My Fitness Journey
I love working out now, but it’s taken me awhile to figure out what type of workout I actually like. I was inspired to write this post by my friend, Lauren, of Fashion and Fernweh, who wrote about her own workout journey and training for a half marathon. Her post is very motivating, I encourage you to read it if you are starting out on your own fitness journey.
I will start this story out by saying that I was never really an active child growing up. I didn’t like playing sports and never went to the gym in high school. I associated working out with losing weight growing up, so I assumed it didn't apply to me since I was always skinny. I've since learned that working out should not be about losing weight, but rather making you feel good and being healthy. My Freshman year of college I remember one of my roommates would go to the gym every day and I thought that was crazy. I would go to the gym occasionally but I never got into a schedule.
My Sophomore year of college I was gaining more weight because I started drinking more, so I tried to go to the gym a bit more but never really knew what I was doing. The health and wellness chair of my sorority organized a sisterhood Soul Cycle ride, where we had a section of the class specifically reserved. I was so excited but also really nervous, because like I said, I didn’t consider myself athletic at all, and I had never tried indoor cycling. The class was so fun! I couldn’t believe we were in there for 45 minutes, I felt like it flew by! I liked it so much, I convinced one of my friends outside of my sorority to start going with me. We would try to go to a class maybe every two weeks or so. We had fun going to different studios and becoming familiar with different instructors.
The first half of my Junior year, I was abroad in Italy, and I was way too overwhelmed being in a new country to even think about working out. Luckily Rome is very walkable, so I did end up losing some of the weight I had gained sophomore year. When I returned to America, my friend and I went back to Soul Cycle a little more regularly and I also started to dabble in the workout classes offered by my school’s gym. I would do yoga classes and occasionally attend a Zumba class. I also started swimming at my school’s pool once a week (and by swimming, I mean do a lap or two with a friend and then shred water and gossip until we got too cold). I still wasn’t super serious about my workouts at this point.
It wasn’t until my senior year of college that I really got into a regimented workout schedule that I was excited about. Before the school year started, I treated myself to a deep tissue massage performed by a clinically trained masseuse. Not only did he work out a lot of my knots, but he also evaluated the weak spots in my body and suggested ways that I might improve my strength. He noticed that my upper back was curved and my posture was poor. He was also able to detect that I was probably having knee pain because my wide hips push my knee caps slightly off center. He suggested that I take up pilates because it would help strengthen my back and core, while not being too hard on my knees.
I took that suggestion with me as I entered my final year at college and started going to the only pilates class my university’s gym offered. It was a 6:45 am Thursday class. It was BRUTAL! Not only was the wake up call way too early, but the class was so tiny because no college student wants to get up that early to work out! I was nervous it would be awkward and too hard, but this class ended up being the highlight of my senior year. I started going with my sorority Glittle, which was nice because we could call each other to make sure we were up, and then afterwards we would treat ourselves to bagels on campus before the lines got too long (this was before I was diagnosed with Celiac). I also began to love getting such an early start to the day. It was nice to be up before everyone else and get some work done before classes or make a big breakfast.
My Love Of Pilates
The other great thing about starting to do pilates was that I was actually seeing changes in my body. Just going to the class once a week for four months, I began to see abs form! The change in my body inspired me to want to get even more active. Around the same time, I also began watching Gretchen Geraghty on YouTube, and she talked so much about working out that it made me want to work out more and live a healthier lifestyle.
I get bored doing the same thing every day, which is why only going to the gym never really stuck with me as my main form of exercise. I realized if I did something different each day, especially if they were things I liked, I would look forward to working out. I think my workout schedule the first semester of senior year looked like this:
Mondays- cardio at the gym
Tuesday - OFF
Wednesday - Swimming
Thursday - Pilates
Friday - OFF
Saturday - Soul Cycle or conditioning at the gym
Sunday - OFF
The second half of senior year they offered TWO pilates classes, so I upped my pilates game.
I also started a yoga class on campus that met every week for an hour. My workout schedule now looked like this:
Monday - cardio at the gym
Tuesday - pilates
Wednesday - yoga
Thursday - pilates
Friday - OFF
Saturday - Soul Cycle or conditioning
Sunday - OFF
When I look back on this, that’s a lot! No wonder I was at my peak physical shape back then. But it was also so fun! I liked working out so much, it made me feel healthy! I like doing a variety of workouts to hold my attention and keep me excited.
