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I recently started my second season of TRX training.  Not exactly ground breaking news – until you consider the fact that two weeks into the last season of TRX, I had decided that there had never been anything on this Earth that I hated more than TRX (ok – it still isn’t ground breaking news, but maybe it is at least slightly more interesting?).

I started January really excited about TRX and was really looking forward to the classes.  But to my surprise, I really struggled with the first couple of classes.  The workouts were so much harder than I expected (which I know is a good thing – but it can be hard to remember that when you are rolling around like a fish out of water trying to get your heels into the TRX straps).  And despite the fact that I had an awesome trainer helping me through the class (thanks Tracy!), I felt demoralized after the first few classes.

But I decided that TRX was something I really wanted to do and I made myself stick with it.  I formulated a strategy to get myself through those first couple of weeks and I’m really proud that it worked.  Now, I still have a long way to go before I master the TRX (I love the TRX motto of “Make Your Body Your Machine”!) – but I happily signed up for a second season and now when I’m done with a TRX class I leave the gym inspired (well – inspired, sweaty and tired).

I’m sure someday I’ll face a new fitness challenge (like when I finally work up the courage to take boxing!) and I’ll end up feeling like I did after those first few TRX classes.  So I decided I should document my strategy – and I thought I’d share it with you.

  1. Do not pay attention to or compare yourself to anyone else in the class.  Every person is at a different fitness level and has different strengths and weaknesses.
  2. Remind yourself that no one else in the class is paying attention to or judging you – and if they are, then they aren’t working hard enough (so they don’t count!)
  3. Once you get over any hang-ups you have about how you are faring in comparison to the rest of the class (or am I the only one that neurotic?), remind yourself that you are most likely in the company of some awesome women (shout out to Tracy’s TRX team!).  Support them and let them support you.
  4. Talk to your trainer/instructor and don’t be afraid to ask for (and use!) modifications.  I probably should have put this one first.  Tracy helped me few modifications I could make when I was having trouble with certain exercises.  Once I used them (a got over feeling weak for needing them), things became much less frustrating.   We have amazing trainers – we shouldn’t forget to use them (even if I do occasionally roll my eyes at them when they ask me to do burpies…).
  5. Set a date for yourself and commit to continuing with the workout (no matter how much you think you hate it) until that date and then give yourself permission to never do it again if you get to that date and still hate it.
  6. When all else fails, fake it until you make it…

It’s true what they say about riding a bike. It just comes back to you, no matter how much time has passed. Within 3 minutes of my first spin class in over a year, my inner smile returned, my legs found their rhythm and every cell, muscle, thought, quickly remembered how important it was for me to be there.   As always, I enjoyed the dimmed lights, the loud music and the sense of being in a group while focusing inward. There is no competition, no comparison – it’s just a small room packed with individuals sharing an experience. Kind of how I always view the Boston Marathon, actually. No threat.

I was actually able to go to two spin classes this week and already feel like a new person.   I used to love starting my Fridays with Emily M at the Chestnut Hill club.  Unfortunately, with all of the changes in my home life, I have not been able to make that ticketed 9:15 class.  And now, I am thrilled to find that she has added a 10:15 to the roster.  That I should be able to enjoy on a regular basis.  Emily has great music, fun rides and a natural way of leading the class with just the right amount of conversation.   Her calm nature will surely ground you and help you to refocus on your own well-being.  If ever you are looking for a great way to start your weekend a bit early, try out one of her classes.

For a long time, I spied on the spinners from afar. From the safety of the treadmill and the elliptical machines, I watched the ladies ride in unison and then emerge from the room soaked in sweat and accomplishment. They wore power on their relieved and satisfied faces. Oh, how I envied them. And yet I felt trapped by my not-so-daring personality type and stayed put on the machines that I knew I could do well and without embarrassment or risk of “failure”.  Then, one morning I felt compelled to check out the class schedule and saw an Intro to Spin segment listed. Even though I hadn’t ridden a bike in a decade or more, I played with the idea of trying it and headed to the club.

Thank God I did, because it was love at first ride. On those stationary bikes, I soared into my own soul.  A few times a week on that seat, I met my 47 year old, bike-riding brother who had died suddenly of a heart attack. He met me there and filled my head and heart with humorous, healing and inspirational chatter. My dad then passed away and began piping in with a few lines and special appearances. And then I met and had delightful conversation with the baby boy who had been conceived. I rode with and spoke to him until a week before his birth. Before long, my rides were filled with the calls from my heart to allow my marriage to die a graceful death. And this week, my mind allowed visions of a new life to surface. The right class, the right teacher and the right space can support you in untold ways; it’s simply a matter of finding your place at the club and allowing your body and heart to take the lead.

