How Going Upside Down Changed My Outlook | Katie Proctor

This spring, I’m getting so far out of my comfort zone it’s not even funny.

Part of “the story” I tell myself is that I have weak arms thanks to three {yes, three} broken arms in my childhood. There have even been times during my recent fitness journey that I’ve done so many burpees and planks that I’ve started to feel like I have shin splints in my arms.

I’ve always been envious of the people who can do inversions {seemingly effortlessly} in my yoga class. And I always assumed that could never be me.

But ever since I started coaching, I’ve also made a commitment to stop settling for the comfortable and convenient. 

So I signed up for Handstand School. Yep. 8 weeks of flinging my body upside down in an effort to overcome my fears and prove that I can do hard things.

Walking into the first class, I thought it would be kind of like syllabus day. We’d learn the lay of the land, meet each other and chat, but surely we wouldn’t be doing handstands yet, right?!

In the middle of class, we were tasked with doing our first variation of a handstand. I started to feel my self-doubt creep in, but I gave it {what I felt at the time} was a valiant effort. I have pretty long legs, so I was having trouble placing myself the appropriate distance from the wall so I could maneuver my body into the desired upside down “L” shape. When I asked for help, our instructor provided the appropriate back support so I could hold my form. Then, she did the unexpected.

She called everyone over to my mat.


I hoped that maybe she was just going to direct the class to the next activity. Instead, she shared that everyone would be watching me complete the pose, first unassisted and then assisted.

I felt a slight wave of panic wash over me.

“Good job asking for help. Now you’re just going to embarrass yourself.”

You can’t do this. Why are you even here?

Everyone else is more experienced. They’re either going to laugh or, worse, feel bad for you.

But there was really nothing I could do. So I tried to shake off the anxiety and hoisted myself up, grunting and groaning to get into position. My feet kept slipping off the wall and I just couldn’t hold it.

I came down and was faced with a room full of people. I could barely look anyone in the eyes, while I silently held back tears of shame before I had to do it again – with help from the instructor this time.

It may not have been pretty, but I know exactly why she did it. 

Because I would have continued to just barely put in enough effort to say I tried, and chalk it up to day 1. But she knew I could do better and that I could try harder. I know I pushed myself to the limit during that demonstration, and all I needed was an attitude adjustment {and a little accountability} to get closer to reaching my goals.

I was scared to try and fall. Or more accurately, fail. Many things in my life have come easily, and I tend to avoid those that don’t. No one likes to appear weak or incompetent, but the reality is that’s when you truly demonstrate your strength. And most people are going to rally behind you when you need it most, like my fellow classmates did by supporting my efforts, and like the women in my accountability groups do for each other on a daily basis.

I’m proud of this picture, because it reminds me of my strength of mind and body.

It’s not perfect, but I can look at it and pinpoint areas of improvement, rather than judge myself for what it is not. If I want to nail the pose on day 2, I have to practice. So here I am, working to better myself one day at a time.



When is the last time you did something that truly scared you or made you feel vulnerable? How did you push past the discomfort?

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