If you have ever trained in the 8:30 class you know why this spotlight is being written. Holly brings a presence of high energy, fun, and great work ethic to each class and its so great to see. In a very lively class she brings positive energy that is contagious to the entire class.
I took a little time to chat with Holly about her experiences here at Get Fit NH and what she thought about it. I wanted to share that talk with all of you as well!
Thanks for talking with me Holly and keep making it happen!
Set the time aside to read this spotlight, if you are having trouble, whether it be emotional, physical, or a combination of both. If this doesn't make you want to run through a wall then I don't know what to tell you, because it sure as heck makes me want to. I have been so unbelievably proud of the way Andrea has handled her time her and even more so how she is handling her current injury. I’m more than happy to admit that reading this in full was uplifting, I very seriously suggest you do the same. In Andrea’s own words;
“I started at GetFit nearly a year and a half ago, though it sometimes feels like a world away. It had been 6 months since me and my family uprooted our lives in the midwest and came to New Hampshire - a homecoming for me, though it still meant leaving a decade’s-worth of friendships. I was feeling unmoored and unhealthy, eating whatever and whenever I’d like, and never really exercising. It was when my knees started to really hurt when climbing stairs that I actively sought out GetFit NH and got on the 5am wait list. After a few months of the lovely 6:45pm class, I made it into the 5am class, where I’ve been nearly every morning ever since.
I still love the things that initially drew me to GetFit - the comraderie, the lack of mirrors, the truly judgement-free atmosphere, and how I’ve always been able to participate at some level. When I began at GFNH I was incredibly self-conscious - uncomfortable in my own skin and hyper-aware of both my colorful bands and my limitations. But by coming consistently over these past 16 months, I gained - muscle, confidence, and skills, while at the same time losing quite a bit of weight. My goals shifted from weight-loss and shedding my bands, to climbing the FitRanx levels and training again for a half-marathon (something I enjoyed many years ago!) I was looking forward to better weather for the start of my training, but then life, with it’s best laid plans, had other ideas.
You see, along with strength and confidence, I had rediscovered a love of sports. Now, I have never considered myself an athlete - my sister was always the one that excelled with grace and drive (and loads of skill). Yet here I was in my 30s, lifting heavy weights, running, and playing field hockey again! I also returned to skiing, something I did every winter growing up. So the decision to go on a big family ski trip out west was a no brainer - I was feeling great, able to really dig in and go fast, enjoying the experience. But I couldn’t control for that grassy patch of ice or the novice skier that didn’t know to check uphill when merging. As I fell (yep, it was a big one), I could hear and feel everything tear in my right knee. And when my dad skied up behind my crumpled body on the ground, just seconds later, my first words (along with many swears) were, “I just blew out my knee!” And boy did I. After a trip to the ER, a rough plane ride home, and an MRI I was diagnosed with a fully torn ACL, fully torn MCL, and torn meniscus - the aptly named “unhappy triad.”
I’m not going to lie, this injury has been painful - both physically (obviously!) and emotionally. I lost a lot in that silly fall - gone were all my goals, gone were the sports and teammates I had finally returned to, gone was my progress. What laid ahead (and still lays ahead) for me is lots of physical therapy, surgery for both my ACL and meniscus, nearly two months of crutches, and more physical therapy. Then, once that’s all done, I’ll be starting again. It felt, at first, like I would have to start from the beginning, a thought that made me cry.
But here’s the thing about me - I am both stubborn and absurdly optimistic. I cannot undo that fall, but you had better believe I can make it to the gym every day and do upper body sprints until my heart rate is at 94%. I can’t test up to the next FitRanx level, but I can work on my push-ups and core strength with the best of them. I can’t play field hockey or run, but I can do my physical therapy to help ensure my surgery and recovery go as smoothly as possible. Just because I can’t show up in the ways I had been, doesn’t mean I won’t show up at all. I believe in living a full life, and this experience is just one part of it - an opportunity to practice grit and drive, to learn how to slow down and care for myself, to accept help and even (shock!) ask for it when I need it.
In the days and week after my injury I kept in touch with Dean and Nancy, updating them on my predicament. I was most afraid they would tell me that I was being too difficult, that making up different workouts just for me was too much, and that I couldn’t return. Instead, I was told that if I could get myself to the gym, they would train me. A week and a half after my fall I limped back into the gym with my new goal. Show up. Just show up - no matter the circumstance, the limitation, the fear, and sometimes even, the pain (as long as your doctor OKs it) - keep showing up. Because this is just one small part in life and in the end I’ll be back (with my newly reconstructed knee) and darn it if I won’t be better and stronger than ever!”
