Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Blog Post No. 19 -- Looking Fit

I've told you all before how I lost 70 pounds within the past year, and that the basis for launching this blog was to celebrate the discovery of all the vintage clothes I found in my basement from long ago which now fit the new, trimmer me.  What I haven't shared with you is how much my journey to fitness has been enhanced by the compassionate group-fitness instructors at my local health club.

I joined Merritt Athletic Club in the Baltimore area in 2008 ( A personal trainer designed a workout routine for me and I went pretty regularly for a few months and then stopped going.  I just wasn't motivated to go on my own.  I continued to pay dues to the gym but I wasn't getting anything for my money except a growing sense of frustration as my hard-earned cash slipped away.  I tried to quit the gym when my contract was up in 2010, and that's when the wonderful manager, Pat Fleischer, encouraged me to re-up for another two years.  Pat threw in incentives, like a lowered price and sessions with a masseuse and a personal trainer.  I renewed my membership, but still I wasn't motivated to go on my own.  

Throughout this time I looked at the group fitness classes taking place in a side room with longing, but was too intimidated to try one.  Then, crippled by chronic pain in the fall of 2010 after a comprehensive dental procedure in which the alignment of my entire jaw was shifted, I sought out the yoga class as a way to manage my discomfort.  It turned out that I wasn't intimidated by group fitness classes.  I loved yoga, and I was impressed by the yoga instructor, Charlie Beall, who plays a flute during meditation at the end of each session.

At the same time, I began to diet, and as I started to lose weight and gain more self esteem, I started adding more group fitness classes to my weekly routine. Body Pump, which is lifting weights to music, then Body Flow, which is like Tai Chi, then Body Step.  I love them all, and I adore my instructors. In fact, I want to give them a big shout-out, for they have made a real and lasting difference in my life: Lauren Weingard teaches my Body Step class and is an elementary school teacher by day.  Tara Chapman is my Body Flow Instructor. She has the most soothing voice ever.  Anthony Knox and Robert Biffle share Body Pump instruction and both are marvelous motivators and all-around nice guys.  And just in the past four weeks I've started taking a Zumba class, led by Kelli Bigelow, who I really like, even though I can't begin to shake my middle the way she does!

In April, Merritt Athletic Club asked me to do a promotion, and in June, after I had achieved my weight loss goal, Merritt asked me to do a testimonial.  I was happy to comply and thrilled to have an opportunity to provide inspiration to others on similar weight-loss journeys.  Both ads appear below.

Today I was interviewed for an article in the December issue of Club Solutions, a trade magazine for the fitness industry, circulated to over 24,000 health clubs around the United States.  I told the reporter how wonderful my gym instructors are, and provided her with the photos you see at the top for her article.

As for my gym clothes, wouldn't you know that even some of them are vintage?  The black Under Armour yoga pants were purchased at my gym barely six months ago, and I bought the reverse balance shoes, by AM-Motion for Avia, about a year ago at Payless Shoe Source.  But the green athletic top is something I used to wear when I jogged around Lake Merritt on my lunch hour way back in 1988, when I worked at my very first law firm in Oakland, California.  The scrunchy green socks are also from that era.

I wouldn't be in the shape I'm in today if it were not for the marvelous group-fitness instructors at my gym, motivating me and helping me to feel included and capable.  Just a year ago I couldn't fit that green top over my torso. My, how my appearance -- and my life -- have changed!

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