Our YMCA has a bulletin board by the front desk, highlighting members. Recently, they've changed it to showcase members who have found success with the Group Fitness classes offered. This month, the Hubster and I were asked to write something for the board, along with another woman from our Turbo Kick class. It's exciting for me to be considered a success story and I wanted to share what we wrote.
My husband and I joined the YMCA in March of 2008. Both of us were overweight and out of shape; something needed to change. We picked the Y because there are so many different things to do and it is so family friendly. We were excited about all the different machines, a welcome sight after using our apartment building’s pitiful excuse for a workout room for almost two years. (An elliptical, a treadmill, and a big, scary weight setup.)
For three months, we barely made our minimum visit requirement to continue getting the discount through our insurance company. We came, walked the track a couple of times, looked around, maybe swam a bit with the kids…but we weren’t doing anything…and nothing was changing.
Last July, while leaving the Y after our daughter’s swim lesson, we ran into friends of ours who invited us to come to Turbo Kick. I laughed, thinking she was kidding. “We’re not exactly in the same shape,” I told her. She said it would be fun.
Fun? I had my doubts. I looked for excuses. But I went anyway, scared out of my mind.
Within minutes (or was it seconds?) I was huffing and puffing and bright red, too embarrassed to leave my position and grab a much needed gulp of water. I still don’t know how I ever made it through that first class. J was just as beat as I was afterwards. He said he would like to do it again, though.
And so we went back. Again, and again.
I never thought I would be one of those gym people who schedules her life around exercise classes. I’ll never forget that first class. The first time we Turbo Kicked twice in one week. Three times in one week. My first Body Pump. The first Turbo/Pump “Double Header.” I couldn’t get enough. No more excuses. That first night opened the door to Group Fitness classes for me. I scoured the schedule with a highlighter, marking classes I wanted to try. Body Step, Body Flow, Fitness Yoga, Mat Pilates…later, Body Pump, Zumba, Hip Hop Hustle, PiYo. I’ve tried (almost) all of them. I love (almost) all of them! I have hundreds of dollars in workout videos at home on a shelf, but I’ve discovered I need someone I can’t fast forward through standing in front of me for an hour, telling me what to do, encouraging, pushing. Telling me I can do it. (Because now I know I CAN!)
I think it’s great the instructors offer options for different skill levels. I admit, though, that I found myself staying on the easier side of things for a long time. One night in Turbo Kick, Jennie told the class, “If you’re new, do this,” demonstrating the lower impact move I was working. “Hey,” I thought, “I’m not new anymore.” It was an epiphany and all that I needed to step things up.
This is not the first time I’ve tried to lose weight. In 2003, I tried a new diet plan and did walking videos in my living room. I lost 50 pounds in six months…I actually weighed 30 pounds less than I weigh now. I went off the diet, gained all of my weight back, plus an extra 25 pounds or so. I was miserable.
I didn’t take a serious “before” picture because I didn’t think there would really be an “after.” This time, I’m doing it for good, though. I’m eating right and moving more than I’ve ever moved in my life. I don’t get winded walking up stairs anymore. I’m wearing clothes that I couldn’t wear even when I weighed less. The scale isn’t moving so quickly these days, but I am okay with that for the most part—a pound of muscle weighs the same as a pound of fat, but it sure looks different! In the year since we’ve started Group Fitness classes at the Y, I’ve lost 30 pounds and more than 14 inches. I feel incredible. And while this is more of an “In progress” picture than an “After” one, I definitely consider myself a success story!
The Group Fitness classes at the Y have helped me on many levels. First, they have given my fitness plan a sense of direction. Before doing classes like Turbo Kick and Body Pump, my fitness plan was nonexistent. I would come and ride the bike or lift weights or run on the treadmill. But I had no real sense of direction, no end purpose or goals.
After doing my first Turbo Kick class, I was definitely hooked. Even though I was making a lot of mistakes, I was having a good time. Then I ventured into Body Pump. I had done some power lifting in high school, so I had the basic idea of what I was doing there. It was just a matter of regaining proper form and getting my strength back.
Which leads me into another thing that the Group Fitness classes have done for me; they taught me that I have the capacity to learn new things. They may not sink in right away, but I’ll get it over time. What I really appreciate is that the instructors take time to make sure that you are doing things the right way. They do it even if it means taking time after class to answer your questions and walk you through things so you understand them.
The one side benefit of the group classes is the camaraderie. Even though you are all in class working and sweating your way to a new you, there are really cool people there to encourage you. Both my wife and I have made many new friends since joining the classes.
If you would’ve told me a year ago that I’d be leaner, stronger, more confident and in the best shape I’ve been in since college, I probably would’ve laughed. But here I am now, stronger both physically and emotionally. My clothes also fit me a lot better. And yes, I am in the best shape I’ve been in since college, which was about 20 years ago.
In fact, if you would’ve told me a year ago that I would’ve completed a sprint triathlon, chances are that I would’ve questioned your sanity. But guess what? Not only did I complete my first triathlon, I’m looking forward to doing more of them in the future! In fact, I’m actually looking forward to training for the next triathlon season.
The Group Fitness classes have also shown me that a new body doesn’t just happen by snapping my fingers and hoping a genie will come out and grant me a wish for a leaner, stronger body. I actually had to work for it. And so far, the work is paying off. In the last year I have lost close to 20 pounds. I’m not quite where I want to be, but I’m well on my way. And thanks to the guidance of instructors like Jennie, Beth, Julie, and Sarah, I know the direction that will get me there.