What you just watched was our 4:15 superstar, Ruth Littlefield, deadlift 165 pounds. I'll never forget the day Ruth started with us. Her biggest concerns were getting up and down off of the floor, kneeling, being in pain and just sick of feeling icky! Ruth has been training with us for almost a year (it will be a year in June!) during that time she has gained SO much to include knowledge, strength and confidence. It has been a coach's DREAM to watch this woman transform herself from the inside out. I am so proud of this woman right here and I am absolutely delighted to share her story...
In the fall of 2016 I started Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). Through that work, I focused on mindfulness and awareness. My therapist took me through a process to help me identifying what I value in life. The values that were calling out to me where self-care, connection, courage/bravery, humor, creativity, curiosity and contribution. In order to move towards the things I valued, my therapist had me identify what I could do that would help me move towards those things and to be aware of what was moving me away from them. I was extremely sedentary, overweight, with high blood pressure, cardiomyopathy, asthma and other ailments. Engaging in physical activity, especially movement that built my strength, flexibility and cardio would allow me to move towards all of my values. The challenge though was that I had never liked exercise, I had a pocket full of excuses, I was uncomfortable in gyms, and I didn't know what I needed to do to be successful. But my therapist encouraged me to be brave, so I checked out a variety of places and programs hoping I could find a place that was a good fit. I tried a Vinyasa yoga class that was not customized and way too advanced for me. I looked for a personal trainer but had no idea what to look for or how to approach it. Finally, two of my co-workers told me about Get Fit NH. One has been coming here since it started. The other friend was newer to it and had lost a lot of weight and gained a lot of strength. So I decided to check it out. It took a while for a class slot that worked for me to open up and I was SO nervous the first time I came to a session in June of 2017. Everyone here, from the coaches to the trainees are so friendly, encouraging and non-judgmental.
When I started, I didn't know squat about exercising and I had no confidence in my abilities. I have learned that through my commitment to the work and the right supports (thank you coaches and all my co-trainees), I have the capacity to change. It takes effort, patience, and a willingness to celebrate small changes while not being discouraged by set backs.
The biggest surprise since beginning training is that I actually love working out now! That is a bonus I never expected. My favorite saying when I'm in session is "I just DID that!". At first, getting up and down off the floor was almost impossible. Now I do it relatively quickly and without my knees screaming, although I am still not terrible graceful. I just got to the place where I can bench press 40 pounds and dead lift 165 pounds (check out the video of me being "strong like bull!!!"). I feel so much better in so many ways. Simple things, like being able to reach my shoes laces and walk places are so improved. My Cardiologist says my cardiomyopathy is significantly better and that is life changing. When I think back to those values I identified, Get Fit NH is definitely making it happen!!!
No, Ruth...YOU are definitely making it happen. Thank you for choosing to train with us and thank you for being a valued piece of the Get Fit NH family
The spotlight shines on Robin today. I could write a novel about Robin, because that’s how awesome she is. One of the best parts of being a coach is not only watching someone physically change, but watching them change mentally and emotionally. Robin has changed in all of these ways. When I first met with Robin 7 months ago she was so nervous. It’s common to feel nervous and self-conscious about starting a new training plan and doing something you’ve never done before alongside people you’ve never met before. Talk about intimidating. Robin embraced it and dove in anyways. The Robin I know today is SO far from the Robin I met 7 months ago. Robin today is confident, she is strong, she is outgoing and funny and as you’ll learn in her remarks she is proud of herself
I knew that I was at the point in my life where just eating right wasn't enough. In the past I could just stop eating junk and cut out sugar and that, by itself, was enough to drop some pounds and I'd be happy with that. However, once I reached my 40's , I realized that wasn't enough and that I was starting to lose muscle at a rapid pace and that simple tasks were becoming more difficult. Walking up flights of stairs was becoming challenging (and working on the 3rd floor of city hall, the elevator was becoming a normal part of my trek and I felt guilty every time) and even getting up off the couch was becoming a challenge. As I was approaching 50, I knew I needed to change something. I saw the post on Facebook about a 28-day Metabolic Reboot and decided to give it a shot. I figured I could handle 4 weeks. Those 4 weeks went by in a flash and I knew, I KNEW, that I had to continue.
