Weekly Digest // Group Fitness Evangelist (part 1)

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I don’t talk a lot about fitness specifically on my blog, but I plan to do more of that this year.  So, I wanted to share a little bit of background on my own journey with fitness to give some insight into why group fitness is so important to me.

I shared a little bit during #reverb14 on this blog.  Being active started at a very young age for me, which is also something I feel strongly about- kids being active and staying active throughout their lives.  We teach children what is important and what the norm is, and being active should just be one more principle of living, like brushing your teeth.

Anyways, my mother is deathly afraid of drowning and didn’t want me or my brother to be the same, so soon after I was able to walk, she threw me into a pool to face her fear straight on.  I’m not complaining, I learned how to swim, and I loved it.  I got onto a local aquatic league team when I was 4 years old – we were called tadpoles cute no? – and raced each other 25 meters in the shallow end.  I bet it was pretty cute.  And slow.

I swam from the age of 4 all the way until I was 18.  Since my swimming league was hosted at a country club, tennis was also available so with many many lessons, I was a reasonable tennis player and dabbled in that in high school.  It was a sport of convenience though.  Something to do in the spring in between swimming seasons that I didn’t completely suck at.

In college, I couldn’t hang with the swimming schedule – 5am practices plus late freshman nights with friends plus suffering school work meant no more team swimming for me.  And I promptly gained my freshman 10 🙂  I didn’t notice right away because I was blissfully unaware of my body and body image.  I had never given second thought to the way my thighs looked in jeans or how my face was rounder and looked bloated.  I saw a picture of myself at the end of freshman year when I was starting my sophomore year and it didn’t look like me.

Commence obsession over how I look.  It’s a slippery slope into being self conscious about everything everywhere and caring what everyone thinks about you.  This initial self awareness changes you.  I was incredibly fortunate to not have this realization until I was almost 19 years old.  Past the age where it could affect your entire relationship with food.  Or, maybe not.  For me, it didn’t.  I decided I would continue to eat pizza and ice cream every night but just work out to compensate.  When I was swimming, that is the way it worked.

War_Memorial_Gym_Virginia_Tech
War Memorial Hall Virginia Tech

So, I started my relationship with the gym.  War Memorial Gym at Virginia Tech.  It wasn’t so much that it was intimidating, it was just confusing.  Machines everywhere I had no idea how to use.  Free weights I didn’t know what to do with.  So, I got on the elliptical because it was uncomplicated.  I ellipitcal’d 5 lbs of my freshman 10 off but was supremely bored.  The sheer willpower I had to have to make the effort to go be bored for 60 minutes was hard to obtain at times most of the time.  That’s when McComas Hall opened, a brand new fitness facility.  Complete with group fitness classes.

hokies working-vt-mccomas-4450rt
This spin room was not at McComas Hall when I was, but I would have LOVED it.

And I had made some girlfriends who were also interested in exercising and taking classes so we all got into it together.  It was partly the classes, but partly the sense of community with my friends and our shared experience there in McComas that kept me motivated.  The intersection of movement, music, and social interaction drew me back every day effortlessly.  And I understood at the time and still hold to this day that the effortlessness of getting there is the key to having mental energy available to give your absolute best while you’re there.

That’s why they say getting there is half the battle.  It really is.  Make it effortless.  Create a situation for yourself in which you want to go.  Even if it’s not specifically to work out.  Go because it’s your hour to escape the rest of your life.  Go because you get to see your friends there.  Go because you love the workout itself- if the treadmill isn’t working for you, don’t do it.  Find something that you love to do and make a workout out of it.

To be continued…

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