.” I don’t think “enthusiastic” explains my morning exercise routine. Fluffy is the Imperial Storm Trooper of exercise. Pain is his friend. Whether he is torturing me with exercise bands or with weights, when he exercises me I know I have been exercised.

To give you a rough idea of how rigorous the exercise period is, we’re usually finished by about 10 a.m. That’s a lot of exercising.

I didn’t realize how draconian Fluffy’s exercise regime was until we started going to the physical therapist twice a week. I actually see the physical therapist for 45 minutes, but the exercising doesn’t take nearly that long.

You see, the professional therapists don’t want to wear me out. When they give me an exercise, they’re likely to have me do ten repetitions of it before they want me to sit back and rest. I rest for longer than I exercise. Fluffy has me do the same exercises for 20 reps without resting afterwards, and he’s a lot stricter about my form than the physical therapists are.

The bottom line is that the biggest exercise factor I get in my trips to the physical therapist is that I have to get in and out of the car at home and at the hospital. This is no easy feat. By the time I’m in the car I’m covered in spots that are going to be bruises, and I sit in wonder that my ankle can be contorted so drastically without actually breaking. Now that’s exercise. Pedaling for six minutes on an arm bike that I used for 18 minutes back in the hospital doesn’t even seem worth the effort.

If you were to say we are wasting our $35 co-pay at the physical therapist’s twice a week, you would be mistaken. You see, Fluffy absorbs everything the physical therapist says and does like a sponge. If the physical therapist has me write the alphabet in the air with a two-pound ball, Fluffy goes out and buys two two-pound balls so I can do the exercise in stereo.

This week, the physical therapist tried without success to get me to stand up and transfer my hands from the wheelchair to the parallel bars. When I failed, he said I didn’t have enough upper body strength to do the transfer. He recommended that Fluffy and I spend a week or two having me stand up at my wheelchair and transfer my weight from one hand to the other on the armrests. He said that maybe after a couple of weeks I would have the strength to move from the wheelchair to the parallel bars.

The next day, at the end of Fluffy’s exercise program, he had me sit in front of my walker and stand up at the wheelchair. Within five minutes, I was standing with the walker, without ever doing what the physical therapist recommended we spend the next week or two doing. Fluffy’s exercise program gave me the strength and the courage to do something that the physical therapist thought was completely beyond my grasp.

The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that life is like Fluffy’s exercise program. God gives us challenges throughout our lives. Some of those challenges are so hard that we may be tempted to say, “What in the world were You thinking?”

Eventually we get through those trials, and when we do He throws something even harder at us. If we accept the challenge, we eventually overcome the adversity and are stronger for having done so.

We don’t have to accept those trials. God gives us the agency to refuse to learn from the ordeals we are given. And truth be told, if you think that there’s going to be a harder challenge right behind this one, it’s pretty tempting to refuse to take on that first test. But if we do accept them and prevail, we will grow one step at a time into the people the Lord intends us to be. We’ll be stronger, and more competent, and more courageous. All it takes is to face every encounter head on, doing the best we can do — and sometimes even better than we think we can possibly do.

We are going to continue going to the physical therapist. After all, I get a lot of exercise getting in and out of the car, and Fluffy gets a lot of fodder for my exercise program. Just today we did more than a half dozen exercises that we hadn’t done a week ago. All of them were motivated by our trusty physical therapist.

But make no mistake about it. It’s not the physical therapist who is responsible for the progress I am making. It’s Imperial Storm Trooper Fluffy — who, like God, loves me enough to cause me pain, and who inspires me to do things I didn’t even know I was capable of doing.

Copyright © 2023 by Kathryn H. Kidd Printed from