I've learned that I'm stronger than I give myself credit for and I can also tolerate more than I give myself credit for. And, most importantly (for me anyway), I CAN do an exercise program regularly and not die (although, sometimes it feels like I am going to...ha ha ha), that it can be part of my life and yet not RULE my life. I always thought only the "crazy fitness people" exercised regularly and I was certainly not one of "them". I have learned that I actually LIKE (*gasp*) to exercise. Still don't like to run...not sure anyone can ever make me like that. But I look forward to my 5:30 class and I NEVER dread going. In the past when I had signed up for another gym, I would always look for excuses why I couldn't go and would justify it with, "well, it's only $10 a month so it's not a big deal". And then after a while when I realized that all I was doing was adding to their profit margin and not getting any benefit out of it, I would cancel. That cycle continued on for years. Now THAT'S crazy.
One of the most important things I've learned - I love the coaches here! I remember when I was talking to Nancy on the phone the day I called to ask about what I had seen on Facebook and I was thinking "I don't want to be in a class with boys...I don't want them to see my failure." Sad, isn't it? That I hadn't even started yet and I was already thinking I was going to fail. That was my past experiences programming my brain to automatically think that. So Nancy registered me for the 8:30am "ladies only" class. I remember that I was nervous as heck thinking that all the coaches would be drill instructors (like Biggest Loser) screaming at people and humiliating them. After meeting with Meagan for the first time, I walked out of there thinking, "I like her and I don't think she'll yell at me". I got in my car feeling excited to start and thought to myself "I got this!" From day one, I have been very happy with the training and the people. I have never seen a more encouraging group of engaged coaches and I feel like I'm so lucky to have started my training there. I tell people all the time about it. When people see me leaving work with my gym bag and ask where I'm going - I'm sure they immediately regret it because I then go on a long-winded sales pitch for GetFit NH. When people say to me "you look great" - I take that opportunity to tell them about GetFit NH. I wish you guys had GetFit NH buttons, I would wear it proudly every day to promote you all!!!!!
Since I started my training almost 7 months ago, I have lost 15 pounds and 8.4 inches total. I'm still a far distance from my goal and I'm moving along at a turtle's pace, but I'm very happy with the progress I've made physically in those months.
Now the part you don't actually see. I am FEELING so much better. I can walk up all 5 flights of stairs at work and I don't save all my trips to only do once (like I used to do because I just was not comfortable moving my body), I find that I don't mind going up and down those stairs several times a day. I park farther away and don't mind walking. When I run errands, I don't mind getting in and out of the car several times.
The other part is how proud my family is of me and they tell me all the time how proud they are that I am taking measures to take care of myself. My husband said that he is not worried anymore that I won't be around to see our children get married and have children. He said that previously, he worried about that every day. How sad is that? I am forever grateful to all of you for giving me my life back and for helping me to see that I can succeed, however long that takes. I love you guys!!!! ; )
We are so proud of Robin. Thank you for sharing your story! Keep making it happen!
This is such a deserved spotlight and I am happy I was able to catch up with this person! Recently I was able to sit down with Kristen Wolfe and talk with her about her experiences, advice for new people, and just overall memories about Get Fit NH. Kristen is a great definition of consistency, hard work, and dedication! Kristen comes in everyday and gives each second of class all she has and is a great leader in class.
Check out what Kristen had to say in her own words too!
Thanks again Kristen!
The other day at our Get Fit NH team meeting we were discussing “The Get Fit NH” difference. Together we came up with 40 reasons how we are more than just a gym and we wanted to share those reasons with you. We want you to be proud you train with us. We want to make you proud. We want you to share “The Get Fit NH difference” with your friends and family too!
Periodized, progressive, planned training
Functional Movement Screening
Heart Rate Monitoring
Health History Review and Medical Releases
Doctor’s notes and communication with outside health professionals
Relationships and Referrals with outside health professionals
Hands on approach
All-in ability – meaning we can train anyone at any level under any circumstance
Modifications, regressions and progressions
Monthly goal setting
Welcoming Atmosphere from coaches and students alike
We value our students – no one is just a number
2 week free trial
24/7 access to a coach via email, text and phone
Emphasis on warm up, mobility, flexibility, strength and cardio health
Career centered facility
Newsletter/blog and rock’n website
Technology- from timing apps, to music to projector to heart rates
We know your name
Private Facebook Group
We seek and act on feedback
Consistent training in both locations and all training times
Training time and location flexibility
Clean facilities- yes, we have a professional cleaning company who comes twice a week!
