One of my main goals right now is to get in the best shape of my life. I want to eat cleaner, and train stronger. I can’t say that I don’t have the time, right? The way I look at it is that every day I get older, and right now I’m fortunate enough to have full mobility and good health. Should be easy? Not so much. I also suffer from major gym-phobia: self conscious about my weight, my appearance, and my skill, especially when I don’t know anyone. It’s distracting (hello really fit men!), and intimidating (hello really fit men!). I thought a class might be the motivation I need.
It was a cold March morning when I signed up for Sweat Fitness. I tried a spin class, but the instructor turned the music up so loud that she had to yell over it, then she turned the music louder…next a yoga class where the instructor made fun of people and swore (namaste?)… then a barre class where the instructor seemed so uninterested in her own class… meh, I forget. This wasn’t the motivational push I needed. Okay, one more class: Definitions. It’s Wednesday mornings at 10am, defined as “one hour of total body sculpt”. Why not?
Class 1, 9:59am: I walk in one minute before class, and see… a lot of women. All women. I’m okay with it, but I’m wondering if I’m the target market. I scan the room and see that everyone has about 27 pieces of equipment. The class looks at me and I swear I hear the instructor ask “is that Bradley Cooper?” (months later, she confirmed that she did say that). Nope, just some clumsy Canadian. I stand at the door, and giggle a Mike Plumton Nervous Laugh, as I look for a small space on the floor for me to disappear in. My savior named Anne Marie makes me a space (right in the center of the room!), and helps me get my equipment together. Class starts so I clear my head, and decide to see what happens.
So this workout is the definition of HARD. Arms, legs, chest, back, legs, core, legs… I feel incredibly challenged, and when I stop worrying about everyone else, I have a good time. I decide to give it another chance.
Class 2, 9:42am: My second week, I’m early/the first one there. I find a spot at the back and quietly start collecting my arsenal of equipment. I fake-stretch, and survey the room as people come in. I notice a high amount of return customers from last time. I (eavesdrop and) can overhear them chatting like old friends… about their kids, their weekends, and the beach. Donna Storm, the Instructor, comes in and greets most by name. Donna looks at me and says “Michael is here, we can start the class!” I giggle, a little less nervous, yet still unsure of my place. 64 minutes later, my body is crushed… and I’m still motivated. I’m liking this workout, so I decide that I will come back again, and again.
As the weeks pass, I recognize a huge factor to my Definitions dedication is Donna. Her class has been pushing me in new, and challenging ways. When she yells (“These last 15 are the ones that count!”), I push myself for me, and because I believe that she believes in all of us. Her energy is authentic, and her cheering is inspiring. Physically, it’s a great workout. Mentally, her energy and cheering kick my optimism into high gear in the class, and thankfully lingers long after.
Let me share some examples of what I mean:
1. “It’s all in your mind. Don’t give up. Take a break but come back in.”
Me in Class: Ugh, those 20 leg lifts… Please…
Me outside of Class: Exactly what she said. It’s okay to take a break, but come. back. in.
2. “Where is your core at?!”
Me in Class: I’ve been looking for it for years! Is it here?!
Me outside of Class: What is my core? What will help me stand tall when I feel bent and broken. My self awareness, my sense of adventure, my vulnerability, and my head full of optimism.
3 “Let’s make this time count! 5, love it. 4, I love it. 3, I love it! When you think you can’t do anymore- that’s when it counts”
Me in Class: Just get to 1 already!!!!!!
Me outside of Class: Try every single second: make it count, and find that gratitude.
I catch Donna after class to tell her how great she is. She pauses, and responds with how much she admires me for coming week to week. Donna: my Fitness Instructor, and as a bonus, my Life Coach.
So fast forward to Class 20: Today, it’s another Wednesday. I’ve been going almost every week now. My goal still is to get through class without needing a break… maybe next week. When I first started, I called this class my Middle Aged Women Class, not because I had an issue with being the only guy (I’m gay after all 😉 ), but because I didn’t feel connected. Today, I’ve become part of the group, talking about pets and family, and even making dates to connect outside of class. More so, we share a sweaty messy workout every Wednesday morning. I realize that this class is my first real feeling of community here in Philly, and for that I am grateful. It’s feels grounding, unknown, and exciting all at once. And the physical activity does wonders for my mental wellbeing. So bring it on ladies- see you next week! Oh, and Donna: maybe play some Britney next week?
Song of the Day: Womanizer (Ms Britney Spears)
If you’re in Philly, do yourself a favor and check out one of Donna’s classes. If you come to visit, join me Wednesdays at 10am! What pushes you to get to the gym, or to be active, especially on those days when you’re not quite sure what to do? Who is your coach? Comment below!