I knew absolutely nothing when I began. Like, I was nervous about even getting on a treadmill because I didn't know how to turn it on and make it go. Something as simple as that can feel like a hurdle too high to get over. So I signed up for the free consultations, just to get an orientation. But that appointment wasn't for at least a week, and I needed to be able to do something in the meantime. There were loads of options for spin classes, almost daily. I figured that I could ride a bike that wasn't going anywhere, and at least an instructor could show me how to set up and use the equipment. That, she did. And for the first week, I only used stationary bikes and the pool. Hey, at least it was a start.
When I joined, I assumed that I would mostly do my own thing, and take the occasional class. I watched some of the classes and thought, "meh, not for me. Looks too hard." It was in doing the consultations with a Y staff, to orient me to the different areas of use, and come up with a basic plan of what I could do when I went in, that she challenged me to try some classes. She suggested options that were low impact, and gave me just enough encouragement to think, "yeah, I should really try this." What I discovered was that it was easier for me to motivate myself to get my butt into the gym when there was a firm start time. And when someone was leading me in what to do. I didn't have to think about it for myself.
Tuesday night spin classes became my staple, the first anchor point for a routine. I will forever be grateful for the instructor because she made it fun, welcoming, and a community. I hadn't expected that aspect of it. It was a positive enough experience that I decided to try other classes. After all, I had joined the Y so that I could get variety, and not just do the same thing over and over as I had been doing with swimming. One of the classes that intrigued me - and fit into my schedule - was just called "Strength." It was led by a young guy, who clearly had a devoted following in that class. Someone told me he was also a personal trainer, but I thought little of it.
See, when I joined I was adamant that I would never pay anything beyond the basic monthly fee. I thought "on principle, I will never pay extra than what I'm already paying for!" I just used the facility and took the classes. There were posters and ads around for various small group programs that were interesting, but I didn't pay much attention to the one called Biggest Loser. Not only was I unwilling to shell out more money, I was also trying to focus on exercise and strength, not just on weight loss. Everything I knew about the TV show put me off, and I assumed that something called Biggest Loser would of course be along the same lines.
Until, that is, the guy teaching that strength class started to promote the Biggest Loser to the participants and I realized what it really was. The instructor was Mat, a personal trainer putting together a small group challenge, which would have some weight loss components to it, and nutrition tracking, but would mostly be leading us in targeted exercise. It was exactly what I needed, and on top of that, I had some sense of what I was getting with the instructor. Mat had really impressed me with his teaching style and knowledge. So, I signed up for Biggest Loser.
In the first 8-week round of Biggest Loser, I ended up having a few one-on-one sessions because sometimes the other participants didn't show up. I got a sense of the different kinds of exercise I could do, and how to get better. Those progressions translated into the other classes I took. Part of that challenge was to attend a Y class that we hadn't done before, which is how I became introduced to TRX. It was a positive period of growth, and the ending of that course coincided with me hitting the 100 lbs mark. Even though I won that round and knew much, much more than I had when I started in January, I didn't feel finished and I missed the social aspect of working closely with other people who had similar goals, so I signed up for the second round in the Spring.
Small group training had been forecast to be a fitness trend in 2013 and for me, it turned out to be true. However, after 16 weeks of it, I assumed I was done and would go back to handling things on my own. I now had tools, confidence to join and try classes, and a few friendly faces to meet up with or work out with. And then Mat sucked me back in by offering an Outdoor Fitness Challenge in the summer.
I wasn't initially sure about tire flipping, carrying sand bags, or running obstacle courses. I couldn't even imagine what one would do with a fire hose, and when he talked about "battle ropes" I had to Google it to figure out what he meant! But I was a camp girl at heart, and I wanted to be outdoors, so that appeal alone was enough to hook me. That, and curiosity. I wanted to know if I could actually DO it. (At some point I will write more about the experience itself, because it was a pretty big turning point and an awesome summer of strength).
By the time Fall rolled around, I knew I was going to take the next step to personal training. When I had won the first round of Biggest Loser, I got some sessions with Mat as prizes. Genius marketing strategy, that. Because I was hooked, and even though I didn't sign up right away, it planted the seed in my head. Plant the seed in spring, and harvest the crop in the fall. He got himself a client.
That brings us pretty much to the present day. 2013 was all about getting stronger, and it was mostly through small group training, led by a personal trainer, who I then began working with one on one. At some point I'll wax poetic about what makes him great (just to see if he's still reading), and translate my own experience into some tips for friends who are thinking about getting a trainer. I'll talk about the social impact that the YMCA has had for me, what they like to call "your Y story." About how volunteering and getting involved is part of the next step in the fitness journey, because it's actually impossible to do it in a bubble, all on your own.
If you've read this far, you'll see that the overriding theme has been to TRY. I made so many assumptions about what I would, could, or should do. Yet, each period of growth came when I decided to try something new, whether I was challenged or invited by someone else or whether the choice came from me. I tried.
Ultimately, health and fitness is all about progression. You don't go from fat to fit in one jump. I started very small, formed the habit of consistency, added some variety, changed eating along the way, and just. kept. going. I'm not sure I would have kept it up to the same extent had it not been for finding a fitness coach. Meeting Mat was serendipity. He got me to try. Over and over.
He's also the one who introduced me to P!nk's song which became my anthem for the first half of the year.
One guess as to what the song was.