The many phases of staying fit.
I’ve been active my entire life. Or as I like to say, “hyperactive.” AKA, I like to do everything and anything to get my body moving. Starting at the age of 2, I played sports. I did the basics like gymnastics and dance when I was younger, until my complete lack of grace came to light and pulled me into more conventional suburban kid sports like soccer, basketball, softball, and volleyball. I even learned figure skating (despite my ungracefulness)! My “professional” athletic career ended pretty early when I retired after my freshman year of high school, but my active lifestyle was far from over.
My dad has always been an active guy, and he’s a firm believer that “sweating it out at the gym” can solve most problems. So when I quit organized sports, I was quick to find a new activity that would keep me moving (and keep my dad off my back about going to the gym). So I agreed to go with him to my first hot yoga class at a studio in Cambridge, MA called Baptiste. Immediately, I was hooked.
It took me a while to understand the “yogi” mentality. I had to get used to the facts that you cannot “win” in yoga, that you aren’t competing with the people in the class who can put their feet behind their head and stand on their hands no problem, and that you’re focusing on yourself and pushing your own limits. Being the ambitious and motivated person I am, I didn’t want to start yoga the “wimpy” way (to me, “wimpy” yoga was done in a normal temperature, where you’re not sweating out your body weight every class). So, intensity in mind, my dad and I would hit Baptiste every Wednesday throughout the rest of high school. We were the only father-daughter duo in class, and my dad would proudly tell to anyone who would listen.
Outside of yoga, I’d go for the occasional run followed by an ab workout. This yoga/sometimes run & abs routine carried itself into college. Despite the fact that I was in a new place with new people, my workouts rarely changed. I went to the school yoga classes (unheated, unfortunately) and would sometimes reluctantly push through intense time on the elliptical, immediately followed with some ab work. Basically, I did the quintessential “girl workout” that is rarely useful for achieving the kind of fitness goals you think it will. Thankfully, I have an older sister who explained to me that the weight room exists, and that if I wanted to get any stronger, I should go down there. Yeah, to make a fool of myself, I thought. But I did it anyway.
I never started lifting for any specific goal in particular. It was just another activity I could participate in to switch up my routine before I died of boredom on the “dreadmill.” I figured I had nothing to lose by going down to see what all the fuss was about….so I went. I entered the big, scary weight room. My first experience in the weight room went a little like this:
- Enter weight room.
- Look around thinking “what the f*** are all these machines for?”
- Find the free weights and attempt to pick up weights heavier than the 5 pounds.
- Discover that I can’t.
- Pick up the 5 pound weights and try to figure out what to do with them now that they were successfully lifted into my hands.
- Do some bicep curls and try to copy one of the guys down there who knew what they were doing.
- Fail miserably.
- Retreat back to the cardio room.
This first time wasn’t the most successful, but I wasn’t ready to give up yet (that treadmill had gotten pretty unbearable). Eventually, I looked up some good arm exercises for beginners online and began incorporating strengthening into my routine. I tried Kayla’s BBG, which not only introduced me to HIIT, but more fun full body exercises where I could use weights. The notion that girls shouldn’t lift because they will look bulky or manly is squashed every day by strong ladies lifting heavy and looking good doing it. Trying something new saved my life when it comes to fitness (even though it was scary and I felt like a fool at first). Now, I feel like I have so many options when I enter the gym that my workout routine could never get boring (even to my ADHD mind).
If you’re on the fence or feeling stuck with your current routine, take it from me: if you hate your workouts, give something else a try. You never know where you might end up.
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