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December 01, 2022 6 min read

Guest blog by Ash Knuth
Learning what unstoppable means to me 

Hello Oulaverse, my name is Ash Knuth, creator of this month's affirmation. I am excited to guide you through what being unstoppable means to me, and the inspiration for my design.
You might be asking yourself, “who the heck is Ash?” or “where did she come from?” Don’t worry; I know I am not the most visible person in the community. I am one of those introverts with a big personality, but I am also very shy and have social anxiety. I am not likely to start a conversation, but if approached, I will spend all night finishing one with you. 
A little about me
Professionally, I am a product and operations leader with extensive experience solving challenging problems and finding unique solutions to fit business needs. In real life, I am an artist, gamer, nerd, and costume fabricator with a growth mindset, who loves leveling up my skills, and teaching myself new things. I am from Minnesota, born and raised in the Twin Cities, where I live with my husband of nine years, Russell, and our two rescue dogs, Penny and Alabama. Last spring, we bought a camper and spent every weekend possible visiting friends and family across Minnesota and South Dakota.
Why Oula for me?
Like a lot of people, I found Oula through a friend during a time when I needed to make a change. After putting my job ahead of my health for years, I was hospitalized for something that should have been taken care of with routine outpatient surgery. Instead, I had three surgeries and pancreatitis for being so stubborn. Being so weak and dependent on others was new to me. On top of it, I was at my heaviest weight when I went into the hospital, and at 5 feet, 11 inches tall, it wasn’t easy for people to aid me in getting around.
From that point forward, I decided taking care of myself was my non-negotiable, and I started working on building healthy habits. Eating better for energy and gut health was first on the list. I knew I needed to move more, because I was tired of having an 80 BPM resting heart rate. I had no idea how to get started, and that’s when I ran into my old friend, Nichole. I knew she was teaching some kind of group fitness class she enjoyed, and I got up the courage to ask her about it.
Nichole has this great way of explaining ‘taking what you need’ from Oula. When she said it was cardio dance, I must have protested and said I have no rhythm, and mentioned that I can’t even clap on beat. She told me she thinks of Oula like a Lutheran church potluck, and that you get to choose what you want to try every time you come to class. Maybe you’re like, “oh, that jello salad looks good – not sure about tater tot hotdish (casserole) today, but calico beans and Swedish meatballs are my jam!” So maybe you just step-touch or grapevine instead of turn, and that’s okay because it’s not about what it looks like; it’s about how it feels. It was because of that conversation that I signed up for her next Oula session through community ed.
What does being unstoppable mean to me?
When I think about the affirmation, I think about all the traits we need to be unstoppable. To me, it’s not about being stop-proof, but about how you start again. It’s about having the momentum to get back to it when you’ve been stopped, and keep going. It’s about the support system you have in place that cushions your fall, and lifts you back to your feet. It’s about the confidence that it takes to say, “Okay, I learned from that mistake, now let's do it again, but better.” It’s about a willingness to grow and adapt, and forge ahead on a new path when the one you were on ends. We can’t be unstoppable without adaptability, reliance, confidence, growth, or connections to those around us.
For me, Oula was truly an exercise in being unstoppable. I have a habit of only liking things that I am good at right from the start. I can’t say I was surprised, but that first Oula class was awkward and uncomfortable. Saying I had two left feet is an understatement, but I was proud that I moved for an entire hour. Nichole said at the start of class that it could take three or four classes before you start to ‘get it,’ and it starts to feel more natural. At first, I was only signed up for one class per week for eight weeks, and I knew I didn’t want to feel like a fish out of water for half my sessions. When class was over and I got to my car, before I drove away, I signed myself up for a second community ed session she was leading on Saturdays. I figured getting to the fourth session twice as fast would mean I’d get to a place of enjoyment more quickly, so I’d be less likely to give up. If I hadn’t trusted my friend and doubled down on leveling up, I don’t think I would have stuck to it.
Before I knew it, I was a YMCA member for the first time in my life and went—all alone—to my first Oula class led by someone I didn’t know. It was truly testing the limits of my anxiety just walking into the building for the first time. Lucky for me, I stepped through the door of the studio, only to be greeted by two of the most amazing people that I didn’t know I needed in my life. Recognizing that I was a new face, Chelle and Rosy literally welcomed me with open arms and eased my urge to run, just by making me feel at home in this strange new world of group fitness.
I kept going despite the fact that it was hard. I showed up even though I dreaded Fridays because the new songs felt all wrong in my body. I kept practicing moving my body in different ways and following along until I started to feel comfortable taking up space and being loud. Just knowing that I was resilient enough to overcome something that felt so strange, and to gain confidence in something that I never thought I could do made me feel unstoppable.
Recently, my faith in being unstoppable was challenged, as my position at the company I have been at for eight years was suddenly eliminated, due to corporate restructuring. I found out at 8:30 AM on a Friday, as my boss read me a script to inform me that I was a part of company-wide layoffs. I hung up the phone and cried for five minutes. I called my husband, who said he was leaving work shortly to come home and be with me. I felt sorry for myself for maybe 30 minutes, until the calls started coming in from my peers.
The next thing I know, I’m saying things like:
“I’ll be fine.”
“It was time.”
“I needed this so I can finally move on.”
“This is the motivation I need to move on to better things.”
… and I believed them. Why? Because I had spent years practicing doing hard things and teaching myself to get back up, and do it again, but better.
As I started to reach out to my contacts and friends I had worked with over the years, I was overwhelmed by the help people were willing to give—time and effort they didn’t owe me, but were freely offering just because they recognized me as an unstoppable force, able to work through problems and get results. Even strangers who’d only heard about me through people they trusted were getting on calls to mentor me, because they wanted to see me do new and better things.
This experience has made me realize that while the desire and drive to be resilient comes from within, it’s the communities we build and the support they provide that truly allow us to be unstoppable.
What does the design mean?
If you think the design looks like a tarot card, you are correct. I have had this design floating around in the back of my brain since the current Oula logo was unveiled.
Truth be told, I am an atheist, but I love tarot cards and their history. I love that they have stood the test of time, and while the symbolism is constant, their meaning changes based on the reading, the person, and their situation.
I used the strength card as inspiration, which is always depicted with a feminine character, a lion, and the infinity symbol. Feminine strength is thought to be calming, constant, and unshakable, even in the face of something chaotic and dangerous like a lion. The card represents inner strength, self-awareness, self-love and determination, which I believe is a perfect recipe for being unstoppable.

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