To be honest, life without fitness seems unimaginable to me. Ever since I can remember, I have been an athlete. From running the summer series in my town in the 4 year old division, to choosing to play baseball over art at camp, to eventually joining travel AND rec teams when I could, making my parents crazy driving me everywhere (thanks guys). Fitness has always been in my life.

I think that’s mainly due to my family. Whether it was cheering my mom on in her weekly races, watching my sister in lacrosse games, or seeing my brother do one of the countless (what I thought would be) impossible athletic challenges, someone was always competing. Obviously I had to do the same, and even better– we were competing after all.

Basketball quickly became my sport. There were definitely people who played better than I did, but very few who worked harder. I always pushed to play the best that I could. On one of my high school teams, I became “the pitbull”, which meant I now had a reputation to uphold in addition to the pressure I put on myself.

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Baby me taking home the title of “free throw champ of Fairfield County”

One thing I enjoyed about practice was the feeling of accomplishment (and of trying not to puke) after coach made us do suicides. Knowing I had just given it my all, that there wasn’t any more to leave out on the court, was my favorite form of satisfaction. This is how I tried to handle every sport-related thing I did: let’s just say, with no mercy.

But I guess I became too fierce, too much of a pitbull (who knew that could be a thing!), because I ended up with a concussion that finished my basketball (and every other sport) career. I began to get headaches on a daily basis and I had trouble focusing on simple activities and conversations. Not being able to play sports my senior year was heartbreaking. I had no idea how to function without them in my life– it was what I knew. Sitting on my butt every day after school most definitely wasn’t an option for me, but I had never even considered getting a gym membership because I was an athlete; I didn’t need the gym. Sports were what kept me fit and active. I had a set schedule made by someone else, telling me where and when to workout and that was how I liked it. Having no other option though, and wanting to stay in shape, I knew I needed to get a membership.

For the first few months, I rarely picked up weights. I felt like I’d lost that intense drive that I had when playing sports. Ever since the day I decided to migrate over to the weight area (don’t ask me what drove me to try the weights, because to this day I have NO idea), I haven’t looked back. The feeling I got from lifting more one week than I could the week before, of being sore to the point where I couldn’t walk straight, or of the dripping t-shirt after a HIIT session were what got me hooked to start. What kept me hooked was something completely different.

Fit University Ambassador: Jenna BernardI love fitness because it’s so humbling. You’re never “finished”. There’s ALWAYS more you can be doing or working towards, and of course there’s always someone else better than you. Instead of being discouraged by this, I find it inspiring. Thinking about these things, I become determined to get that extra pull up, run another 30 seconds, or finally get that pistol squat I’ve been trying to get for months (literally– it’s a slow process). Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely times when I feel like I’m not making any progress, or something’s too hard and I should just give up. But the second I achieve the goal I’ve been working towards, all the reasons why I started working out come rushing back into my mind. And lemme tell you, it’s an amazing feeling. If I can get just one other person to change their attitude about working out, I’ll count it as a win. I joined Fit University to be a role model, to show others what they can do when they set their mind to it, and to get them as addicted to fitness as I am.

Fitness is a lifestyle, and anyone who says it’s not the lifestyle for them just hasn’t found their passion yet. There is a role in fitness for everyone, it doesn’t just have to be in the gym. It could be walking your dog around the block every day, or biking to your classes instead of taking the bus. Whatever it is, once you start, I promise you won’t look back. Like me, you’ll be hooked.

About The Author

Jenna Bernard is a current Cornell student studying nutrition and exercise science. She loves all things fitness including running, lifting, swimming, crossfit, high intensity interval training, and jumping on the bed. When she's not cooking or lifting, Jenna enjoys making things for friends and family and taking advantage of the outdoors, hiking in particular. She's looking forward to spreading the joys of fitness!

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