Emphasis on life skills and functional movement
Workshops and seminars
Student Appreciation Parties
Anniversary Celebrations that start a one month and continue each year!
This spotlight is a longer one, but it details an amazing accomplishment that I think you will really enjoy reading about, plus some amazing pictures from Howard. Howard
Howard Roever has been coming to GetFitNH for over three years. This past November he decided to take an adventure outside of Concord and New Hampshire when he traveled to Tanzania to explore the country and also climb to the roof of Africa, up the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro. The idea was born via a group text among childhood friends. One of these friends knew of a small Florida based non-profit called Project Change that had organized a charity climb to raise money for the organization. Howard was immediately drawn to the idea and even after all of his friends decided not to go, he still had the bug. Although an avid hiker throughout New England, he had never climbed higher than Mount Washington. In contrast, the entry gates to the Machame Trail leading up to the summit of Kilimanjaro was just shy of six thousand feet.
To train for his effort Howard climbed throughout 2017. As the calendar pages turned Howard and his yellow lab, Phin, logged many miles while bagging peaks across New Hampshire and Vermont. They also did quite a bit of trail walking on Concord’s trail network. Oftentimes Howard would hike with a thirty pound plate in his backpack to get used to carrying weight on and up trails. He was also at GetFitNH nearly every day possible. “When I decided that I was going to do Kilimanjaro last spring, my workouts took on added importance. I tried to keep up a solid effort each morning and limit slacking. Slacking wasn’t going to help me get to 19,341 feet. My workouts at GetFit definitely helped keep me at a good fitness level. Then I just had to put in the time on the trails.”
According to Howard, early November and his time to fly over to Tanzania came around fast. “When I first committed around Easter, it felt like I had nothing but time on my hands. The next thing I knew October was here.” On November 3, 2017 Howard flew from JFK in New York to Doha and then on to Kilimanjaro. At the same time he began his regimen of malaria and altitude sickness prevention. While Howard felt that he was ready for the climb itself, the one wild card was the altitude and what effect it would have on his body. The last thing he wanted was to have to turn back due to acute altitude sickness. Arriving on a Saturday afternoon, Howard had a day to acclimate to the area before beginning the climb on Monday. He met his fellow climbers who were all from Florida and explored the town of Moshi with them. While in Moshi for dinner early Sunday evening, Howard got his first glimpse of the mountain which had previously been shrouded in the clouds. He was impressed but its prominence on the landscape and still couldn’t believe that the next day he would begin the long trek to the summit. After dinner the group met with two of their guides back at the hotel. There they went over the route they would take and what challenge each day would bring. There was truly nervous anticipation among the group of six climbers.
Monday morning they took a small bus to the Machame Gate where they met with their team of porters. There were twenty porters to carry the camp essentials up the mountain; the various tents and food stuffs and other materials needed for a successful climb. This group of men were mainly in their twenties and thirties and would strap on a backpack full of gear in addition to balancing another parcel on their shoulders or head. Howard said that he marveled at not only the ability of the porters to carry this gear up the trails, but also their pleasant demeanor throughout. A cheerful “Jambo” (hello) would constantly be heard on the trail with porters passing on their way up or down the mountain. Due to a computer glitch at the gate the first day began later than planned which caused the first day to go into the night, and the rain. The trek through the rain forest was supposed to begin in the late morning and end at around 5 pm. However the group was hours behind the scheduled start and as a result the last few hours of the day were headlamp assisted and wet from the rain. Howard recalls getting to the first camp and thinking, ‘what have I gotten myself into?’ “That first day took a lot out of me. I was happy when we finally got to camp and was hoping that a night of sleep would ready me for what Day 2 would bring.” The group was at approximately ten thousand feet elevation after Day 1.
