Let's be very clear -- I adore working out. I love pushing myself past the mental boundaries I seem to have all around me. I love sweating, the ache of exhaustion, the knowledge that I have pushed myself farther than I ever believed I could go. I don't require more reward than seeming my body tone up and feeling my mind ease away from my worrying spot.
Working out has always done this for me. A few years ago, when I first stepped up to a treadmill and tentatively pressed the "Go, but please don't kill me," button, I was a mix of every emotion you can imagine. Scared, embarrassed, eager to make a change in my life, hopeful. So I kept slogging my way through, minute after minute - increasing my puny few seconds I could handle running to a full minute, then two, three, ten minutes - all the while chanting to myself that I was stronger than the world had led me to believe. Several months later, about fifty pounds slimmer, the treadmill had lost its charm. I had conquered the elusive ability to run, and so I turned to the only other thing I could think of.
Weights. Now here was a challenge I could sink my teeth into. Just me and my trainer, eye to eye. She threw down a challenge, I answered it and asked for more. It only took a few months before the results were fueling my addiction. Toned, strong, slim: I loved my new athletic body. I felt stronger every week, pushed myself further at every workout. The fulfilment seemed limitless - every time the routine became easy, we added more weights and I was sweating and straining all over again.
I loved the solitary actions of running and lifting weights. Once I slipped my earbuds on and started my playlist, it was just me against the world. During these workout sessions, I worked through all the things that ate away at me throughout the day. For one hour each day, I was alone, undefeated, a champion.
Group exercise is an entirely different story. I've tried it before -- huffing and puffing to an aerobics beat in the back of the class, awkwardly tying myself into knots in yoga class, practicing perfection in pilates, all the while not making eye contact with anyone. Not really sure if I fit in with the group, no clue how to start up a conversation, not wanting anyone to spend the next hour chatting me up while I'm trying to concentrate on my form. Social exercise was a hard thing for me to buy into.
So what have I done? Signed up for a 4 week bootcamp, of course! A coworker mentioned the Groupon deal for Camp Gladiator, and the deal was just too good to pass up. Plus, I've been in a slump for so long that if doctors had been trying to revive me, they would have toe-tagged me long ago. Since my friend was going, and I really needed to do something, I agreed. Group workouts are probably different now, I told myself, anxiously reading and rereading the company website.
With each day, our first camp session drew closer, and my stomach grew more unstable. I doubted myself. I questioned my sanity. I argued all the reasons why this would never work out.
Finally, the day arrived. I gathered all my gear, braving the frigid temperatures, and headed to meet Tracy at her house. We managed to get her two kids fed, find her sneakers, and get out the door with just enough time to make it to the downtown Fort Worth location on time! I was still nervous, but having a friend with me was a new experience and I was actually looking forward to our workout. We headed straight for the address of the bootcamp.
Except, no one was there. In fact, the soccer fields we were supposed to meet at were not even there. We tried a nearby soccer field that she thought might be it. No lights, no people. We drove around, cussing and fussing for the next thirty minutes trying to figure out where this elusive bootcamp could be hiding. Tracy checked the website again and lo and behold, the address of the soccer fields had changed! She flipped a quick U-turn and we were on our way!
It was cold, impossible to see, and an insane rush of activity for the next 30 minutes. Our trainer, Stacy, threw us into separate teams for the group games, and without much of an introduction we were running, lunging, hopping, mountain climbing, grunting, and sweating in the darkness surrounded by strangers we could barely see. Every time we finished a round, we threw a Popsicle stick in a red container. Once our team had all the sticks in the cup, we were given the great blessing of moving onto our next exercise! The first team to complete all the circuits won for the night. We cheered each other on; wanting to win! It was intense. It was hard. And I loved every minute of it.
I can't wait to go back tonight.