January 25, 2010, was such a milestone for me. Truly! It was my first day of training – EVER. Real exercise for the first time in my life – with a real deal personal coach. “Wow!” was all I can say at that moment. Who knew exercise could be fun?! Am I even saying that out loud? I have witnessed the physical changes of several friends and associates who train at EarthFIT and wanted to learn more. Up until this point, my exercise routine has been sporadic at best and consisted of moderate 2 to 3 mile walks. Given the constant media attention to weight loss, I am aware that regular exercise is a vital component of healthy living, but I just didn’t know how to put it into practice for myself.  As I enter my 35th year, I have decided to take the leap that many others before me have done, and just…begin.

I admit I was anxious about signing up for EarthFIT’s Fat-to-Fit weight loss contest because I didn’t know what to expect. All I knew was that I had to enter into its group training one way or another to participate, and so I did! So many thoughts have been swirling in my head about what exercises I’d be doing, could I handle it, would I look “a-fool,” and so on. When I arrived bright and early Monday morning (there are other times, folks, don’t worry, this just worked with my schedule), I found Ian Hart, the owner, preparing the circuit training for the group. As it turned out, that first day I was sharing the class with someone I was acquainted with and I felt instantly at ease knowing the workouts weren’t full of shock jocks, but with people I could identify with. I enjoyed being in the workout room with pastel walls and huge picture windows. And the music! He had us jiving to Prince, Journey, old school Michael Jackson and some pop, upbeat tempo tunes. We started out with a warm-up routine. My heart started pumping quickly, but in that ‘hey, I’m here’ and ‘time to get your body moving’ kind of way.  Then we did a series of eight circuit training exercises which incorporated every part of the body.  At one point, I was checking myself out in the mirror while holding my abs in, back to the wall in a sitting position, feeling the burn through my leg muscles and I was grooving to the music making disco hand gestures. Dancing in my exercise class and having fun doing it; this is certainly a new concept for me. Workout = Fun. Myth buster alert!

I felt the most awkward during this one routine where I had to put my arms in these straps and jog forward and back with my knees up. Classic! I was jumping up and down, running forward, trying to remember ‘knees up’ and watching myself in the mirror. I laughed at how I must look like a mad jogger trying to flag down the person who just stole my purse! However, that same routine was intense enough and compelled me to use every moving muscle in my body to keep on jogging and it got my heart and blood pumping. All I can say is thank goodness no one is in that room handing out style points. Ian was just there gently advising on tips to improve upon my motions.

At one point in the workout, we were lying on the floor, facing out, doing a series of stretches, which might have been my favorite part! Those movements helped relieve the stress built up in my body. Then, while lying on the floor mat, I looked up to watch the rapid movement of storm clouds across the sky.  Just for a moment, my mind was transfixed on those clouds and their slow motion helped me to focus on my breathing and just relax into it all. The most important lesson I learned thus far in training was how to incorporate my mind and intention into the movements. When I focused on the particular body part I was working at any given moment, I felt more in tune with how my body was behaving and adapting to these new changes in rhythm. In years past, when I have been mindlessly walking on a treadmill checking out the cable show right in front of me, headphones cranked, I paid no attention to my heart beat or the speed and incline of my walk. I was just going through the motions to get it done and crossed off the list so that I could say I walked on the treadmill for 30 minutes that day.

This week I have felt welcome, confident, empowered and unembarrassed to make that circuit workout my own.  Attending this group personal training session allowed me to be social with others and enabled me to share in the workout experience and celebrate my accomplishments with the group at the end of that powerful hour. I know the soreness in my legs and abs will be coming on like a freight train as this first week of training continues. However, I’ll take the friendly, perhaps slightly painful, reminders and celebrate the fact that I am actually doing this for myself. I look forward to taking this journey toward safe, balanced health with the gracious and expert guidance from EarthFIT.

Tips from the Trainer

Ian Hart

Leslie mentioned 3 things that I’d like to touch on:

Most people feel awkward when it’s their first time training. But they soon find out that it’s something they should have never held off on. That insecurity quickly goes away and lives are changed forever.

Working out to music can be a really great source of motivation, as long as it’s not a distraction. Many people anesthetize their workouts with IPods and TV, but it’s very important for people to focus their minds on every movement when working out. Your mind sends the signal to contract your muscles, but if you are not completely focused you will not send a strong message. Therefore, you will activate your muscle less and not get the full benefit of the exercise. Focus on the right muscle for each movement – this will enhance results dramatically.

Resistance training is key to boosting your metabolism. The metabolism can be revved up by 40 percent after roughly one year of consistent training where as your metabolism will decrease about 10 percent per year with inactivity. Nutrition alone will never get the long-term results that people desire. It is a mix of proper nutrition, resistance training, cardio and accountability and motivation from the right trainer.

“Aim Higher. Train Smarter. Live EarthFIT.” 31-A Market, Beaufort, SC, 1-800-718-7FIT, www.earthfitnessgym.com