Howard did wake up refreshed (“I slept like a rock!”) and sipping his fresh cup of instant coffee (“that’s what the locals drink – and it’s quite good!”), he got a great view of Kilimanjaro in the distance. They had not been able to see it the night before due to darkness. But from the campsite clearing he took it all in. “I began to look at the mountain each morning as my Moby Dick. There it would be with its glacier and snow-topped summit each morning. And I wondered if we would ever get there.” But with each passing day the group did get closer. As they made their way they would pass through changing terrains and climates. From the rain forest, to the plateau, and the alpine desert, before finally the summit. On Day 2 it rained nearly the entire time. At least six of the eight hour trek were wet. And it was a cold rain. After several thousand feet of elevation gain they were finally at the second campsite. Howard remembers it being a rugged day. “The rain was killer. Not only wet, but cold. It zaps the strength right out of you.” One of the other climbers quit after this day saying that it was too much for her and she was escorted down the mountain.
From Day 3 on, the group made their way through the alpine desert. Howard recalls it being a landscape so very foreign to him. “There were all of these exotic looking trees and shrubs in some areas and then just nothing but rock. Piles and piles of volcanic rock. He also recalls the pace of the climb oftentimes being excruciatingly slow. The locals have a term they use; “Pole, Pole.” Translated to English it simply means “Slowly, slowly.” Howard will tell you that (even for an old guy) he is not the most patient hiker on the mountain and will often keep a brisk pace while hiking in the White Mountains. He said that the “pole, pole” thing drove him crazy during the first few days of the climb and he had to be reminded more than once by the guides to be patient. “You will need this pace above 15,000 feet” he was told. Howard discovered that they were right.
The group first hit 15,000 feet on Day 3 and then after going down in elevation for a day, camped at above 15,000 feet on Day 5. This would be their base camp. During these days Howard did notice the elevation taking its toll on his breathing. Doing the pole, pole pace he was just fine. But on occasions where he would stop to take in a view and a photo, he would notice that the not so pole, pole walk to get to the back of the still moving line would leave him breathing as if he had just sprinted forty yards and would take about a minute or more before his breathing was again normalized. By Day 6, summit day, Howard was happy for Pole, Pole.
Wakeup call was 2 am on Day 6 morning. Howard didn’t need a wakeup call however as he was up with anticipation of what lie ahead. “We had gone to our tent and had light’s out by about 8pm. I fell asleep pretty quickly but recall being woken up by the wind and snow on the outside of the tent at about 1 in the morning. I just lay there after that thinking about finally getting a close up view of Kili.” After breakfast (“the hot porridge hit the spot!”), backpacks and headlamps were readied and the group was off into the snowy shadows. It was windy and cold, requiring all of the layers Howard had packed. Howard recalled that he was glad he was from New Hampshire as his Floridian climbing partners complained about the temperature, wind and snow. Meanwhile he thought, just another winter day in New Hampshire. The wind would leave it’s mark however as he suffered from a pretty severe wind burn for days after the climb.
Howard recalls the seemingly endless switchbacks as they made their way toward Stella Point and finally Uruhu Peak. How many more he wondered? A hundred? More? Definitely more. “Your mind has lots of time to just go places during a climb like this. Or go nowhere at all. I did think about a lot of different things. It was actually very therapeutic in many ways.” Not wearing a watch and having no other way to tell how long they were climbing, Howard remembers thinking that he would know when it was around six in the morning (or so) when the sun would come up above the clouds behind him. The stars in the southern hemisphere are magnificent and on clear nights there was quite a show. Thousands and thousands of stars twinkling above. This night (morning) was one of those times. In a darkest before the dawn moment Howard recalls one of the guides at the back of the line pointing out the “Southern Cross” constellation as he looked back in awe. Then the moment finally came; the light of the sun coming up somewhere over the Indian Ocean appeared to the East. Then the sun itself appeared above the clouds. Morning had broken, somewhere around 17,000 feet (Howard thought). Simply glorious, he thought at the time.
The climb continued but the altitude began to take hold of the small group. Two of the remaining climbers, a woman and a man, had to rest as the exertion in the thin air became more demanding. The head guide, Alex, had planned for this contingency by having seven guides with the climbers on this day, rather than the usual three. Four of the guides stayed behind with the two overwhelmed climbers and the group of now three continued on. “At this point it was a hard trek. I just tried to focus on other things rather than how much further we had to go. It was hard to leave our two friends behind. We had all become very close. I remember the rocks having faces and looking like famous people and seeing what I thought looked like hieroglyphics on the rocky landscape. All the while putting one foot in front of the other.”
