Ode to The Gym, Part One: The Journey


For those who know me, it’s no secret that I love the gym.  Gold’s Gym, to be exact.  Compared to most of my friends and acquaintances there, I’m a relatively new member, and yet it has become both a sanctuary of stress-sloughing, and my energizing powerhouse, where I go to escape and where I go to focus.  Throughout this multi-part post, I plan to tell you how I benefit from being a member, the pros and cons of joining, how to choose the best gym, and more!  So…

Why did I join?

If you could look at a chart of my physical activity over the last 4 years, you would see a steady, strong incline.  It has never, nor will it ever (hopefully) decline or dip. I never made myself join because I needed to lose weight and wanted to punish myself.  It was a natural progression.  It was my body saying, “Hey, you love to be active.  That gym can be your playground.”

This growth started in the fall of 2007, when I began to dance again after a post-high school hiatus.  I danced a few times a week, and that was it. Staple foods included cheese Ritz Bits. I looked like this:

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During the first half of 2008, I danced several times a week again, and I began to notice how much happier my body was when I was moving.  Never once, however, did I make the connection between ballet and exercise.  It was simply an expression of my soul. Staple foods during this time Naked Juice and Lion’s Choice roast beef sandwiches.  A little better, but not much. I looked like this:

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Pause for a moment in the summer of 2008. Something clicked. I was okay with my weight, my appearance, my dancing.  Just okay.  But one day as I was eating chocolate chip pancakes drowned in syrup with a glass of 2% milk, I thought, “If I keep eating these every day, what will I look like in 5 years?” This thought scared me into action, especially when I looked back at recent pictures of myself and found that things had been expanding without my awareness.  I started to run 2-3 miles a few times a week. I liked it. I also started doing yoga via a program on TV. Staple foods during this time were whole eggs and toast for breakfast every day.  And lots of peanut butter. And off-brand cheese Chex Mix. I was willing to eat healthier sometimes, but wasn’t ready to change. I looked like this:

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(source: Maggie Inhofe)

In 2009, the year I met Sean,  I was really starting to notice changes in my body.  I continued to improve my diet, and walking around Lindenwood campus all the time was helping, too. Plus, I was dancing more than ever.  By the time Christmas rolled around, every one was noticing how much healthier I looked.  And I felt GREAT! Staple foods during this time included more veggies, but still a lot of processed “diet” foods.  I looked like this:

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2010: I made a monumental discovery.  I didn’t just desire to be skinny; I could build muscle and be toned!  I started to do more TV programs.  My favorite was Gilad’s Bodied in Motion, 25 minutes of lunges, light weights, and core work.  By the summer time, I was starting to squeeze in 2 Gilad’s per day.  I also began reading health blogs.  Now, I was making my own nutritious meals, cutting down on red meat, and turning away from some processed foods.  I had TONS of energy and even relished in going up and down the stairs in my house. This is what I looked like:

Recital time!  I love my students.

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Late Summer 2010 brought yet more changes.  I had graduated from Gilad and began to do harder, hour-long workouts with Cathe Friedrich in my basement.  This involved cardio boot camp drills, heavier lifting, and step aerobics. For my birthday, I got my own step and heavier weights because my 5 pounders were getting easy. I had never put my body through anything like this before and it was FREAKING OUT. I could see my muscles now!  During this time, however, I went a little crazy with the calorie counting.  This deserves its own post, for sure, but let’s just say I worried over everything I put in my mouth. This is what I looked like:

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Now we come to the very beginning of this year, 2011. I started out on the long, long, road to healthier, non-restrictive eating.  But I was bored doing the same TV workouts.  I felt as thought I was confining myself to the cold basement, and because my instructor was on the TV screen, I was losing motivation.  My body craved more.

Enter Gold’s Gym.  Oh, I passed you everyday on my way to dance, all lit-up and buzzing with energy even late at night.  I could only image what fitness Mecca might lay beyond your doors. I did my research online and found that you offered way more classes than my TV. Plus, I was just curious: look at how much I’d changed my body on my own over time…what would it take to get even stronger?  Above all, my kind of people went there; people who loved to work out as much as I did.  I could be normal at Gold’s!

Since I’d failed to get a gym membership for Christmas, I ventured out to do it on my own.  I started with a 7 day pass, thinking that a week might just quench my fitness thirst.  After all, I new a membership wouldn’t be cheap, and I wasn’t sure that it would be worth my money.

But after that very first step aerobics class, I was hooked.  The energy in that classroom could probably have powered the entire gym – people were excited and happy to be there!  The instructors were fabulous, the equipment clean, the facility full of little gems, like the cardio cinema and the hot tub.  Even though it pained me to part with the money, when my trail pass had ended, I joined without hesitation.

Now I’ve been a member for almost 8 months, and I LOVE IT!

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See ya later for part two!  Have a happy Sunday and eat more greens!

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