Below is an account I wrote during the first two days of my fitness program with Tracie Long at Long Training Studios. To read what lead me into this insanity, click here.
The night before my first workout at the studio, I sent Tracie pictures of my neighborhood gym so she could see what type of equipment I would be able to make use of on my own. She also reminded that we wouldn't need much at first since most of the exercises would be utilizing my own body weight. This was good news since I had plenty of that work with.
The next afternoon, I headed over to 145 St. Phillips Street for my first session. Aside from being put at ease by my familiarity with Tracie, I also really liked the feel of the studio. It had lots of space and equipment/various amenities, but also managed to not be the typical gym studio model that resembles an over-sized European dance club.
We began with some basic foam roll exercises and stretches. Despite the fact that these were designed to simply be a warm up, I was already sweating and beginning to breathe heavily. After resting for a minute, we went through a series of different exercises that were designed to work my legs and my core. Tracie also tested me for my range of motion (terrible), strength (embarrassingly terrible), and flexibility (worse than a rusted iron rod).
Tracie also stressed that developing mobility and flexibility was also very important. Our main goal wasn't just weight loss, but also to help me feel better. The "feel better" part, however, was definitely something that was going be felt in the future.She wouldn't let me give up early or cheat on repetitions like I often (and desperately) wanted to. When I was working out by myself, I could easily justify that I had "done my best" and stop. Tracie, on the other hand, was having absolutely none of that.
Another thing I noticed (besides my desire to pass out) was how different this workout felt. Even back when I was in shape, leg and ab/core exercises had always felt very light compared to the days I did upper body work. But today I was feeling muscles awaken to scream "WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?!" that I hadn't felt in many years.
We finally finished off the session with some upper body exercises. I then struggled to hide my desire to collapse onto the floor while Tracie explained that she would email me a work out program I could add to the weight lifting and cardio I was doing at my neighborhood gym.
But although I hurt everywhere and was completely exhausted, I actually felt...good. Even when I was in shape I hadn't been able to work my core and lower body like we just had; now I felt like there was a real plan in place to help push me towards getting back to being healthy again and beyond.
I drove back to my neighborhood gym in Mount Pleasant and did some cardio. My body promptly responded by passing out in bed way too early for a Saturday night.
After a very long hot shower to help ease my muscles back into being able to move, I headed to the gym and lifted weights followed by some intervaled cardio.
Later that day, Tracie's family had me over to their house for a cookout. Once we were doing eating, everyone headed down to their neighborhood dock to watch the sunset. I sat by the lake and talked a while with Tracie's husband, John (who is also a good friend and a fitness instructor), about how far I'd fallen from my earlier fitness benchmarks and abilities.
"That stuff's stupid," he said. "Don't worry about how much you can lift or how much you weigh. Just work out and start feeling better."
Keep in mind that he was saying this to me while sitting comfortably by the river with his shirt off and looking far more ripped than a man his age has any business being. When I sit down with my shirt off, it makes the surrounding area instantly resemble Jabba's palace.
But I got what he was saying. The goal was good health, not some arbitrary number or benchmark (although if I could be in as good a shape as John is, I'd wouldn't mind that one bit.)
As the sun set behind Shem Creek, I was able to put aside the depressive fog I had been in lately and finally experienced a glimmer of optimism and thankfulness. I already have a wonderful wife and family, but I also realized just how lucky I was to have friends in my life like this that wanted to help me...even if one of them was making me doing exercises that caused my butt muscles to feel like they were on fire.
If you want to cheer Tracie on while she kicks my butt on a weekly basis, you can find her on Twitter. If you live in the Charleston area and would like to have your butt kicked into shape like mine has been, then take a moment and check out the Long Training Studios website.
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