One small step

crossfit-534615_1920It’s amazing how one small decision can lead to so many changes. Five years ago, I made an appointment at the gym near my work. As an introvert and overall quiet person, I was pretty nervous (I share a few introvert tips here that helped me get used to the gym environment). So I listened to their spiel, signed up for a membership, and agreed to pay for three discounted personal training sessions. Unfortunately, unless you buy their expensive training packages, you’re pretty much on your own after that.

It took me six months to figure out what I wanted to do. I tried the circuit training machines. I ran on treadmills and rode exercise bikes. I attended a few group classes and attempted yoga. It was okay but I didn’t love it. Then I started picking up heavy weight. I loved it and finally knew I wanted to get stronger. Within a couple of months of switching my routine over, I started noticing positive changes.

My brother obtained his personal training certification around this time. So he created a workout program based on my strength goals. He coached my form and gave me feedback. He was also able to work around my old injuries and strengthen my weaknesses. With his help, I grew capable of moving a lot more weight.

As I increased in strength, my confidence grew. I wasn’t as timid. I started standing a bit straighter (it’s still a work in progress). I felt more confident in speaking my mind and asserting myself. I became more comfortable with myself and around others.

I was motivated to improve other areas of my life too. I’ve worked on maintaining a schedule so I can get to bed earlier. I’m working on drinking more water. I cook all my meals from scratch and try to choose healthier food options. Most recently I started taking ballroom and latin dance classes. Dance class has helped to boost my confidence even more. And it all began with a single appointment at the gym. Below is one of my favourite quotes on fitness.

Going to the gym isn’t a punishment for what you ate or how much you sit, fitness is a celebration of the fact that you are alive and can still move. Fitness isn’t something you only do at a gym; fitness for life means you either approach your body and mind with respect, or you disrespect the gift of your own life and health and then everything that defines a healthy human being, such as the ability to pick up a grandchild or to walk on the beach, is taken away from you.

Getting in shape isn’t something you only do for a wedding or for the newly divorced, fitness is a personal choice where you decide to live your life at the highest level you can possibly achieve, because if you are fit and healthy, then anything in life seems possible. The mindset for fitness isn’t about being perfect or trying to recapture who you were, “back in the day,” but rather becoming the best you can be today.

There is no perfect you, but there is a you within that can overflow with happiness, vibrant health and crazy energy, because you now understand you don’t do fitness, you are fitness. Mindset is everything in the pursuit of personal health, but you have to enter the arena with the understanding that fitness isn’t another hobby you only do when you have time or to relax; fitness is the very essence of how you live 24 hours a day, how you think and who you are.

-Thomas Plummer

What activities do you enjoy?

Finding community

dance-430554_1920.jpgI’ve been asked a few questions recently. How do you stay motivated to keep blogging? How are you still taking dance classes? How do you work out consistently? And while there are many reasons why, the one overarching reason is community.

The reason I’m still attending dance classes is because of the people. Everyone is welcoming and inclusive. The instructor is fantastic. He’s very patient and has a great sense of humour. And while people tend to rotate in and out of the beginner class, there are a few regulars I see each class. It’s been fun to connect with them on a weekly basis and chat about dance and life. The studio also offers dance socials each weekend, and though I’ve yet to attend one, I’m planning on it eventually. Getting to spend time with people who like to dance gives me both the mental and physical contact I need.

But being part of a community doesn’t even need to happen in person. I’ve received so much kindness and support from the blogging community here. There are people I may never meet in person but still consider them good friends. Thank you so much for all the likes, comments, and follows. The only reason I’m still writing is because of all the positive feedback. It encourages me to keep going. I’ve been feeling a bit of writer’s block lately but I’m going to try to post more.

People are also surprised I’ve managed to work out for as long as I have (nearly 5 years). I don’t have a workout partner. But I don’t think you need one to be successful. It just means you need to be disciplined. But I will chat with my brother and fitness-minded friends. We’ll swap PRs, workout routines, and fitness goals. We get to connect in a shared passion and that helps to keep things fresh and exciting.

Having consistent contact with positive people is so important. When I first moved to a new city, I knew a few people but didn’t have many connections. I was living on my own, which was fantastic (and I still prefer it). But I would often feel isolated. I started blogging and working out and it helped. More recently I started dance lessons. These different avenues gave me the social connection I was missing. Community is the family and friends you discover and choose for yourself.

What communities are you a part of?

An introvert’s secret weapon at the gym

Workout buddiesHow does an introvert survive working out at the gym? They have have a secret weapon: music. What better way to block out the background noise, chatter, grunting, and shouting, than by playing your favourite songs? I never leave home without my ipod. It’s an ancient thing, hearkening back to my high school days, but it works well and I’ve never had a reason to replace it. Whether I’m lifting weights or going for a run, I always bring my ipod with me.

As you might expect, I have a gym-specific playlist filled with upbeat, catchy songs. My musical taste is extremely varied and changes on a constant basis. I thought I’d share a small taste of the music I listen to during a workout. If you click on the song title, it’ll take you to a youtube version, for those who may be interested 🙂

Wake Me Up & Hey Brother

Ayumi Hamasaki (jpop)
Fairyland & Evolution

BIGBANG (kpop)
Fantastic Baby

F(x) (kpop)
Red Light & Electric Shock

Invincible & One Life

Lindsay Stirling
Phantom of the Opera cover

Marianas Trench
No Place like Home & This Means War

Piano Guys
Mission Impossible, Beethoven’s 5 Secrets, Code Name Vivaldi & Fight Song

Super Junior (kpop)
Sorry Sorry & Opera

Eye of the Tiger

Two Steps from Hell (super epic music)
Dragon Rider & Heart of Courage

What do you listen to when you exercise?

Image credit: “Workout Pals” by Nathan Rupert is licensed under CC by 2.0

Working out

RunningI’ve tried working out at home, but I have a hard time motivating and pushing myself to the limit when I do. So about a year ago, I went out and got a gym membership. To try to build good habits and workout regularly, I’ll often go straight from work.

I’ve tried the yoga classes, and love them. There’s something about stretching and relaxing in the semi-darkness of the room, listening to the instructor guide you through the movements, that really relaxes your. I’ve thought about trying other classes, but haven’t done so yet.

Its mostly because by the time I’m done work, I’m pretty drained. I have to force myself to drive to the gym to workout and the amount of social interaction I want at that point is minimal. The last few times I’ve gone, my workouts have coincided with the cycling class. When I do my cardio, the cycling class is behind me, behind a half-wall, but you can still hear what’s going on. Yesterday, there was blaring music, pumping out the beats to help push the cyclists to their limits. The trainer was constantly making noise, shouting, yelling out instructions and encouragement, and hollering. It tired me out just listening to it. I couldn’t imagine pushing my body to the limit, while at the same time being barraged by that amount of noise and chaos.

So I’ll stick to my quiet non-group workouts for now. But if I have the energy, I might consider trying the Zumba class, or even the cycling class.

What kinds of workouts do you do? Do you enjoy the class environment, or do you prefer to workout alone?

Image credit: “She Runs and Shine” by jacsonquerubin is licensed under CC by 2.0