Starting high school is difficult, especially when you’re a new student at your first experience at a public school. It’s terrifying enough to have every fiber in your body shaking, it truly was for me. Confusion, horror, anxiety, doubt, nausea, excitement, hope: they were all blasting through my body September 8, 2015, my first day of school at Sweet Home. Little did I know that one of the many rooms that I got lost between would be the one to change my life forever.
It’s the room that only the jocks go into, the other species to be more specific. The room that almost every female feared and most people didn’t want to see. The Fitness Center. I admired those who had enough confidence to go in their to shape up their bodies and improve their overall health and strength. It was October of my freshman year, my gym class had a mandatory unit in there.
Little did I know that within a few short months from my walking into that room, my life would change forever from just within those four walls. Though I did occasionally go after that unit, it was only for cardio. It wasn’t until January 31st, 2017 where my life changing career really began to take shape. After watching others become better versions of themselves in that room, I decided to take the risk of finally going into that ever fearful room. I’m glad I did because that was the greatest decision I’ve ever made!
Weightlifting subjects girls to controversy and unkind words. However, my determination for improvement drove all the doubt away. Other factors came into playas well, but the weight room itself is what created it all. When people think of a gym they think of shaping their bodies, but little do they know that through the hard work in there, they’re actually shaping up their lives as well.
“It’s all about discipline, ‘no pain, no gain.'”
It’s all about discipline, “no pain, no gain.” A large panther is painted right above the mirrors lifting a dumbbell with the phrase. May 2017 was the first time I’d ever used heavy weights: it was painful and awkward. Every fiber in me was screaming to get out and run on the treadmill, but I did not. Have courage, they always said.
I remember my first time squatting, second period during gym class where I finally decided to break the barrier between weights and I. While it may be embarrassing asking my teacher “how do I squat with the weights?”, that is what courage is all about. Despite the embarrassment that I felt, my body kept wanting to do more, go further. I ended up adding squatting to my workout routine everyday, including after school. Funny how earlier I needed help squatting the bar alone (45 lbs) or even 65 lbs, while I am able to do 4 times that amount now! Once again, it all goes back to consistency and discipline. Most people give up after a while. It’s the main reason why no results are seen. Of course, there are other factors such as nutrition. Even then, nutrition is all based on the self control that many lack: never taking it in consideration along their plan of achieving their goal. That’s what Sweet Home Fitness taught me.
The fitness center is the most vulnerable place in the school, everyone is trying to act as if they know what they’re doing when in reality they’re just as scared as everyone else. That room is where you have to put your ego to the side and admit you’re human; admit that you have flaws, you have mistakes, you’re still learning like everyone else. Ego has no place in there, only courage.
Going into the fitness center felt like home, despite certain looks, everyone was willing to help because they themselves had been there too. No one starts out perfect. I walked in afraid and lost with no clue of what to do except the goal “I want to have a nice body” never the thought of actually gaining muscles. High school sucks and brings a multitude of emotions, working out was my destresser. It took my mind somewhere far away that only I existed in. All my burdens and problems vanished, leaving me alone to face the soreness in my body. Nothing else mattered but the one task of pushing up, everything else around me didn’t exist for that brief moment. It’s a feeling so inexplicable; after all you can never truly ever explain something so incredible like love.
I remember February 22nd 2017, my dad took me out to what is now my favorite place to go for a run. “When life is complicated, run. Because in that blur everything will make sense and you’ll comprehend it.” I’ll forever remember that day because it made life so much more understandable. After that, working out became an outlet from life, emotions, and all the overwhelming things everyone may deal with. Soon my whole life rotated around it: whether it was running at midnight, leaving class to hit the rack, bursting into hit midway through the day, or spending my break doing sit ups.
“When life is complicated, run. Because in that blur everything will make sense”
I ran. I ran away from the struggles of life. I ran away from the stress of my AP classes. I ran away from getting stabbed in the back by someone who revealed that they are not in fact yellow, but raging red. I ran away away from getting told I’m not good enough. I ran away from a smiling face who was only trying to figure out my weak spots, so that they could punch me where it stings the most later on. I ran away from feeling I wasn’t good enough. I ran away from sexual harassment. I ran away from falling in love with someone who did nothing but hurt and hurt me over and over again. I ran away from forgiving people who clearly didn’t deserve a second chance. I ran away from getting told I will never make it. I ran away from regret and all the mistakes I made. I ran away from it all and kept running even when my body was begging for a break.
In the blur of the run, everything began to makes sense, and I felt numb. Not only did it take my mind to somewhere peaceful and far, but I no longer felt the throbbing of my aching heart. When I discovered the beauty of power lifting, I began to incorporate it in my daily routine. My life revolved around trying to get a better form, adding more weights, getting in more reps, improving my set etc. I found beauty within going to the gym. Sweat was my trophy and, as crazy as it sounds, I began to actually like the feeling of soreness, it’s my satisfaction.
Working out became my entire life because the program itself was life. When people think of the gym, they think of getting bigger or losing weight. Some might think of practicing for a sport. They however don’t realize that within that room, they are getting ready for life. Once again, it’s about discipline, and without discipline life would fail: there wouldn’t be any success. Through discipline I practically forced myself to put on my sneakers and push through the days of I don’t want to go to the fitness center.
Because of that, my grades began to improve regardless of my thinking “I don’t want to study” due to discipline and forcing myself and the chapter was soon finished and my grades on my exams prove it all. Just like soreness, the high grade brought satisfaction as well. School is not the only thing this concept relates to but having a job as well. The days where one does not simply want to go to work due to a minor flu, yet due to discipline the employee attends with the check being their satisfaction.
I discover in all those times I would push the bar up or run the last few minutes, I can get through any obstacle life throws at me. I still remember the morning of my grandmother’s funeral, I sat on the end of the bed thinking there’s no way I can go back in her home, no way I can watch her go 6 feet below the ground. My mind took me to the time I wanted to squat 225 while my knees were screaming in pain; I pushed and pushed with all my force until I was standing high, the bar straight on my back. That room prepares everyone in it for the real hardships of life because “no pain is no gain.”
“this room is the room to change lives”
Looking back at my fitness journey, I can proudly stand tall and say I’ve done it. While there is still a lot more to learn and competition to crush, I have gone against the odds. Against my fear of my idea of what I thought the fitness center was. Against fear of judgment. Against fear of failure. Sweet Home Fitness felt welcoming and it gave a chance to everyone to improve their overall health. They encouraged their students to join, they were willing to help. One of the greatest values it held was the lessons given during gym about the fitness center. The teacher would speak about how
this room is the room to change lives , it would always be motivating and eye opening, no doubt. I recall those times and think that Sweet Home High School should truly incorporate the fitness center unit as a mandatory class for all grade levels throughout high school.
The fitness center does indeed change lives. It’s funny how that intimidating room that I once thought was a nightmare became home and a place I will never ever forget for the rest of my life. As my last couple months of high school come to an end, I can proudly say I have found my passion. I am living my dream. The fitness center brings people together, it connects one to their soul and it defines life. And to Sweet Home Fitness, I say thank you. Thank you so much for being the one place that anyone can go to, turn their perspective, and become a better person.