I don’t have a weight loss story to tell you. (Having been an overweight kid, I learned as a teenager how to manage my weight.) No, my success story is a fitness story. It’s about how, in my mid-thirties, I got strong and started doing things I never thought I was capable of. It’s about how, at 37, I am happier with my body and more confident in myself than I have ever been.
When I first met Mitchel Black, I was already working out multiple times per week doing group-fitness classes at a globo gym. I was having fun, but my body shape was not changing at all. I was not overweight, but I also was not “toned.” My husband was doing a boot camp class with Mitchel, and sometimes they would invite me to join in. It was hard. Really hard. I could not even lift the 35lbs. bar for exercises, but instead stuck with an 18lbs. body bar that I had used in group-fitness classes. I slowly began joining my husband’s class more and more, and soon after Mitchel decided to open Strongside.
My husband encouraged me to make the switch to Strongside. I have a son with autism, and my husband wanted me to be able to keep up with him as he grew. I immediately loved the classes at Strongside, and I started lifting more and doing more than I thought I could. I went from an 18lbs. body bar to a barbell weighing 55lbs. But I still didn’t think of myself as fit or athletic.
About six months into my Strongside journey, Mitchel set up a combine for people who wanted to try out for a competition team. My husband was interested, and I went and participated just to get a workout. I had no delusions of grandeur of being selected. To my surprise, I was asked to be an alternate and to begin doing Saturday workouts with the team. Mitchel said I was “well-rounded” which I jokingly told my husband meant I wasn’t really good at anything.
The team workouts challenged me. The weights were heavier, the workouts longer, and the people fitter. It was hard feeling like they were all fitter than me, but I kept at it and tried my best. I made a lot of progress and started hitting some big goals. I learned how to do strict and kipping pull-ups, and got my first double under.
Not one to be satisfied with the progress that has been made, Mitchel decided last summer that he wanted to improve upon the Saturday team workouts. He created an entire Competitors’ Program that included daily programing for workouts. They were longer and harder. Once again, I was challenged to be better.
I have come so far since starting at Strongside two years ago. I am no longer afraid to try things, no longer afraid of physical challenges. I have completed two obstacle course races, competed in multiple local CrossFit competitions with teammates, and last year earned my black belt in taekwondo. And I have achieved many fitness goals—chest-to-bar pull-ups, consecutive double unders, a 125 lbs. clean-and-jerk, and a 95 lbs. snatch.
But I am not done. Every time a new goal is reached, I set another one (hand-stand push-ups, here I come). Strongside’s motto is “We make people better.” And I can say for sure that I am so much better. My fitness is better, sure. My body shape is better (I haven’t lost any weight but am down two sizes in jeans). But I am better as a person because I believe in myself more and because I have such an amazing community of people around me who celebrate my success just as much as I do.