– “Finding My Fire” –
Diving back into a fitness routine was full of starts and stops that lasted for some time. I knew I had to try something in order to feel better about my body, but it was hard getting into a groove and finding my direction. I often told myself that I couldn’t find anything that fit into my schedule.
Looking back on that time, it’s clear that I was full of excuses. When people say that they can’t find the time to workout, more often than not it is simply because they don’t want to. I spent hours on end watching TV show after TV show yet I couldn’t find an hour a day to dedicate to my wellness?! I had to stop being lazy, and the first step was admitting that to myself. I started easy by researching what types of studios were in my neighborhood. Only a block away was a very inclusive hot yoga/dance studio that I’d been wanting to try, but always seemed to just walk past. They were offering an incredible deal for unlimited classes over a period of time, so I signed up. I tried 6:30am hot yoga, night yoga classes, belly dancing, and pole dancing. All were super fun, but when my deal ran out so did my enthusiasm. Next up was joining our neighborhood YMCA. Just a ten minute walk from our apartment I figured that my boyfriend Robert and I had to go all the time, right?! Wrong. We did start strong and excited, going a handful of times a week in the early morning and on weekends. Robert enjoyed the elliptical while I ran on the treadmill. We lifted weights together and motivated each other to keep pushing ourselves. This was a great new routine, but only a few months in we relented to “life getting in the way,” and settled back into the mindset that there just wasn’t enough time to workout. Again, my physical identity took the backseat to the comforts of a loving relationship. So now what?
By this point Robert and I had gotten engaged. After lots of time celebrating, enjoying every moment of our engagement and slowly piecing together the wedding details, it was seven months before tying the knot. I found the perfect dress that would have looked great in any size but I knew I wanted to shed some pounds for the big day.
It felt like now or never, so I went back to the drawing board.
I saw an ad for five classes at Exhale and on a whim I decided to give it a shot. It was close to my office and very reasonably priced. I was starting to see a pattern with my workout routine…cheap and convenient equals Amanda will go for it and maybe it will stick. My first barre class was absolutely miserable. Intimidated by the amount of ladies in class I took a spot in the way back. I couldn’t hold a plank for longer than 10 seconds and I lost my breath with every movement. My legs shook the moment I got into a squat and I hated the way I looked in the mirror. The only saving grace was my instructor, Kelli. She introduced herself to me after class and said “I hope you come back. It gets easier I promise.” I felt like she had such a genuine interest in seeing me come back that I returned, and continued to return until I had finished my five class package. At the start of every class Kelli would say hello and check in with me, creating a personal connection between instructor and student that I would come to realize was exactly what I needed to feel that I belonged. I finally started to feel more confident in my own strength again and was proud of my commitment. With every class I became more confident in my body, and with the support and positive reinforcement from a good instructor I was finally beginning to believe in myself.
Having an instructor that took an interest made me accountable for showing up. Making excuses became harder. With Kelli’s help I began to feel a part of the fitness community and not like an outsider looking in. It was the sense of community that I knew I had been missing. I knew there had to be more classes and instructors to explore, and finally that fire I had once known had lit within to seek them out.
By Amanda Fink Mandell
This is the third installment in Amanda Fink Mandell’s “We Love Her” series. Love Squad’s “We Love Her” series takes a deep dive into the personal fitness journey of a guest writer, in weekly installments told over the course of several weeks. These narratives will get real and open as they talk about life-changing events and personal obstacles that were somehow overcome through fitness, exercise, and both mental and physical wellness.
If you are interested in contributing a personal story of your own as a part of our “We Love Her” series, please email firstname.lastname@example.org !