Switchback after switchback the journey continued. As they got closer to the top things became clearer; like the size of part of the glacier that can be seen from miles away. At about 10 am (or so) the group made it to Stella Point. This was the first piece of the summit of Kilimanjaro. Here there was a minor celebration but as Howard looked to his right he was anytyhing but celebratory. He could see the rocky terrain where they still needed to go to get to the top of Kilimanjaro, Uruhu Peak. It was about an hour of so trek away. It may as well have been ten hours. “Everything became so difficult at that point. We were right about 19,000 feet and even the flat areas took effort. Inclines no matter how slight, even more so.” One of the three remaining climbers was wiped at this point and began saying she couldn’t go any further. Having already seemingly lost two of our partners this day Howard recalls not wanting to hear any of this talk. “From the back of the line I let out a loud ‘Woooooooo!’ which scared the crap out of her. I’m not sure where it came from, but I’d like to think it got her attention and helped her press on.”
At this point they were close. Nearly eight hours into their summit day, they were almost to the sign that marks the highest point in Africa. As they approached ever closer, they got a view of just how massive the glacier was; (at least) several hundred yards long and what looked like hundreds of feet thick. Howard recalls it being awe inspiring. The snow from earlier in the morning had all but melted as the sun heated up. The layers of clothes that kept him warm earlier were now causing Howard to sweat. Finally coming around a bend they saw it – the sign. They were there. Just another hundred yards of so to go. They had made it! At the sign there were celebrations and hugs, and lots of photos. They got to look down into the massive crater from which Kilimanjaro was born and view the other glaciers along the rim and into the crater itself. It was a crystal clear sunny day which allowed them to linger and enjoy the moment before heading back down to base camp and beyond. Oftentimes this is not the case and the weather sends climbers hurriedly back down. They were able to bask in their achievement and Howard recalls sheading a few tears in a quiet moment alone. About forty-five minutes after their summiting they were overjoyed when one of their lost partners labored up the trail towards them. He was walking ‘pole, pole’ with a guide on each side of him. They were told later that he refused to quit. “That was a pretty inspirational moment even after our own summit. Nick showed such a strong will.”
After about twenty minutes more the guides gathered the group together and prepared for their decent. After already putting in over eight hours to get to Uhuru they now had about five plus hours of down-mountain trekking to do. Howard’s quads would soon ache like never before in his life. “When we finally got to camp for our last night, I don’t think I have ever been so tired in my life. Emotionally and physically. Just eating our last supper was a chore. After dinner I slept from 8 pm straight through until 6 the next morning.” Remarkably, upon awakening the next morning Howard found that his body had recovered quite well (some thanks to Alleve). After breakfast the group of remaining climbers gathered with the guides and porters for some photos with Kilimanjaro as a distant backdrop. With Moby Dick now in the rearview mirror the photo op turned into a spontaneous Swahili singing and dance session with the porters. “Hakuna Matata, Hakuna Matata.” Rough translation – “No worries, there are no problems here.”
Congratulations Howard, I can only imagine after reading this how much of an awe-inspiring moment it must have been at the top.
This spotlight is an important one, especially for those of you who, like myself, struggle with back pain and are frustrated at not making progress or constant pain. It is a longer spotlight but it is 100% worth the read, find the time to sit down. I’m extremely proud of Sarah and how far she has come, read her story here:
“Pain sucks. No one wants to physically be in pain and that’s been me for the past three years. I am not a person who wants modifications or to bother someone to ask what I should be doing since the workout provided causes me pain. I want to be that person who walks into the gym for the first time and just grabs 75 lbs. to do a goblet squat without a second thought because why not but unfortunately that is not where I am at these days. I started working out at Get Fit NH two months before I got pregnant in 2014. I was overweight and willing and ready to make a life style change to fix that and get healthy. I worked out all throughout my pregnancy which threw the healthy journey I started on a little curve ball when all the normal pregnancy quirks set in like food aversions, nausea for days, back pain, etc. But I continued to show up every morning at 6:15am and chalked up the severe discomfort and pain I started to feel in my back in my second trimester from moving a certain way, sitting, riding in a car or really anything to what I thought was normal back pain that would go away once I gave birth. Birth. Well that’s a story for a different day but it was not good. 48 hours of labor that ended in a not great C-section. So…there I was, baby out and in way more pain than when I was pregnant.
