Inside: Have you ever wondered what it looks like to leap completely out of your comfort zone? Then I hope you’ll follow along as I tell you about the time I joined a CrossFit style gym by mistake.
It started completely innocently. I was recently invited to check out Friendship Fitness, with locations in Dublin and Lewis Center. I decided to jump on this opportunity because one area of my life that I continually dream of improving is my fitness and health. Operative word? Dream. I’m not so great at the action part.
Maybe you’re in the same boat?
And if I’m being honest, a gym with “friendship” in the name sounded right up my alley. I paused for a moment to picture what workouts must be like at such a place. I envisioned a group of us, holding hands, smiling and laughing as we sat in a circle, leisurely stretching like swans and passing around snacks.
Always with the snacks.
So I signed myself up and Ryan, one of trainers at the gym, reached out to schedule an assessment. I was feeling really good about myself. I was going to go explore a new gym, make some new friends, probably do some awesome swan stretching and maybe eat some snacks.
I decided to check out their Instagram page and that’s when ice-cold fear set in.
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Happy Gratitude Friday! 🙌🏻 One of the things we are most thankful for is helping our friends accomplish things they are proud of… learning new skills, losing weight, getting stronger, being healthier…really reaching whatever their goals are! 💪🏻 What’s something you are proud of accomplishing recently?! ⬇️ #fitnesswithfriends #gratitudefriday #goals #fitness
I had the sinking suspicion that I was probably not going to be sitting in a circle, stretching like a swan, and eating snacks with my new fitness friends.
If I’m being honest, I thought about backing out.
But then I remembered that one of my family’s biggest core beliefs is that there’s something magical waiting for you just outside your comfort zone. And I often talked to my daughter about doing things that terrified her. Confronted with my own fear, what example was I willing to set?
So I kept my assessment appointment with Ryan.
During our assessment, Ryan welcomed me to the gym, gave me a tour of the facilities and showed me where various equipment was kept. Friendship Fitness isn’t just a gym, it’s an entire community. In addition to certified trainers, they also have a Registered Dietitian and a Physical Therapist in house.
As Ryan was providing general information on the gym and some basic gym rules, I got distracted by a young teen, who hoisted a rowing machine up on her shoulder and carried it halfway across the gym.
Like a badass.
After our tour, we sat in his office and we went over the basics. We talked about my goals and expectations, previous workout experience, and did an InBody scan. That’s a quick, non-invasive way to test your muscle, fat, and water levels. We talked about my previous injuries (I broke my right ankle) and any concerns I had. Afterward, we discussed the different options they had available at the gym, which included:
Designed to build muscle mass, improve capability and provide knowledge of safe resistance training.
A combo of cardio, resistance training, and yoga designed to help with flexibility, maximize fat loss and boost confidence.
A mix of Olympic style weight lifting, gymnastics and classic cardio.
A great way to build coordination, balance and strength.
Designed for kids ages 3-16 – this programing covers fitness classes, nutrition education, leadership development and fun activities.
After discussing my goals, Ryan personalized my game plan and came up with a program that incorporated some 1×1 training to learn proper form and basic exercises, nutritional coaching with Andy, their Registered Dietitian, and then starting out with their ThriveFit classes.
My first 1×1 with Ryan was eye-opening, in the sense that I didn’t even know how little I knew about working out until we started.
For example, even though I’d previously done countless squats, I wasn’t actually doing them correctly.
Ok, that’s a lie.
I hadn’t previously done countless squats, but my point is, I had squatted before, and I had squatted incorrectly.
My favorite part of my 1×1 sessions with Ryan were how he never made me feel like I didn’t belong because of my complete and utter lack of working out experience. He was so excited when I did an exercise correctly that I couldn’t help but get a little excited myself.
Like, heck yea, look at me, squatting. Like a badass.
He also had the ability to know the level of weight my body could handle even when I was doubting myself. Just a plain barbell felt heavier than anything I had ever lifted in a gym, and then he had me add weight to it. I don’t know if he saw my self doubt, but his confidence in my abilities was inspiring.
I lifted more weight than I thought possible. And it felt good.
After each session, he’d follow up with an email and mention what he observed about the way my body moved (like, my crazy tight hips) and also sent videos of the proper form of all the exercises we covered. While I was feeling more confident in the moves and my ability to do them correctly and safely, I was still terrified every time I walked into the gym. Why? Because I continued to tell myself I didn’t belong.
It’s not easy stepping out of your comfort zone, and the walk from my car to the front door of the gym was hard. But every time I finished a session, I left feeling in awe of what I had done and grateful I was doing this.
