Fitness was not always my thing.  

In fact, it wasn’t too long ago that I even started to take my health seriously. I was always on the heavy side as a child. From childhood into high school, I was that chubby kid you either endearingly loved or ruthlessly picked on. I can credit my weight to my genetics; if you saw my family, you’d know that most of relatives struggle with obesity and diabetes. As a child, I didn’t really care about my health. My mother and father took care of me– I didn’t have to think about it.  Plus, I played baseball and golf for most of life. I wasn’t a couch potato, and I was always up and doing something.

fitness4nonnersAfter my parents’ divorce in the early 2000s, my mother and I moved across the border from our house in Tijuana, Mexico to San Diego, California. Whether I consciously knew it or not, it was a huge change for me that reflected itself in consequences in my appearance. Slowly, I began gaining fat and becoming overweight. Still the jolly kid I so consistently was, I did not mind. I had plenty of friends who liked me just the way I was, regardless of my weight. To be honest, I was happy.  

After my mother remarried in 2008, I underwent some big changes that affected my daily life. We moved to Annapolis, Maryland and stayed there for half a year, then moved again to Hermosillo, Mexico for three years, then to London, England for four years. These constant moves meant repeatedly losing friends and readjusting to my new ‘home’, only to have to move yet again and start all over. By freshman year of high school, I had grown to my heaviest weight yet. At this point, I was about 175lb at 5’5”. To top it off, I didn’t have many friends at my high school in London. I wasn’t happy with the way I looked anymore, and as a result of the combination of all these factors I fell into a mild case of depression.  

During my PE class my freshman year, we had a class one day where we went to the weight room for a workout. This was the first time in my life that I had ever even touched a weight.  I remember our PE teacher giving us a chest workout. Having absolutely no idea what I was doing, I grabbed the 35s and began repping out a set on the bench. Some of my peers were impressed. “Good job!” I heard from a few of them, and after that workout, I felt great. It was this great feeling of accomplishment that I had never experienced before. From that moment onwards, I always looked forward to my PE class in the weight room.

Once PE ended after freshman year, I wanted to go back. I decided I would try and work out on my own. However, I had no idea what to do or where to start. I wanted to transition from the smaller dumbbells and cables to big-boy barbells and plates. Sometime during my sophomore year, I met an upper classmen at my school named Nick Canavan. He was “the big man on campus”: everyone knew he was strong, swole, and athletic. As a short, chubby kid, I really looked up to him. After talking with him a little more, he started to help me get the basics of the big lifts. Every time I went into the weight room, I saw him lifting insane amounts of weight.  He was always pushing his body to the limit.  His model of persistent work ethic motivated me to do the same.  

After I moved high schools again during my junior year, I kept lifting but it became more recreational than serious. During that time, I learned more about nutrition and began changing my eating habits. That, coupled with regular exercise, slimmed me down to the mid-150s. For the first time in a long time, I was happy with the way I looked. As a result, I was more confident in other areas of my life as well, and it became easier to interact with other people– my life was at an all time high.  

When I arrived to Davidson College, I was consistently both working out and eating well. I felt great– but something in me still felt empty. I wasn’t playing a varsity sport like I was in high school. I missed the competition, I missed playing on a team. It was then that I decided to take up powerlifting style training. I met my gym partner Terry Zervos, and together we pushed ourselves really hard at the gym and gained a lot of strength over the course of the next several months.

Nick Canavan (in red) medalling in a British weightlifting competition with a total of 194kg

At Davidson College, the facilities and fitness resources were very limited for non-athletes like me. There was only one weight room on campus that was accessible to me, and non-athletes only had a two hour time slot during weekdays to use it. Many non-athletes weren’t able to use the weight room at all because of this constraint, because they’d have classes during the limited time slot. After talking with Terry about this problem, we decided to start our own Instagram account called Fitness4Nonners. Originally, we just wanted to document our progress, and eventually figured we would help out other nonners (non-athletes) to reach their fitness goals.  

 

My #Deadlift face. Enjoy this beaut, people. @thepowermagazine #STrongFace PS: @mbslingshot made me do it

A photo posted by Fitness4Nonners (@fitness4nonners) on May 16, 2016 at 3:19pm PDT

 

 

As time went on, we were doing a whole lot of the former, but not too much of the latter.  Scrolling through Instagram one day, I found Fit University’s page and looked through their posts.  I decided to look into it further, and after doing some more research, it seemed like a perfect fit for Terry and I to be part of the Fit University community. We wanted to help other college students reach their fitness goals, and becoming an ambassador would allow us to do exactly that. By becoming a public resource through Fit University, our hope is that we will be able to connect with like-minded individuals and help others. That was, after all, ultimately the goal of creating Fitness4Nonners. I’m very excited to contribute to the Fit University community and be part of the team!

About The Author

Victor Armenta-Valdes is currently studying at Davidson College. For most of his life, he played baseball and golf competitively. As a non-athlete in college, he has taken up powerlifting and looks to compete sometime in his college years.

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