I found new challenges in life I had never thought about after birth; walking in general but also while carrying anything in my hands, sitting or getting up out of chairs, stairs, lying down in bed or getting myself up from bed. All these things I had always taken for granted I now needed help to do and caused me considerable pain. Maybe it would have consumed me if I didn’t have a sweet little baby girl to show for it or maybe that made it even harder because I really didn’t feel like I should care for myself and try and recover. I went back to working out eventually, though it was not 6 weeks out as planned as I was not recovered enough then. It took at least a few months to even feel like I could move semi-comfortably. Once I did go back I remember my husband telling me to “cool it” and me thinking what did he know - I wasn’t pregnant anymore I could do anything! I was SO excited to be able to do a squat thrust again after not having that huge belly that I tried and fell flat on my face – I had a C-section, I had no abs, what was I thinking? Idiot. However, things that I should have been able to do without pain still gave me pain. For instance, just being able to get up off the floor didn’t happen without back pain. I finally came to the realization that something was not right and sought out a physical therapist that specializes in woman’s post-partum back, neck and pelvis pain and was given the answers to my questions. My hip and pelvis on my right side were considerably out of alignment and rotated as compared to my hip/pelvis on my left side. There were some definite complications during my C-section on my right side so it made sense they were not in alignment – quick fix I thought. After quite some time of physical therapy, and these parts not staying in place as they should, it was determined that this had been an underlying issue that was just exasperated by pregnancy weight gain and the eventful birth of my daughter but it was not caused alone by childbirth. It now made sense why I was in pain so early on in my pregnancy. This was not going to be a quick fix. I was not going to be able to go into the gym and just do all the trainings without modifications. Modifications where going to be my life for a while.
The last two years I’ve spent seeing my PT weekly but I am in communication with her multiple times a week; we’re best friends at this point! I was waking each morning doing my PT exercises and ending each night before bed with exercises. You might have heard me and my friend Stacey, who has similar struggles, joking about making sure to “tuck” our hips/pelvis to hold ourselves in the right position to protect our lower backs and sharing stories of all of our PT exercises and how to hold our positioning. It wasn’t until recently that I didn’t need to do those PT exercises anymore to stay in relative alignment. This spring I was starting to feel better, my abs where strengthening and I was doing a better job about keeping myself in alignment. It made sense to start working towards doing the exercises I had been staying away from for years so that I could progress. Wouldn’t it be lovely if that’s where the pain story ended? It was at this time that I digressed and anything I tried to do at the gym caused me pain. Adding in even the smallest unilateral movement blew up my back and made even the exercises that I used to do without pain, very painful. My PT and I talked about me taking a short break from working out as I was losing my mind. The pain just kept getting worse, especially after experiencing a time when I had started to get better to go backwards was just heartbreaking. In a mere month, I went from downgrading my PT visits to twice a month to upping them to twice a week just to correct my alignment so I could try and function properly with some relief. I was getting so frustrated that I wasn’t getting better and it just seemed like I was getting worse every time I tried to do something to progress back to the point where I used to be. Coach Adam noticed this and pulled me aside to ask if I could have my physical therapist write him an email explaining to him, from the beginning what was going on with me. He wanted more than what I could give him which was “I can’t do anything unilateral” or “I know I’m out of alignment and that hurts my back; I need a modification”. He wanted to know in more technical terms what was going on so he could try and help me progress without pain. I think he thought if I could progress it would help to keep me more positive about continue to recover and in turn more accountable about coming to class.
So, for the last four months, my PT and the Coaches at Get Fit have been in communication about my progress, what has set me back and what I need to avoid for now or what I can slowly add in again to build up my tolerance. Coach Adam has been drafting up training modifications for me (if you all have seen me with a white piece of paper in hand!) and has also had me do exercises at the gym to keep my positioning in check, using a DS band to get my glutes to fire as they should and taught me breathing exercises to additionally learn to tuck my ribcage. I remember the day not long ago that I felt my abs fire while doing a regular body weight squat and I got so excited. That meant I had finally found the right positon to be in and my abs had finally come far enough along to support and hold me in that correct position so that my back wasn’t in pain. I totally downplayed my excitement but I made sure to tell Coach Adam because I wouldn’t have got to that point had he not worked on the breathing exercises with me that enforced tucking my ribcage to engage my abs. Breathing, we all do it - seems silly to teach or talk about, right? Well it taught me how to hold myself properly and move without pain. Not silly to me now.
