What motivated you to start at AFS?
For awhile I had known I needed to make some healthier changes to my lifestyle. My career keeps me very busy, and over the past few years, my “work-life balance” had become anything but balanced, to the point that I was no longer doing a good job of taking care of myself. I wasn’t taking the time to cook healthy meals, wasn’t exercising regularly, and was definitely not sleeping enough. I’ve always been an active person; I played sports when I was younger, and started running several years ago. But then I sustained a foot injury that seriously inhibited my ability to run. Between that and the fact that I was working so much, I started gaining weight. I knew if I didn’t do something to intervene, the cycle would continue and I would grow increasingly unhappy, and I knew that it would be easier to prevent obesity rather than trying to reverse it. I also wanted to try to get back to being able to run without pain again. Ads for AFS kept popping up in my Facebook feed, and I knew my friend Sue Manor had been very successful at losing weight here. So, one day I reached out to her to ask about it, and she had nothing but positive things to say. I was a little nervous to try it, but she convinced me it would be awesome, and she was right! One of the biggest reasons I decided to join was because I liked the accountability aspect. For the most part, I knew what I needed to be doing, I just wasn’t doing it. So, having a practitioner to report back to every week to help hold me accountable was something that I knew I would benefit from.
What keeps you coming back to AFS?
When I started at AFS, I came in feeling a bit like a fish out of water. I hadn’t done a group fitness class in years, and wasn’t sure I would like them. After surviving the first three workouts of “eternity squats,” as I liked to call them, I knew that AFS was different than anything I’d done before. I like that the workout is different each day. I like that, if I walk into a class having had the most stressful day of my life, I will leave feeling challenged, energized, refreshed, and ready to tackle the stress in a more productive manner. I’ve been dealing with several injuries over the past few years, and love that the workout can be tailored around those injuries if needed, and I still leave feeling as though I got a great workout. I appreciate that AFS is active with community outreach, charitable organizations, and puts on educational events for its clients. Of course, I enjoy being able to see the progress that I have made with my assessments and in each weight loss class or strength session that I do. But most of all, I love the people here! From the first day I walked in, I knew AFS was different. It has more of a family feel to it; from the staff, to the other clients, to my fitness practitioner, Jen, everyone has been so welcoming and friendly.
How do you define your success?
For me, the answer to this question has evolved over time. Initially, I defined my success by seeing my fat mass or my circumference measurements decrease in my assessments, which encouraged me to stay on track and keep pushing myself. As that happened, I started seeing other changes. My cardiopulmonary performance started to improve during classes, and more noticeably, when I ran during my “cardio days.” As I’ve been able to get back into running more (thanks to Jen helping me work through some of the injuries that were holding me back), my times have gotten much faster, faster than I ever fathomed I could run. I was able to PR in the last two races I ran by a considerable margin, and look forward to challenging myself to keep improving with each race that I run in the future. Now, my success is defined by each new milestone that I achieve at the gym. My latest goal is to be able to do a pull-up again…it’s been about 20 years since that last happened and, while it’s a slow process, I am ALMOST there!
What was your biggest obstacle you overcame to achieve your success?
Looking back, I think the biggest obstacle was actually finding sustainable ways to adjust my lifestyle to give me more time to exercise and find ways to cook healthy foods. One of the things Jen told me at our initial meeting was that she prepares her meals for the week all at once, so she always has food ready to go. I came in to AFS with a pretty strong dislike for leftovers, but soon realized that if I don’t prepare my meals ahead of time, I often won’t have enough time after work to whip something up from scratch. So now, I spend an hour or two on the weekends preparing healthy meals to last me most of the week (trying to add a little variety so that I don’t get bored by the end of the week). I attribute about 80% of the success I’ve had in losing weight to this one simple lifestyle change. And, I no longer hate leftovers!
What advice would you give others looking to start with AFS?
This is actually a timely question, because my sister and brother in law recently joined AFS in Plymouth! My advice is, if you are going to join AFS, go all in. Recognize that achieving your goals is possible, but that you have to be willing to put in the work to get there. Be honest with yourself, focus on figuring out what aspects of your life are contributing to unhealthy behaviors, and then work on trying to fix or change those issues. Incorporate your friends and family into these changes if you can. Work your hardest in each class, and, if you value being able to walk normally and rise up out of a seated position, then DEFINITELY spend some extra time stretching afterwards! And utilize your practitioner, he or she is a valuable source of support and information (and also, at times, entertainment)! Don’t be afraid to ask questions – it’s how you build your relationship with your practitioner!