I have never been what one might consider “sporty” or “athletic” or even “fit.” I had a fainting disorder when I was young, so my parents naturally shied away from putting me into any contact sports or really any physical activity whatsoever (who could blame them). And my asthma got me out of the monthly mile-run at school, much to my delight and my classmate’s chagrin. P.E. was the only “B” I ever received in middle school because of it. I attempted a year of softball, but let’s just say I played 2nd base and batted 6th (in other words, I was mediocre at best). And I didn’t enjoy any of it. I much preferred hanging out at home and working on “my stories.”
And then I entered High School and tried out for the cheer team partially because my dad had always dreamed of me being a cheerleader (I had Miami Dolphins cheer onesies, for crying out loud), but mainly because all my friends were doing it. Because of my small size, cheerleading became a sport (yes, I’m going there) I excelled at. I made the competition squad my freshman year and from ages 13 to 17, I was working out two to three hours a day, for at least five days a week. I could go home from practice and consume an entire bag of sourdough rolls (that’s 12 rolls, for those keeping count) and still remain less than 100 pounds. But, what was even more amazing was it didn’t even feel like working out. Yes, I hated conditioning days and having to run 2 miles before practice in the Southern California heat, but I was running alongside my best friends and we were singing Nelly’s “It’s Getting Hot in Heeere” while stripping off our own clothes. It was fun and I didn’t have an excuse to skip out on practice because I was “tired” or “busy working.” It was just a part of my routine and identity.
Unfortunately, I also sustained several injuries so when High School ended, so did my cheer career. It was suddenly a lot harder to find the motivation to work out. College and work took precedence. I joined gyms that I ended up paying money each month to not workout (or would go once or twice, you’re welcome 24-hour fitness and Total Woman and 24-hour Fitness again), or take classes that I would go to once or twice and then find an excuse to not go again (the times sucked, it cost too much, it was too hard, you name it).
A few years ago, probably around the same time I started dating Nate and realized I didn’t have to spend so much brain energy on guys and could focus on something else, I discovered Blogilates— an online Pilates-style workout from Cassey Ho. The videos were amazing, fifteen minutes, easy to follow, and unlike other online workouts I had tried they actually made me break a sweat. The best part: they were completely free and I could do them anytime! One of my good friends, Kolleen also got into Blogilates and together we would buy the workout programs and do the videos before our hikes. We even did a round of Cassey’s popular PIIT workout in my hotel room the day of my wedding! I finally found something to keep me fit, motivated, and I was sticking to it. But, the one problem with workouts at home is you have to keep yourself accountable and finding that motivation can be hard after awhile. Especially when you stop seeing results.
Fortunately, that was around the time I discovered the studio “Heartbeat House” and the class “Yoga Booty Ballet.” Kolleen also went to the studio, and so did my friend and neighbor, Danielle, so I could carpool five minutes away, get some social time, and get a great workout. Score! And the class was exactly what I was looking for— cardio that doesn’t feel like cardio. Another amazing part of the class was the instructor. You know how sometimes at a workout class you feel so intimated by the teacher that it turns you off from the whole experience? I felt the opposite of that when I met Luisa. Her teaching style was fun, authentic, and REAL. You could tell how much she loved teaching, but there was ZERO judgement or expectation from her, which were the two things that discouraged me from working out in a group setting in the first place. YBB soon became more than a class to me, it became a refuge and community. Especially when I got pregnant.
If you would’ve told me I would be more active during my pregnancy than when I wasn’t, I would’ve laughed in your face. Pregnancy is all about kicking back and eating as much ice cream as your sensitive teeth can handle, right? Wrong! I was even more invested in my health and wellness with the little babe growing inside me, and fortunately I finally had all the tools to make my fitness goals happen. Even more fortunate was Danielle was also pregnant at the same time (crazy, right?) We went to YBB together when we weren’t exhausted, and we also started taking private Pilates lessons with Luisa. Never before in my life did I look forward to working out as much as I have during those Sunday afternoon sessions. I felt in tune with my body and baby, and I truly believe I had such a great labor experience because of it. YBB also had a monthly “Mama’s Circle” where the same women who attend the YBB classes and are also moms meet up for a night of sharing and dancing. Having this community has completely changed the way I felt and thought I would feel about motherhood. I attended when I was pregnant, but I attended my first one post-Jack this past week and I cannot tell you what an amazing gift that monthly meet-up is (well, I guess I am telling you… it’s AMAZING). The amount of gratitude I feel because of it is tough to fully express because after two hours, I feel like a better mother, wife, and woman. Now, that’s powerful.
And the habits I formed while I was pregnant are sustaining (for now) post-baby. Now matter how chaotic things are with Jack, I try to find ten minutes to stretch and do some yoga. I’ve incorporated him into my workouts with a mommy and baby workout we do together every morning after his first nursing session (babies make amazing weights, and it allows him to stay upright after he eats, so we both benefit!) And lucky for me and my dog, Jack loves going for walks in his carrier and sometimes that’s the only way he’ll take a nap. I also took my first real class at Heartbeat House this past week- an amazing class that Luisa created called Isole8, which if I had to describe my perfect workout I’d say I’d want it to be a fusion of pilates, yoga, and dance and something that is fun and seemingly “do-able” during class, but I’ll feel afterwards… and that’s EXACTLY what Isole8 is. And Danielle and I are going to keep up our weekly pilates “dates” (funnily enough, we’re texting about scheduling as I’m writing this!) Now I don’t see working out as something “needed, but challenging,” which makes me reluctant to do it, I see it as an escape. I see it as “me” time.” And I see it as truly necessary in my life for my psyché and overall wellbeing. I’m just so fortunate that I found the workouts that work for me and my lifestyle, and I have an amazing group of women to share it with.