Now to the point. My pain journey has been all about stepping stones. I progress, push myself a little too much and I digress and re-asses with a lot of help. I think the hardest part about all of this for me, besides the pain, is that I couldn’t be doing what everyone else was doing and I have learned I have to be ok with that. I needed to hone in on certain parts of my body and build them up so that I could support myself properly and I just needed to show up to training because people were there to support me. I needed to essentially re-train my body and the coaches have been so great at making it happen (had to throw that one in – right?).
These days you can find me at 6:15am (or sometimes 8:30am class) happily ‘trying’ to do all the things I could once try without a second thought. I won’t be “making poor life decisions” (like that Coach Meagan?) by pushing my body too much but I will be trying to progress to get back to a new normal. I still will have pain some days as I retrain my body how to do certain exercises that will allow me to progress and get healthier. I have to be ok with that fact and keep at it to work through it the best I can. Through the help of several amazing Coaches and an amazing PT (my very own dream team!) I’m progressing and starting to feel better. It’s seemed like such a long road for this perpetually impatient person but I’m showing up and I’m feeling better than I have been in several years.”
One of the BEST parts about being a coach is building relationships. One of the HARDEST parts about being a coach is when those relationships are broken. Sometimes people move, like Paula, but it still feels like a tough break up whenever someone decides to leave.
Paula was in the area a few weeks ago and popped in to train. We had a chat about how hard it was for her to find a new training facility after her move. It struck me pretty hard and I asked her to share HER experience and HER thoughts on the Get Fit NH difference. This is what she said…
When I joined Get Fit in March 2015 I was new to the state and struggling to find community and a new fitness regimen during the polar vortex. Winter 2015 turned out to be the most frigid winter in generations and I was in shock at how brutal the darkness and cold was. For years I pieced together a fitness program running with my dogs and dropping into power yoga and YMCA classes periodically. Aside from the occasional spin or aerobics class, I hadn't experienced small group or personal training.
I trained with Meagan and the team for over two years. Although my work and school schedule made it challenging to commit to one time each day, I was accountable, my membership at Get Fit was a significant investment of my pocketbook, endurance and time. I used MyZone and the Fit 3D Scan religiously. Even after I broke my arm I was back in the gym in a matter of months.
I left concord last Summer to build out a new career path and my fitness regimen hasn't been the same. My schedule is harrowing, splitting my time between RI and NH. It hasn't been for lack of willingness invest in high end gyms in Portsmouth and Providence. At times I've paid significantly more, sometimes $25+ per class but have not found a training experience like Get Fit NH. Although most of the gyms offer more flexibility with drop in classes and al a cart TRX, strength, kick boxing, yoga or boot camp style classes in small group settings, none of them offer hands adjustments or enthusiasm. They lack the excitement and commitment to a bigger picture of health and improvement. They also didn't offer the same type of nutritional or monitoring programs like MyZone or a 3D Scan for full body health.
My work will bring me back to Concord halftime for the next few months and although it is logistically challenging with my schedule, I'm re-committing to Get Fit to ground me in a regimen that will keep me honest and help me re-center. Their methodology around consistency and coaching is the secret sauce that most swanky gyms lack. It's good to be back.
This note is so powerful. Group exercise classes are NOT the same as training and they are not the same as group PERSONAL training. NO ONE else does Functional Movement Screens in this area. Hands on coaching and cueing is the standard here. Knowing your name and things about you is the standard here. Holding you accountable to be here and be better is the standard here. You are not a number. It is our job and our calling to help you be the very best version of yourself.
Thank you, Paula, for taking the time to write this note about your experience since Get Fit NH. We are thrilled to have you back!
Tutu Tuesday started years ago at 6:15 in Epsom. Santa visiting every year is now a tradition. These are just two of the inspirations Stacy has given back to Get Fit NH.
But Stacy is following in the footsteps of others when it comes to her attendance at training. You see Stacy didn't miss one training time all year. She made it happen. There were days she had to get up earlier in order to train. She had to rearrange her schedule other days so it would fit in. It was that important to her that she Made It Happen- no matter what.
In 2017 Stacy didn't miss one training. She is following in the footsteps of others in her training time. They've made it such a way of life that if they aren't there, it is STRANGE.
Here is my challenge to you; who is going to follow in Stacy's footsteps? Who is going to be known for consistency and determination? Who will have perfect attendance in 2018?