I did not grow up athletic, with a strong interest in fitness. I did not graduate high school with a plan to pursue fitness as a major (or minor) part of my life. But at 19 years old, I found barre3 and they sort of found me right back. I’m turning 21 at the end of this summer and by that time I will have been managing barre3 Lakewood Ranch for a year, and I’ll be heading off to instructor training to receive my certification to teach barre3. Really, this story is only just beginning.
I tried barre3 because I was looking for a couple things – I had decided that the next step in improving my poor health was finding some way to increase my activity level from sedentary to mildly active, and I was searching for a community that would help me make friends and feel supported. I was hired after only two barre3 classes, and suddenly, I was immersed in a culture of fitness. I’ll spare you the play-by-play, but I found what I was looking for immediately. I started by taking 2+ classes per/week – I now take 6-9 weekly. I also often sprinkle in online workouts (10-minute increments usually) and other physical activity such as walking, swimming, weight-training at the gym with my husband, and other forms of group fitness (just for fun.)
I auditioned for instructor training a couple weeks ago…and got approved. This was something that I had dreamed of since I started barre3, but saw it as a far-off goal for a different version of myself. Everything moved very quickly and I didn’t have much chance to think about what was happening until the last week.
I’m going to be a fitness instructor. (what.) I am a different version of my prior self.
And then this. Guys…am I in “The Fit Club?”
“The Fit Club” is something I totally made up in my mind. But I know I’m not the only one who’s made this up in their own head. “The Fit Club” is for people who are fit. (Right.) People who are “in shape” and “active.” These people have made exercise a consistent part of their lives and most of them actually love fitness. Some of them involve fitness in their life as a hobby and habit, others make a career out of it. “The Fit Club” was a super mysterious and – to me – unachievable ideal I had in my head involving marathon-runners and tough mudders, pro soccer players, yogis who can contort their bodies in beautiful yet strange shapes, kickboxing addicts who can frighten you with their passion – generally, people who wear sweat as a badge of honor.
Oh yeah – there was one other key trait I placed on all members of “The Fit Club.”
These “humans” were – to me – anything but (human) and they knew it. They showed off their physical prowess, reminding us lesser beings that in paleo times, they could easily have destroyed us. I believed they all judged me the moment I walked into a gym or they saw me wearing some combination of spandex pants and sports bra. I told myself these people were obsessed, vain, selfish, unkind beings who were too worried about their pant size to care about me or anyone else.
I now understand what self-sabotage is. I now know that hateful thoughts breed no good, no growth.
Do I need to address every line of that – what I believed “The Fit Club” to be? I’m not going to, because a blanket statement will cover it:
I was wrong. I was really, really wrong.
It pains me to admit that was who I was and how I thought. But if I’m not the only one to ever think that way – will you listen to me for a minute? Let me tell you – it’s not true. It’s not true at all.
Sure, there are jerks who also enjoy fitness. Yes, there are people who approach fitness as only a means to an end – that end being looking good. But there are also jerks (hello, looking at past me) who hate fitness, who judge those whose lifestyles are different. There are people who spend thousands on looking good and ignore exercise completely. Mean, selfish and unkind people exist in every circle, but so do kind, wonderful and caring humans.
Really, there’s no such thing as “The Fit Club” because it’s not a club at all. There is no code or standard that you must achieve before you can enjoy and embrace fitness. Every body is different and athletes are just as human and just as valuable as sedentary beings and vice versa.
That’s not to say I’m not an advocate for a fit lifestyle, of course. Fitness changed my life and I want to share it with others! But I want you to know that you’re welcome here – in this world of fitness. You’re welcome to come and run on a treadmill for fifteen minutes three days a week or to train for a freaking marathon, or not run at all (looking at myself again) and find a totally different way to be active. You’re welcome to be who you are – to build your life with your dreams and passions at the center, growing every day to be a better version of yourself.
So, welcome. I’m glad to be here. I hope you are too.
In health and light —