Today’s Fitness Friday is a little different from the usual. I got an email from Heather at EvoFit a while back. It said “we’ve missed you” and while I know it was a form email it still made me think. I used to be a regular participant in group fitness and now I can’t even remember the last time I took a class other than yoga. Here’s my letter back:
Dear Heather (and other group fitness instructors),
Thank you for checking in. It has been a while. I’m doing really well, I hope you are too. I haven’t been to class because… well… you trained me right out of it. In the best way. You taught me how to go to the gym and get it done all by myself.
I remember a couple years ago when I joined the family fitness center. My exercise routine was pretty much just running and the occasional Jillian Michaels DVD. Over the years I had tried strength training a few times but never felt comfortable/confident in it. Probably because I had really poor proprioception and had absolutely no idea what I was doing. ( I never participated in sports or dance growing up and was always picked last for gym class.) When I showed up for my first group fitness class I was nervous as hell but determined to try. I fought my social anxiety and natural introversion and walked into the room. I got a spot in the front so I could watch myself in both the front and side mirrors and paid more attention to getting my form right than I did to getting the right number of reps in. I liked group fitness and kept going, especially to classes like yours where I knew that the instructor would be watching my form and correcting me. I even started going to the outdoor bootcamp classes at Evolution Fitness, which felt so much more like play than work. I made some great friends though group fitness.
I became completely dependent on group fitness for my workouts, which is tricky when you’re a working mom! Getting to classes on time or making time for classes didn’t always work so I missed more workouts than I would’ve liked. I knew I wasn’t getting the results I wanted. That’s when I heard about the Evolution Fitness 10 Week New Year New You Transformation Challenge. After a lot of discussion I decided to make the investment and join. The trouble was, my post Christmas budget was only able to cover the option of 1 trainer workout per week. That meant that three other times per week I would need to go to the gym and work out alone!
Fortunately the gym workouts were simple and easy to follow. I remember that one day was pretty much all pushups, pullups (assisted of course!), and squats with dumbbells. Going into that part of the gym alone was so intimidating! I stayed pretty consistently in the stretching/overflow strength area, far from the true weight room whenever possible. I got some great results from the transformation challenge but I think the most valuable thing I gained was the knowledge of how much easier and less stressful it was to work out when it could happen at any time. Sentences like “Girlie has a playdate, I’m off to the gym”, “I’m gonna hit the gym before the grocery store” etc became a part of my regular vocabulary. I also learned that some of the times I have available to work out, like Friday evenings and Sunday afternoons, are really quiet at the gym. Perfect for this crowd hating introvert!
After the Transformation Challenge I didn’t want to stop! We set up three months worth of programs for me to do at the gym all by myself. Each month we met at the gym and went over all the movements, making sure I knew what I was doing. A couple times I forgot or got confused and this is when I learned the beauty of youtube training videos. There are some amazing clips of trainers going over moves with multiple camera angles out there! This was also when I got over my fear of the heavy weight room. You gradually brought me in there, one move at a time, until it became completely comfortable.
For a while I kept going to group fitness but my attendance was gradually declining from a few times a week to once a week to once a month to once every few months. I loved the friendships I had made but the appeal of working out at my own pace on my own timeline was so powerful. I bought some training plans from Karlene and got great results. I tried to still make it to class but it always seemed like if I popped into a group fitness class whatever the emphasis was would be exactly what I had lifted heavy the day before. I don’t actually remember the last group fitness class I took. It might’ve been at EvoFit. It might’ve been BodyPump at the gym. I didn’t know at the time that it would be my last, if I had I would have marked it in some way.
I’d like to thank you for reaching out and inspiring me to write this. Most of all I’d like to say Thank You for training me right out of your classes. For building my confidence one rep at a time. For giving me the gift of solo strength training. One of these days I’ll pop into the studio to say hi. Maybe I’ll even make the timing work to stay for class.
Are you a Group Fitness person or a Solo Workout person? Have you ever switched?