Maintaining My Workout Routine In Boston
When I moved to Boston, I knew I wanted to get back to the workout schedule I had my senior year of college, or at least as close as I could. This proved to be more difficult than I thought. I had trouble finding a gym that met all of my needs, so instead I focused on finding a pilates studio. Thankfully I found THE BEST pilates studio, Breathe, and it has brought me so much happiness and such a wonderful community. And during the pandemic they have been AMAZING! They closed their studio at the beginning of March due to COVID-19, and immediately began doing classes virtually over Facebook Live, FREE OF COST. Now that things have opened up more in Massachusetts, they offer outdoor classes and a few classes back in the studio (with a much smaller class size). The owner, Shelley, is so nice and my favorite instructor, and she just had an adorable baby and seeing her family virtually on Facebook makes me so happy! I can not speak more highly of them! I never knew that this studio would bring me this much happiness or pull me through this pandemic as much as it has.
ANYWAY- sorry for the Breathe rant, I just love their studio so much. Back to my fitness journey! I began taking classes at Breathe three times a week, sometimes more and sometimes less depending on the week. I found that three times a week was enough to make me feel like I had worked hard that week, but also gave my body enough time to rest (because these pilates classes are more intense than the classes I would take in college).
Something this summer compelled me to start running, which is weird because usually running makes me feel really sick. But if there's anything I've learned in life, it's to listen to your body! I lived near a running track in Boston, so I started going for mile runs once a week. It’s been really interesting to learn how to pace myself and watch as I shed time off my mile.
Since I have moved back home with my family in the DMV, my workout schedule is what has been keeping me grounded. My current workout schedule looks like this:
Monday - Sun Salutations on Facebook with Breathe (this is a quick yoga flow) (they archive all their classes so you can do a class whenever!)
Tuesday - Pilates (Fb Live with Breathe)
Wednesday - Sun Salutations
Thursday - Running (or lately I have been alternating with hiking)
Friday - Sun Salutations
Saturday - Conditioning at outdoor gym
Sunday - OFF
I missed actually going to the gym and using machines! One of the first days I was back home, I went for a walk around my neighborhood and noticed that they put an entire outdoor gym in this one secluded section. It’s so cool! The machines look like playground equipment, and each machine uses your own body weight. Since they are outside, I feel better about using this equipment because the sun (most likely) kills any germs on the machines, and I’m not sweating near anyone in an inclosed space. I’ve started using those machines once a week since I still don’t feel safe going into a gym, and I really like them!
A few takeaways…aka TL;DR
1. Take time to find what type of workout works best for you. Do you only want to run? Do you need to do a new type of exercise every day? Try a bunch of different exercises and see what feels good for your body.
2. You don’t have to be stereotypically ‘athletic’ to enjoy working out. I’ve noticed that many girls shy away from working out because they don’t consider themselves to be “athletic.” I know I felt that way! All you have to do to exercise is move your body, it doesn’t have to be more than that.
3. I would highly recommend doing different types of workouts. Sometimes I look at my workouts as being “well rounded.” I try to do something for flexibility, strength, and cardio once a week to keep me on my toes/not have my body get too used to one form of exercise.
4. Consistency is key, and once a week is enough. I don’t want to sit here and preach a bunch of health stuff to you, because at the end of the day every body is different and only you really know what your body needs. But I can tell you from my own experience, it wasn’t until I finally was doing something consistently that I saw changes in my body and physically felt in shape. Even when I was just doing one pilates class a week, I was seeing changes in my body. I feel like that’s something most people can commit to- or at least try!
5. Don’t force yourself. If you really don’t want to work out, don’t work out. I’ve found that I get more out of my workouts when I’m well rested and am excited about them. If my body feels overworked, my form gets sloppy and I don’t get as much out of a workout as I could. Sleep in if you need to, take the month off- I do those things when I need to! You can always regain progress and get back at it when you’re feeling stronger and more capable. Also be patient with yourself and don't get discouraged! It can take time to get into a consistent groove, but I promise it's doable.