As I hovered outside the door of the spin class on that Sunday morning so long ago, trying to gain the courage to enter the room, a stranger stopped to encourage me. As she swung the door open with a smile, she assured me that I could be in control of my own ride, that I could sit by the door and leave if I wanted to, and that she was fairly sure that I would be hooked by the end of the hour. She also clarified that the women who were riding, in full gear and full stride, were not there for the intro class, but had indeed chosen to ride through one class and into the next as a way to winter train for the PanMass Challenge. Suddenly, it didn’t feel so intimidating. I thought that she was the teacher and followed her to a bike on the right-hand margin of the room. She promptly introduced me to the teacher, David, and asked him to help me set up my bike as she headed to her own in the far corner of the room. She was right, by the hour’s end, I was hooked and ever so grateful to her. I don’t remember her name, but would recognize her anywhere, in or out of context.   After a while, I even had my own “gear” and “stride”.

And so, my advice to you is that if you want to try a new class or experience at the club, just go for it and leave all of your self-limiting labels at the door. It may just change your life. And, if you ever see anyone lurking on the borders of a class that you enjoy, please take her hand, guide her over the threshold and welcome her into your circle. It may just change her life.

I work best under pressure. It seems like unless there’s some kind of goal, I kind of just take it easy – that’s why I always feel so motivated when I’m training for a race. There’s a real deadline at stake: if you don’t train to go the distance by race date, well, you might not finish. And that really gets me going! Lately, I haven’t had a goal, and I’ve been kind of lax in my workouts. I’ll think, “well, just relax tonight, you can go tomorrow.” That’s such a pitfall.So, I needed to set myself at competition against myself. I really needed some reason to push and go hard.

I have decided to take the leap (literally, perhaps) into Healthworks’ Bootcamp Challenge. For those of you who don’t know what that means, Healthworks is offering a challenge. You pay $100 and can go to as many bootcamp sessions as you want between June 7 and July 4, and the person who looses the largest percentage of body fat wins some awesome prizes. I’ll admit, the prizes look awesome, but I am just excited for an opportunity to jump start my workouts and get off this plateau.

I went to my first ever bootcamp today, and Sunny pretty much kicked me in the butt. I workout regularly (I mean, sure, lately I’ve been lax, like I said – but I still go 4 times a week or so), but this was unlike any workout I’ve had in recent memory. I worked so hard that sweat was dripping off my nose, arms, and even knees. Class was an hour long and involved a lot of exercises that I have never attempted, or even seen before. It was awesome! I really can’t do pushups, and I’ve set an additional personal goal for myself, that by the end of this month of intensive training I’ll be able to do full out pushups. I’m also psyched to practice my side planks.

I’ve got a bit of a cold, and at one point I felt kind of dizzy and had to back off and drink some water. Today was just the first day, though, and gave me a great feel for what this is going to be like. Wish me luck!

Eating salad for lunch usually makes me feel good.  I feel healthy chomping on fresh veggies.  But not lately.  My discontent has nothing to do with my love for salad or a wish to eat something else for lunch.  It has everything to do with what others are eating.  What can you do when you see your friends making unhealthy choices?  Not much, I’ve realized – unless of course you want to cause a whole mess of hurt feelings and awkwardness.

I like to set a good example.  I am a first-born, so I have tried to be a role model to my younger sisters and brother.  I spent six years as a teacher who was constantly aware of the impression I made on my high school students.  And I strive as an instructor to show the women in my classes that I have a healthy perspective on food and exercise.  However, as a friend, my attempts to steer lunch companions away from fat and cholesterol have failed miserably.

The concern I harbor for the health of one friend in particular is something I may just have to let go of, or I will not be able to meet her for lunch or dinner dates in the future.  Am I crazy for not wanting to watch her eat a mayonnaise-laden sandwich and brownie for lunch when I know she is damaging to her health?  Recently this seems a constant struggle.  Yesterday, I felt like a snob eating salad at a lunch table where everyone else was eating pasta or sandwiches with French fries.  I enjoyed my salad much less simply because I was depressed at what was happening around the rest of the table.

I welcome advice on this topic, as I really do not know what to do.  I care about my friend.  I worry about her.  As a fitness instructor and her friend, I truly want to help her.  I want to see her happy and healthy with more energy.  But what can I do if she hasn’t asked for my help?

-Sarah

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