I have always worked out for my health. In 1997, I was diagnosed with lupus and as I get older, my bones and joints seem to age at twice the speed. My hip collapsed because of my medication so I walk with a limp. By working out, my body is able to move and function. Then in 2009 I was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension. I walked around with an oxygen tank because my heart and lungs were failing. I work out because I want to be around for my kids. Before the pandemic I worked out 3-4 times a week at my local gym. And then gyms closed.
I bought some equipment to work out at home and started motivating people on my Instagram to join me as we crushed what I thought would be the next few weeks of lockdown. As days turned quickly turned to months, I began to sit on the couch more and worked out less. And like most of us, I overate. Every month I watched the number on the scale go up. Every day there was joint pain and I was always tired. Six months into lockdown I decided to do something about it and searched for a box.
What is a box?
A box is usually a warehouse or an industrial space where athletes (that’s what the members are called) go for group fitness training. It’s unconventional, gritty, and makes you feel like you may have just made a mistake. There’s a coach guiding you through the WOD (workout of the day) and pushing you if you fall behind or if he sees you’re not trying hard enough.
First day in, I cried. My shoulders were frozen in one position and I couldn’t do the simplest stretch. I felt so guilty for letting myself go so far in 6 months. Coach hugged me and assured me that if I kept coming, I’d be able to do a lot more really soon. Well, I didn’t stop. I have gone every week but 1 since October. And that week I stayed home because I had a cold that I didn’t want to spread. I’ve met amazing people who motivate me to keep going. And I’ve gotten much stronger. Here’s what I learned.
All you have to do is start.
I could have stayed on the couch eating my chips and cookies. But I made a choice. I decided I was done feeling uncomfortable. The progress wasn’t going to be instant because good stuff rarely is and I knew it. It was not an easy choice. It involved spending money that I was not making during lockdown and getting up at 5 am to work out before I had to take care of the kids and their at-home learning. If I wanted to take care of myself, I had to make it happen. Thankfully, my husband and I agreed that it would be good for me and I joined. If anyone is wondering if they should start the gym, group fitness training, pilates, or any other workout, I’d say go for it. You won’t get better by doing nothing.
You gain more than you lose.
I noticed after a month that the number on the scale was not going down. On the contrary, it went up. I was working so hard, eating right and waking up so early. And the scale was going up? What? I was frustrated, annoyed, and so confused. Then I asked myself if I should try something else. So I forced myself to think of all the positives.
- I knew that quitting was not an option.
- I gained new friends. My body was much stronger.
- Emotionally, I could handle the day easier.
- Having the kids at home was less stressful because I took some time for me.
- I gained a new routine which meant I got rid of a bad one.
- I focused on my health.
- My joint pain stopped.
- My body firmed up.
- I inspired my friends to do it too.
Group fitness training is hard.
The exercises are not easy. They really do challenge you every day. You’re encouraged to track your progress so you can beat your time, weight, and endurance next time. But that means your goal gets pushed up every week. The weight you used last week will be too light for you this week. The workouts are meant to push you. And it’s hard for your body to adapt because the workouts are never the same. At first, I wasn’t sure I could do it. However, since group fitness training encourages brotherhood, the athletes in my class wouldn’t let me quit. They motivated me every morning. You go to the class with the same group of people usually so you get to know each other.
It has been an enlightening 4 months since I started working out again. I had to relearn all the things I’d learned before. But I’ve had a blast. Some days I don’t want to go but then I remember that it’s the only hour that belongs to me. It’s the hour where I’m not feeding anyone, helping them with homework, doing laundry, or any of the other things on my daily to-do list. This is my self-care. If you’re thinking about it, go take a trial class at a box near you. I think you’ll love it.