AFS: Thanks for sitting down to talk with me Tina! So let’s get started from the beginning: why did you come to AFS in the first place?
Tina: Well, I was Googling gyms in the area, but I didn’t want to just go to a gym because I struggled motivating myself to work out. I was a college athlete, so I knew how to work out, but I just didn’t have someone giving me that guidance.
AFS: Right, and when you’re used to getting your exercise in through athletics, you’re used to a coach telling you what to do.
Tina: Yeah! They give you your workout and you just do it, so I wasn’t used to having to create my own workouts.
But yeah, I was scrolling through Facebook a few weeks after my big gym search in the area and AFS popped up, so I watched the video that you guys had put up and said to myself, “Okay, this looks cool; I wanna try it out.” And to be honest, I didn’t come in for a little while–I travel a lot for work, so that was the main reason–but I remember that I just got tired of looking at myself and the way I looked. This was partially because I used to look so different. I mean, I used to be very, very fit.
For example, there was a specific time when I was talking to a client of mine at work. I was telling her that I played sports back in the day and, with the most surprised look, she was like, “Oh, you played sports?”
That, to me, killed me. The fact that she was basically saying, “Oh, you don’t look like you’re fit enough to be an athlete” was a really big moment for me because I was thinking, “Hmm, I don’t even look like I’m an athlete anymore,” and it really, really bothered me. On top of that, at the time, I had blown my knee out, had reconstructive surgery and really put on weight afterwards. I really struggled exercising because of the atrophy that I had in my knee. Nevertheless, I was like, “Okay, I’m gonna try it.” The selling point for me was that the workouts are different every time and I don’t have to think about it.
I tell people that it’s changed my life and I really, really believe that.
I am so much happier in general, but also with the way that I look, the way that I feel, the fact that I’m stronger, and I’m just so much more active overall.
AFS: What did you think when you first came to AFS? Any nervousness, excitement, both maybe?
Tina: When I came to my orientation, I was a bit nervous. I wasn’t really sure what to expect, so of course I was a little thrown off when my trainer wanted to take my measurements. I actually started crying because my trainer at the time was a tall, attractive, fit guy. Now, if he were to ask me that 15 years earlier when I was more fit, I would’ve been fine with it. But at that moment, I realized I made the right decision because I felt that, if I feel this uncomfortable, I need to make a change.
After some time, I remember him telling me that we didn’t have to do the measurements, but I basically said that we needed to do it because I needed to face it. “If you’re that embarrassed,” I told myself, “clearly you need to be doing this.” I didn’t want this good-looking gentleman to be seeing me. Going out of my comfort zone turned out to be a great decision, looking back.
From a workout perspective, it was pretty hard at first, specifically because of my knee. When I first got there, I had to hold one of the weight bars like a cane. I could barely lift my leg up when I was doing the steps–that’s how much atrophy I had. That created such a difference in strength between my right and left leg. Even though the class was hard, the instructors gave me the attention I needed; they knew about my knee already because I had mentioned it to my assigned trainer; they gave me different exercises that were on the screen.
Overall, it was hard, but I was like, “Okay, this is good. They understand my knee problem, they’re not trying to overdo it, and they seem like they genuinely care.”
AFS: Tell us about a moment when you were really proud of yourself. Any particular time when you got over a barrier or broke through a goal of yours?
Tina: I don’t know if there’s a specific moment, but I can tell you this: I struggled a lot in the beginning; it took me from the time I signed up in August until about January to really kick it into high gear and get consistent with things. That’s when Brooke became my new trainer.
At first, I didn’t like her. When I had my first meeting with her, I was telling her about my real-life problems–traveling, time, etc. She basically looked me dead in the eye and said, “if it was important to you, you would make the time.”
AFS: Intense! That doesn’t really sound like the fun, easy-going Brooke that I know.
Tina: Right? I think she just read me and realized that, with my background as a former athlete, that I just needed some tough love.
AFS: So, do you feel like that got you focused and on track?
Tina: Oh, it did. Regardless, I said that I’m doing this. When I made my resolution in January, I started making time. I took what Brooke said to heart and started doing things like staying at hotels that had full kitchens so I could start making my own food when I traveled. Early on, if you were to look from January of 2016 to like June of 2016, that’s where I had most of my weight loss; I was very, very committed.
