In Blessed memory of my father, Jeffrey Schiller
One of the biggest turning points in my life was my father’s first stroke in Dec 2008. I’ve spoken often about how it inspired my journey in fitness and learning about nueroplasticity. I have not often talked about how debilitating and traumatizing the experience was. Group fitness became my catharsis. When it became clear he wasn’t getting better and it was time for me to leave school and get a job, I poured all my fear, anxiety and pain into being an Equinox trainer and taking as many classes as I could.
I would train clients, take classes, then go home to encourage my dad to do his physical therapy exercises, sleep 4 hours and get up and do it all again. I read about the frontiers of neuroscience, and stroke recovery. I created a brand from everything I learned.
I remember during the toughest time, taking Coco Cohen’s cycle class at W76th street and crying while riding the bike and singing along to Destiny’s Child’s ‘Survivor.’
This past Wednesday, I sat on my bike at the front of that class, teaching in that very same studio, and cried again. Two weeks ago, I lost my father.
The feeling of loss and sadness in my heart is something we do not have words for. I am blessed to have so many of you in so many of my classes that have been so incredibly supportive during this shocking time. I’ve found that teaching and connecting with all of you to be truly comforting and healing. Thank you for your compliments and sharing how my teaching has inspired you. A big part of that is from my dad. He was a brilliant man who always taught us to do the best we can and to value education and learning.
Amidst the waves of grief I’ve also experienced something surprising. A sudden release of old angers, frustrations and insecurities that have held me back for so long. Life is too short. My father left too soon. So why should I let those fears in my mind keep me stuck in procrastination? I won’t. I want to do things in the memory of my father, who was a wonderful and brilliant man. All as what we call an aliyat neshama, a blessing and elevation of my fathers soul.
My themes the past week have been powerful. My only regret is being too busy with the stuff in my life to go visit with my dad as often as I could have. So in class we’ve been working on looking at what holds us back, in a self compassionate and non judgmental way, ‘get over it,’ because there’s more value on the other side.
At the end of my classes I’ve been encouraging everyone to pick up the phone and call or go visit with someone they haven’t connected with in a while.
I’ve learned very quickly the past two weeks that connecting with people and being present is much more important than the first world struggles of my life that distract me. One of my students even bought a plane ticket to visit her parents.
I encourage you to pick up the phone, or go have a visit with someone that perhaps you haven’t connected with as much as you could have. Then go to the gym, or take a class, and keep yourself healthy so you can be here for a long time and enjoy all your time with people who are important to you.
So again, thank you to all of you who have been so kind, and encouraging. Thank you to all of you who have donated to help my family during this unexpected and challenging time.Thank you for your hugs, for checking in, for letting me borrow your car and thank you for reading this. I hope that it will touch your heart and inspire you on your journey.
In blessed memory of my father, Jeffrey Schiller
עיה מוני בן יוסף ויהודית