Gym Journey

Last week I introduced some new topics here. Thanks for the enthusiasm and excited to shake things up on the blog. To get things rolling, this is how my re-entry into the fitness world came about. It wasn’t pretty but I am sure glad I took that road.

In June 2019, I turned 40. As my big year approached, I drummed up the idea to run a 10k before I turned the big 4-0. In January, I figured I better join a gym to facilitate that undertaking. I knew I had to increase my endurance and strength to run that distance (and not destroy my knees in the process). Lots of my co-workers enjoyed the gym at the hospital across the way from our office so I figured I would give it a shot.

I’ve always benefited from personal training. I like the instruction, but even more I like the accountability. Yes, it is pricey. But I was willing to forgo other little luxuries and invest. It paid off. And I have learned that it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg, especially in these times of COVID. More on that in a bit.

When I joined the gym, I expressed interest in functional fitness and HIIT (high intensity interval training) and got matched with Exercise Physiologist / Tactical Strength and Conditioning Coach Lee Smither. Lee is a veteran of the United States Air Force with years of tactical, strength and conditioning experience. Slightly intimidating. And a little scary. LOL. His workouts are definitely challenging but his approach and demeanor encouraged me to go further than I ever thought I could. Lee is patient in instruction, and a stickler for form – something who knows what being 40 feels like and wants to avoid injury at all costs would appreciate. He is also adept at adjusting workouts and routines according to goals, injuries and ability.

Our hour long training sessions consisted of a lot of body-weight work (jumping jacks, burpees, air squats). He works with cardio equipment tools like the assault bike, rower and SkiErg (a kind of cross-country skiing upright rower). And he isn’t afraid to throw in medicine balls, battling ropes and weighted sandbags. He also is an experienced runner and came in valuable as a race coach. Below is a sample workout from last week that really made me hate him humbled me but was so rewarding at the end:

Cardio and Abs

Warm Up: 1 mile run

5 rounds:

  • One minute of up/downs (kinda like a burpee but not quite)
  • One minute max meters on assault bike
  • One minute max flutter kicks
  • One minute slam balls

Three rounds:

  • One minute plank
  • One lap (100 meters approximately) Farmers carry (carry plate weight in each hand – I used 10 pounds but can go up to 25 for a challenge)

Finish with 100 Russian Twists

Simple but killer. I burned approximately 660 calories.

The punchline of that story: thanks to a lot of hard work and help from Lee and my friend Deena, that 10k turned into a half-marathon. I completed the race in March of 2019 at a “not-totally-embarrassing-time” well ahead of my 40th! And in the process, got hooked on getting stronger and more fit.

*Stay tuned for my next fitness post on why virtual training works for me versus apps like FitOn, Aaptive, Nike and even in-person training. And more about how Lee and I work together now virtually. *

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