If I look back, I tried many types of exercise. Over the years, running was the one thing that stuck. I would say that my dad was a strong influence for getting me interested in long distance running. He was a runner throughout most of my life and when I told him I was interested in trying it, he did everything he could to support that. Running suited my personality = me against the clock or me against the distance. I need a deadline or a contest to motivate me. So it was great for my running when organized events became very popular. Half marathon was my favourite distance. Challenging and yet easy enough to incorporate into my busy full time working/single parent lifestyle, even when I had to make my two young kids sit on the side of the road so I could run in circles up and down my cul-de-sac to get my mileage in. Luckily those days are behind me.
Purdy’s Wharf Fitness Club came into play when I was looking for something to help me improve my running. Everything I read indicated that I should incorporate strength training and yoga. In my busy life, I didn’t see how it was possible and continue to run five times a week. I tried to work out at home with weights and had a program for yoga for runners. I had some success, but I didn’t love it and found excuses did not to do it enough to make a difference in my running. Then, a co-worker and I were talking about yoga and that it was offered at PWFC at various times. Something she said peaked my interest and I signed up at PWFC the next day. It took me a couple of years to finally get to a yoga class – but the strength training grabbed a hold of me right away. It had the perfect combination of challenge and making progress. And I could get the job done, during the work day. Which was key for me. PWFC is so convenient and it is rare for me to get there and not be able to do the program I scheduled for the day due to over-crowding or equipment being unavailable. And I really like that it is open 7 days a week all year. Gives me options on those occasions when work meetings/appointments take precedence. What more could you ask for.
I really appreciate the fact that PWFC is very responsive to their members’ feedback. I’m sure I am not the only person to think that it is nice to be heard. All the new equipment that we have in the main gym room is amazing – much of it was on my wish list – pull up bar, landmine, high and low steps. Of course it is the combo of equipment plus great staff that puts PWFC on the map for me. Gyms in general are often described as intimidating. PWFC has the right formula to avoid having that reputation. Information is so accessible. I had belonged to other gyms in the past – mostly doing cardio classes and step classes for that reason. I wish I had been introduced to the weight room back then, not at age 51.
Greg set me up with my first strength program and I followed that for some time, all the while reading about form and programming and how women can get strong.
I remember enjoying the gym experience but being frustrated with seeing progress and talking to Greg about it. He explained the theory behind warm up sets, working sets and rest periods which I never knew. He also explained the importance of tracking my workouts – writing everything down – exercises, sets, reps. It’s a great tool to maximize time in the gym. Takes the guess work out of it and doesn’t waste time. And for me it is great for motivation. I also credit Dominic with making my workouts better simply because now I do a dynamic warm up and I drink water during my workout. Which I didn’t do consistently before. Stretching afterwards is still a work in progress, I admit. Dominic also emailed lots of useful and easy to implement information about nutrition for the benefit of training and the importance of rest days between certain workouts. He also gave me workouts to do outside of our sessions which complemented what we did together. I still follow the principles of these, specifically about incorporating strength and endurance days.
I was only able to progress so far on my own. Then I took advantage of the free personal training session that PWF offers everyone to soften the blow of getting another year older. I worked with Dominic for that session and I was dying by the end of it. He pushed me and encouraged me and I got so much out of one hour. And I asked him if he could help me with my deadlifting, since I was stalled with my progress. Dom likes deadlifting and lifting heavy and so it was a good fit for me. I was never stronger than when we worked together. He helped me improve my form and set up. He helped me to learn how to get ready mentally to lift heavy weight (Get angry!). Because I could psyche myself out too often. Also, if the pinched nerve in my shoulder was acting up, or my knee was weak and achy, he would always find alternative exercises to accommodate how I was feeling on that day. He taught me I didn’t have to stop training. Just training differently. And probably best of all, he showed me what progress was (not always a higher weight), to learn patience and be consistent.
Dom was also the reason I had the most fun ever at PWF! When he asked me if I was interested in joining the small group personal training (LIFT) two days a week with Jen Publicover and Jane Richardson, it was the best thing ever! For eight weeks, it was the perfect combination of pushing limits to lift heavy, the spirit of friendly competition and inspiration in watching other strong women kick butt. We all finished up with a deadlift PR and improved strength all around, thanks to Dom’s help.
And even though I am not working with Dominic one on one any longer, I feel comfortable asking him questions or asking to look at my form any time. He readily offers his expertise. And watching his own workouts at Purdy’s inspire me further.
When I hear about the long term members at the gym, I am still a newcomer with three years under my belt. But today, at 54 years old, I can say joining PWFC and focusing on strength training has been the best thing I could have done to improve my physical health and strength, my mental health and tackle the uphill battle of the aging process. I love everything about it. I never like to miss a day of training and I look forward to it. It’s never a bad day at the gym, even when I’m feeling weak and tired. I always leave feeling better. In fact I used to have such a problem dealing with stress and pressure inside and outside work for many years. Since having the option to join PWFC and getting out the office in the middle of the work day to work out, it is significant and noticeable that stress is rarely an ongoing concern for me any longer, which is something I never thought I would ever say. And so that’s the reason I tell anyone who asks, that strength training is the answer to their problems.
Thanks to Tammy, Greg and Dominic for help with the journey.