Fitness

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Another thing I love is fitness! I love being active and seeing what my body is capable of doing. I started pursuing fitness when I was in college. My friends and I used to go walking on campus, and one day a friend introduced us to the weight room after she took a fitness course. We only did the machines, not free weights with the guys, but it was a start! Through my 20s I was active as well with walking and a little running. I joined a gym and of course gravitated to the machines with which I was familiar. One day a trainer who was bored introduced me to the free weights section. He said, “Give it 8 weeks and I promise you you’ll see a difference.” He taught me how to use dumbbells, the Smith machine, the leg press, the lat pulldown, etc. True to his promise, I did see results! And for the first time I learned to log my workouts and progress.

Fast forward to my 30s with 2 young kids and a full-time job and no extra funds or time for gym membership. We had a treadmill, a weight bench, a few free weights, and lots of workout DVDs. I always found a way to continue my workouts. But as I reached the latter half of my 30s, I realized that I wasn’t as fit as I wanted to be. So on the weekend of Labor Day, 2006, I decided to become a runner. I started with 5 minutes of walking, 20 minutes of running, and 5 minutes of walking 3 days a week. That’s it, just 3 days. I didn’t lose much weight (just a couple of pounds), but I noticed that my clothes were fitting a bit differently and my jiggles were a bit less jiggly. So after Christmas I increased to 4 days a week. I had no “proper” running gear, so I would go out in the freezing winter wearing a couple of sweatshirts, sweatpants, and my mom’s old sneakers. My husband said, “You should sign up for a 5K in the spring as motivation”. I was terrified. What, do a 5K with all those “serious, real runners”? But I signed up despite the fact that I was terribly intimidated. After I crossed the finish line, I was hooked. The rest is history! I’ve completed many, many 5Ks, some 10Ks, several half-marathons, and 3 full marathons since then. At best, I’m a mid-pack runner, but I truly enjoy it. Yet what I enjoy more is helping others to begin their own journey through running!

A couple of years ago, I won a gift certificate to a local gym that focuses on functional fitness. Basically, the types of workouts we do are very similar to CrossFit, though the gym is not a CrossFit affiliate. I thought I was fit going into that gym. I was a marathoner running 25-35 miles per week. I did workouts with weights once in ahwile. Yet those workouts showed me that I definitely had room for improvement. Unlike most people who start at this gym, I did NOT lose weight — instead I put on about 5-6 lbs of muscle, mostly in my upper body. I no longer have skinny marathoner arms.

Through my gym, I discovered that I LOVE heavy weightlifting. The deadlift is the greatest exercise ever developed! In January, 2013 I started the Wendler 5/3/1 program for strength training. It’s probably meant for guys, but I figure that if guys can do it, I can do it. What I like most about it is that it’s time-efficient. There are 4 major lifts: overhead press, deadlift, bench press, and squat. Additionally, the buildup is gradual. Each cycle consists of 3 weeks of a gradual buildup with one week of recovery. At the beginning of each cycle, you increase lower-body lifts by 10 lbs and upper body lifts by 5 lbs. Simple and efficient.

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