The way I got consistent was just starting slow by making it a goal to simply come to classes. I didn’t place a goal on how often that was because I would eventually just get frustrated if I didn’t hit that number due to the nature of my job. If I was home, I was going. That was my goal, just to go–I didn’t want anything to do with nutrition just yet–I just wanted to make myself go to classes and get started with that.
It was halfway into 2016 when I started noticing something. My husband would say things to me like, “Hey, let’s go out to dinner,” and I would normally just agree and go out. Halfway into 2016 though, my response started to be more along the lines of “Sure, but after I workout.” At that moment, I realized that I was actually making time for the gym and was pretty proud of that because I made a mindset shift.
“I will say that, now that I moved away and still pay for the client management, I’m trying other places–that are, by the way, more expensive, don’t give you a trainer, and everyone sort of leaves after class. Here, it feels more like a family atmosphere and people recognize your success a bit more“
AFS: Overall, what’s your long-term goal? What do you see for yourself in the future?
Tina: Long-term, I don’t ever really want to gain fat again, I want to continue to workout, and I want to keep being active. My confidence is so much higher and I just feel really good where I’m at right now. I’m not still doing classes just because I live in Brighton, but I still pay the membership fee to stay in contact with Brooke and do assessments so that I can stay on track. Right now, I’m in sort of maintenance mode–meaning that I’m not gaining or losing any weight–but I’m fine with that; I’m comfortable with where I’m at and I’m actually not worried about it.
AFS: You did mention that your mindset is in a better place now than when you first started, so I can see why you’re not really worried.
Tina: Well yeah, and I actually played volleyball for the first time since I blew my knee out, which is great. When I first started playing again, I was a little nervous–I didn’t know if I’d be apprehensive about getting hurt again–but I had it down, and I gotta thank AFS for giving me the strength to play again without getting hurt. Like I said, I just don’t want to go back to the old me. I want to be able to keep working out and keep being active, whether it be here at AFS, at a different gym, on vacation, you name it; I just want to be able to do active things.
AFS: Right, you want to keep that consistent routine. I completely understand because, once you get into this type of healthy lifestyle, it’s hard to go back.
Tina: And I feel like a boss. Being able to do a pushup, for example, is great, especially when I never used to be able to do even one!
AFS: What is it about AFS that helps you stay motivated and on-track?
Tina: I would say the people. You know, I have a really goofy relationship with Chris; I really like Austin, Brooke, really everybody. I say that because it really does feel like a family. I think it’s something that grows because you have to be here to build those relationships. I will say that, now that I moved away and still pay for the client management, I’m trying other places–that are, by the way, more expensive, don’t give you a trainer, and everyone sort of leaves after class. Here, it feels more like a family atmosphere and people recognize your success a bit more.
For example, before I left, I would be in class and people that I didn’t even know on a personal level would be like, Hey, you’re looking great!” When you go to class at the same time on a consistent basis, you see others that go at the same time too and you’re able to see their transformations as well. I try to do the same thing for other people; if I saw that someone visibly looks stronger or looks like he or she has lost weight, I made it a point to show that I recognized it. It’s a really unique atmosphere where everyone empowers one another to be his or her best, no matter what your goals are.
AFS: What’s one piece of advice that you’d give someone that either doesn’t know where to start or is just really nervous to start at a gym?
Tina: I’d say to just do it. You can think about it for days and months and it, before you know it, a year goes by and you never actually start anything. So I would tell that person to take the leap of faith and try to understand that AFS has got your back if you decide to join the family here.
AFS: How is your life different right compared to before you started at AFS?
Tina: You know, I tell so many people about this place, even when I’m talking to people that aren’t even from here. I’ll be with a client in Indiana and tell them about AFS all the way over here in Plymouth and they’ll be like, “Oh, I wish we had one of those here!” I tell people that it’s changed my life and I really, really believe that.
I am so much happier in general, but also with the way that I look, the way that I feel, the fact that I’m stronger, and I’m just so much more active overall. When you’re heavier, every day tasks are so much more difficult and you don’t realize it until you become more fit. For example, bringing groceries into the house isn’t as much of a chore as it used to be. I don’t ache as much anymore. It’s definitely been the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I don’t even get to come here the way that I’d like anymore, but being able to talk to Brooke while I’m trying to find another place around where I live really has been great.