It was in March of 2004 that I ever stepped foot into a gym. My passion was born and life has never been the same.
I actually began working out when I was 13. The summer after 7th grade, before 8th. When I first started exercising in 2003, I used my mom's old exercise videos. My mom was a BIG crash dieter. She would buy 10 different exercise tapes, 5 different supplements (MetaboLife with Ephedra anyone?) 19 different outfits - and never stick with anything. Lucky for me, I got all of the hand me downs. I would wear the floral design tank tops with matching knee length spandex shorts and get to work. I would do an exercise tape (a lot of Richard Simmons, Denise Austin, and The Firm. Denise Austin was my favorite because I wanted to look just like her. I thought she was so hot) then go run outside. Running outside pissed me off a lot of times though. I always used my disc-man so I could listen to music. I had to hold it in my hand because I did not have a clip. And when I would run fast, the CD player would always skip.
I religiously did my exercise tapes and running at home. After about 6 months, my mom noticed my dedication and decided she would buy me, my brother, and her gym memberships so we could all workout together. She picked my brother and I up from school every afternoon since she only worked Friday-Sunday as an ER Nurse Supervisor. Our new routine after school everyday would be us three going to the gym. It sounded great to me. My brother was not excited. We joined the gym "Body Fit" in Eden, NC - one town over from where we lived. Body Fit is an extremely tiny gym and it is where my passion first began. Below are pictures the gym, courtesy of their Facebook page:
I loved exercising at home, but the gym brought a brand new level of excitement. It was incredibly stimulating, versatile, fun, and I loved how I felt after. I was instantly hooked. I looked forward to going ever single day after school. My brother and mom only lasted about a month. I begged her to let me keep my membership though. She obliged, but it was hard. The gym was 20 minutes away from our home since it was in the next town over. Thus she would have to drop me off, find something to do for an hour, then pick me back up because going home was a waste of gas and time. However, she did it. On Friday's when I would go to my dad's for the weekend, she would drop me off and dad would pick me up. Dad would take me on the weekends as well. He would drop me off, go home, then come back and pick me up. My parents did that for over a year so I could continue to exercise at that gym.
It felt good to move. It felt good to get out the stress of the day. As I have previously written about before, I was bullied in school a lot. The gym was my savior from it. Instead of turning to alcohol or drugs, which were sadly readily available, I chose music and exercise. It was a liberating feeling to blast my music through my disc-man and sweat out my high school problems.
I was so embarrassed that my parents had to pick me up though. Everyone thought I was so much older than I was, so having my parents drop me off and pick me up was so *uncool*. I could not wait until I was old enough to drive to the gym myself and put my key ring up on wall like everyone else did. Ha!
On my 16th birthday, I was at the DMV 30 minutes before it opened so I could be the first in life to get my license. I passed with flying colors, then I started my first day of my first job; Food Lion. After working, I drove myself to the gym. I felt like such an adult and I proudly laid my keys on the key ring board that was mounted on the wall.
Shortly after my 16th birthday on July 30th, 2005, I switched gyms. I joined a gym that was in the town I lived in - Reidsville, NC. I trained there from 2005 to 2010. I left that gym when I was 20 years old and moved to where I currently live, Charlotte, NC. I made so many friends there and I learned so much. I almost felt like I grew up in that gym. I had many, many mentors there varying from the owners, prior bodybuilder's, powerlifters, and everything in between. That is where I learned to train hard, lift weights, and become dedicated. It makes me want to cry writing about that gym. Everyone there was like my family.
From 2008-2010, I worked at a popular gym chain called "The Rush Fitness Complex". Since it was 45 minutes away from where I lived, I did not always drive there to train on my days off.
When I moved to Charlotte in March of 2010, there was a brand new gym being built beside of my apartment complex; literally right across the parking lot. It was huge, and I could not have been more excited. I felt like I really lucked out being able to have a gym so close and able to walk there a lot of days. LA Fitness (formally known as Urban Active Fitness) opened in September of 2010. I was elated that it was finally opened. I watched it grow from dirt and cement to a huge fitness facility, and I was ready to train. I went there the first day it opened and the rest has been history. I also worked there in 2012 as a second job!
I posted this picture on my Facebook in 2010 before it opened. They held an open house so you could tour the gym, see what it is about, and sign up. I of course went so I could get a first look!
And to this day, nearly 4 years and 1 name change later, I still walk to that very gym! The below picture is from my blog a couple of weeks ago when it was beautiful outside and I walked there.
Exercising is a lifelong hobby and weight loss is an ongoing journey. You are going to have many ups and downs. Sometimes you may get some low that you feel like you can't get back up. Kind of like how I felt all of 2013, but what matters is when you just keep going. I push hard every single day and you can too. Every second is a second to make a good decision and get it right. One healthy choice at a time.