I was a 36 year old full-timer, wife, and mom. By 2015, I couldn’t get up off the floor without rolling over on my hands and knees. I was wearing a size 20 and trying hard to still feel beautiful.
I went to weight loss surgery seminars. I saw a therapist. I took phentermine. I thought about hiring a trainer…again.
The last time I had a trainer was before my high school reunion. I dropped a dramatic amount of weight, working out 2 hours a day and eating fat free cottage cheese with Splenda. Yuck. It took me less than a year to gain it back.
I decided to take the financial plunge and hire a trainer again, but this time I was unwilling to begin some impossible routine. So I made a commitment: I would exercise one day every week for a year. Some trainers wouldn’t agree to a plan like this, but I found one. I hired Liron.
She told me my goal couldn’t be to lose weight or I would fail. “You have to find something you love.” I didn’t believe her for a second. I knew I hated exercise.
But I do like to talk, and Liron was both knowledgeable and interesting. I also found out I like to drag large bags of sand behind me. It feels like you’re accomplishing something. So every week she came to my house and we dragged sand and practiced standing up off my ottoman.
Then it came…the day I had made enough progress to start really lifting. Liron put me under the barbell, and, at the end of the session, she said with authority: “you were born to lift.”
Guess what? I was. My one day of exercise per week turned into three. I couldn’t wait to get under the bar. I had found something I loved.
I was born to lift.
I told you this was a love story, and it’s not just mine. Liron started talking about this guy she met, Joel. She started to look different, kind of glowy all the time. “He owns a gym,” she told me. Next thing I knew, there was a wedding, then a baby shower, then Liron was busy mommying and I was training with Joel at Freedom Fit.
I was nervous about the change. Of course, I’ve been to a new gym before. I know what a gym is like. There are saunas, tanning beds, and unapproachable trainers strutting around in designer gear. You can’t sweat on the machines without guiltily carrying around a bottle of disinfectant with you. You’d better not make too much noise working out, and if you want to talk, don’t, because no one there will ever bother getting to know you. Oh, and trust me—the music is going to be terrible.
Freedom Fit was completely different.
Today, I love going to Freedom Fit Gym. It’s my Cheers, a place where everyone knows my name. When I walk in, Joel turns the music to the Angry Women of the 90s. My latest personal records are written on the wall, and I check it out to see what my friends have accomplished that week.
I have gym friends there. These are not friends I brought to the gym, but friends I met at the gym. These friends are real, the kind who dig up Rose of Sharon from their yards for you when you say you wish you had some and the kind who notice when your triceps are poppin’ or if you haven’t been coming in. There are monthly get togethers and holiday parties. Joel creates an atmosphere of comradery, challenge, and possibility. It’s the kind of place where people smile at each other.
While I was nervous about the change, it turned out to be a sentinel event. With Freedom Fit, I finally found a fitness home and my true reason to train for the rest of my life.
In 2015 I weighed 255 pounds. Yesterday, I grabbed a barbell and lifted 255 pounds.
Because of Joel, Liron, and Freedom Fit, I have accomplished more than I believed possible. When I started exercising again my goal was to lose weight. Today my goal is to lift weight.
When I half-jokingly said I wanted to compete back in 2016, Joel took the dream and ran. The next thing I knew I was working a program with his Freedom Team and we were going to Philadelphia.
I would have laughed if someone told me that at 38 years old I would be finishing a Powerlifting Meet, tears rolling down my face after hitting two personal records in the first competitive sporting event of my entire life. But there I was, sobbing. Joel took my fitness goals to a level beyond my imagination. I am so thankful.
I felt like a celebrity when I got back. Literally everyone at the gym came up to congratulate me. I was hooked, and I truly felt strong and beautiful.
Today, I am working on my second program. I actually can’t wait to get to the gym. I watch what I eat, not to lose weight, but to make sure I have enough energy for my lifting days!
My romance with fitness is far from over: I’d like to increase my cardiovascular endurance, to do a couple of pull ups, and to pistol squat. I’d like to drop a weight class instead of a dress size.
When you see me at Freedom Fit, you, me, and Joel can work on these goals together. It’s way more fun to have someone to talk to between sets, anyway. I hope to see you there. "
** Since this writing, R.K. grabbed a barbell and lifted 275 pounds… while having won 1st place in her weightclass and having lost almost 80 pounds since 2015.**