Have you ever worked out and regretted that decision? Me neither.
And I was learning so much every day. Like the time Ryan asked me to “clean my kettle bells” and my dumb ass looked around for a wipe.
You guys. Omg, you guys!
Apparently, “cleaning your kettle balls” refers to a specific way of lifting them up. I gotta be honest, before I joined Friendship Fitness, I didn’t even know there were different ways of lifting up weight.
I just thought you lifted it. But now I know.
The other thing I was worried about was meeting Andy, their in-house RD. Because let’s be honest, I already “track” my food (also known as Instagram) and it’s pretty damn epic. My hobbies include meeting up with my ice-cream dealer, eating, cooking, photographing food, talking about food, and traveling to far away places to eat exotic food.
Andy was great.
(Side note, if you’d like to speak to a Registered Dietitian, but you’re not a member of the gym, you can still schedule an appointment with him.)
One of the first things he said was a quote out of one of my favorite books by James Clear (who’s also a Columbus local). His next question caught me off guard.
“Would you say that you eat reasonably healthy?”
I answered honestly that I didn’t actually know what “healthy eating” looked like. Is it avoiding sugar and carbs and going heavy on the fats and protein? Eating a strict vegan diet and cutting out as much fat as possible? Is it eating mostly whole grains and beans and small amounts of fish? Is it eating large amounts of grass fed beef and stirring organic butter into my coffee?
I honestly can’t keep track of what’s considered “healthy” any more. Can you?
Because we love to enjoy ourselves when we go out to eat, we often eat mostly vegetable based meals at home. We always include greens, usually in the form of a salad, and almost never drink alcohol at home. I knew this wasn’t totally cancelling out my dining out fun, but I had hoped it was at least balancing it out.
I was worried that he was going to tell me that I really shouldn’t be going out to eat. That I should totally give up carbs and sugar and wine and instead eat celery sticks and poached egg whites daily.
He gave me some great ideas on further balancing my meals with healthier swaps, and gave me a couple of small changes to try. I left my meeting with him with a simple action plan, and I was so grateful for the balanced and reasonable approach to nutrition.
He also sent a follow up email with helpful resources!
I took my first ThriveFit class on a Thursday. I got there early, ready to grab the coach a few minutes before the class started so that I could tell her that I was new to working out, had previously broken my ankle, and would love as many modified options as possible.
I checked in for the class and asked the coach at the front desk if there was anything else I needed to do before class. It’s funny – I’m confident in other areas of my life, and do relatively “scary” things like getting up in front of 1,000 people to teach about making travel more affordable, or walking into a commercial kitchen and teaching about knife skills, or even taking a toddler on a trip all over Europe.
But taking a new fitness class? I’m a bundle of nerves, super awkward, highly neurotic and anxious. As more people arrived, I realized that the class was full of people of all ages and fitness levels. And despite being the new kid in class, everyone welcomed me and started conversations, and even gave me some tips for my first class.
I was starting to feel more comfortable in my surroundings, but I was still going over and over in my head all the things I thought I’d need to tell the coach and feeling anxious.
But then I met Maria.
See…the coaches and even the RD all work together. Ryan had already told her about my injury, my tight hip, and my experience (or lack thereof).
I wasn’t walking into a situation like so many others I’ve experienced – where each coach teaches a different class, and you have to advocate for your needs because no one communicates. I didn’t have to try to figure out what my limits were, because Ryan had spent time figuring out the way that my body moved, and had informed her about it.
And my ThriveFit class was really fun!
It was challenging, but also exhilarating. And I didn’t feel awkward or dumb. In part, I think it’s because Maria ran her class differently than most of the trainers I’ve worked with.
There’s a trend in fitness classes to always start with the hardest way to do an exercise, and then “modify” it to make it easier. And for a new-to-working-out person, it often feels like the hardest way to do it, is the right way to do it, and it makes you feel awful when you can’t.
Maria had a different approach. She showed us an exercise, and then a few modifications to make it harder. Same thing, but what a shift in mindset when you find yourself able to do the “next level up.” I was able to modify up on a few things and it made me feel really good about my abilities.
If you are a coach – think about the way you talk about modifications. It really does make a difference for us highly neurotic types.
I’m really excited to see where this new path takes me, and I can tell you that after my first class with Maria, I’m already addicted to the way she makes me feel.
If you’ve made it this far – and you’re terrified of trying something new, I hope you’ll do it anyway. It won’t be easy. It won’t be comfortable. But I promise you, it’ll be worth it.
*Disclosure: Friendship Fitness sponsored this post, but thoughts and opinions are my own.