After my first night at Training Valley, I walked home and was greeted by our youngest son. He wanted to know if “it” was gone. By “it” he meant my belly, the most visible piece of evidence of years of bad decisions. He was disappointed at first, but after some laughs and explanations he began to slightly adjust his expectations. Now he’s giving me until the end of the year.
January will come and go and I still won’t have that six pack he’s hoping for, but hopefully I will have made a lot of progress. That first night, I was covered in sweat after just 10 minutes of 100 watt bliss aboard the Airdyne. If you’re not familiar with the last word, just google “unassuming stationary bike suitable for simulating travel through the valley of the shadow of death.” Two months later, however, 10 minutes is just the halfway point. The death and the shadows are still there, of course, but it’s becoming more bearable.
After stumbling off the Airdyne that first night, Ryan got me started with a few rounds of simple kettlebell swings and bench squats. The first few rounds weren’t that bad. By the third or fourth round, I began to question my abilities to do the basics like breathe, or count. Two months later on a Monday night Ryan sent me a message that I would be working out with the class. I was getting the call up to the big leagues. I was headed for the deep end of the pool. I was leaving the kiddie table behind. I was finally tall enough to ride the roller coaster. I was delusional.
The workout that night was 100 kettlebell swings for time with the wicked little catch that after the first minute you had to do 5 burpees every minute on the minute. I was doing 80 instead of 100, and doing barbell pushups instead of burpees. Nine minutes and forty-seven seconds later I questioned my abilities to make sound decisions. Who moved my cheesecake? What had I gotten myself into? Who were all these people I had surrounded myself with?
A few of them have the six pack abs my son thinks I should have by now. Many of them don’t. Most of them are average people who put forth above-average effort week in and week out. All of them provide an extraordinary amount of encouragement and inspiration to this fat, sweaty, wheezing blob of a man who is fighting desperately to get his health back. I seriously don’t know if I could do it without them.
As I mentioned previously, I’m just getting started and have a long way to go. One of the most helpful things thus far has been the community at Training Valley. I won’t lie to you and tell you that it wasn’t intimidating walking in there the first time. I still get butterflies in my stomach each time I start to walk across the road. But I can tell you that I’ve never felt more at home in a gym. Ryan and Daniel work hard to ensure that everything is scaled to a level that is appropriate. Which is to say, I can finish it but not without getting the idea that it might finish me. All of the other members of the community are nothing but amazing. No matter where you are on the fitness continuum, they will welcome you and accept you, but will push you to go further.
In the past two months, I’ve learned that I can do a great number of things I had convinced myself were out of reach. I can’t wait to see how many more of those myths I bust over the next few months. I can’t say for sure how close I will ever get to my son’s goal for me. I can say, however, with great certainty that one of the keys to the small successes I am having now is this community. If you don’t have one, find one.