FitnessPhobic No More

I recently started exercising.

My kids and I spend every day at the Fox Point pool all summer. ALL DAY. We love it not only because we Olsons are part amphibian, but we take friends, my kids take swim lessons, and there's nothing better than the hot sun on your shoulders and flip-flops on your feet. I would wear chlorine as perfume if it were available. I'm not joshing you. 

The pool is where I met Marcela. I'd seen her there all summer, but I was too busy gnawing on Twizzlers, guzzling Diet Coke, diving off the diving board, and rounding up my kids and whatever friends they'd brought along to talk with her. Plus, she was crazy-fit. I mean SERIOUSLY fit. Athletic people scared me and made me all the more aware of how athletic I was not. But one day we started talking about weight loss (I'd recently lost 20 pounds with Weight Watchers), and she asked what I was doing for fitness. I made a joke (that's what I do when I'm nervous) and said I didn't have time.

One evening in late September we were talking, and she invited me to attend one of her Crossfit 100 classes. I said "Sure, sure. Maybe I'll see you there." But later that evening I couldn't get it out of my mind. I made the decision to attend the class the next morning (Callie and Henry would be at school and Abe at preschool, so I couldn't even use my kids as an excuse!!!) and I put it on Facebook that I was trying it. I have way too much pride to have to admit "Well, I didn't try the class; I was really busy drinking diet cokes and eating bagels at the bookstore while Abe was at preschool."

Tuesday morning I was actually nervous. Like, queasy nervous. So I ate a huge breakfast (that's also what I do when I'm nervous).

Marcela and the other students greeted me warmly and immediately made me comfortable (well, as comfortable as I could be while wearing tight yoga pants in public, anyhow). We started with three rounds of some basics: jumping jacks, lunges, etc). I thought Oh. My. Gosh. This is a SERIOUS workout. When the first person completed the rounds Marcela started us stretching, and I thought Oh. This is gonna be a nice cool-down after that hard workout.


I thought What the h*ll is going on here? I thought we were DONE. I can't remember what exactly we did that first day (no two workouts are ever the same), but I remember quite well that I had to sit with my head between my knees a few times, and my legs were so wobbly on the way home that I wasn't sure it was safe to drive. I was so sore the next morning my kids had to get their own rain boots out of the basement because I couldn't walk down the stairs. 

You have to remember that I'd NEVER exercised. NEVER. In college I did aerobics with the girls from my dorm, but that was just so we'd be cute for frat parties or whatever. I always comforted myself with Oh, you're a book person, not a workout person. (I also comforted myself with cookies, but whatever). I was someone with NO muscle tone whatsoever (in my defense: I did have three babies in four years), and I jumped head-first into a pretty serious exercise class. Marcela did modify things for beginners and made them more intense for really advanced people, but I had too much pride to wimp out. So I tried my hardest.

I couldn't even do a sit-up during those first weeks. I couldn't jog around the block without walking 3/4 of it. But then a classmate would high-five me and yell "You can do it! Keep going!!" I felt so much warmth, camaraderie and encouragement from everyone, and I kept hearing Marcela in my head telling me: Everybody has to start somewhere. Slowly but surely I gained strength and stamina and was so thrilled I did a little dance of triumph when I moved from the 8-pound weights to the 10-pound weights. I did have to start somewhere, but I started. And I keep going.

So that was October. Now it's mid-March, and I'm very proud to say that I can rock 50 sit-ups holding a 15-pound weight above my head. I can jog around the block without stopping. I have muscles I never knew existed, I feel (and look) better, and I have collarbones (Who knew?). My baby Abraham does wall-walks up and down our hallway. Huggins and Abe drag out my yoga mat and play "exercise class." Callie recently suggested that we do laps when the pool opens this summer (she truly IS my daughter). I cannot imagine skipping class, and if I'm really stressed-out, the first thing I think is I need to see if there's an opening in class today. I NEED to workout.   

It's a long and sometimes painful journey (mostly in my quads and glutes), but I'm beginning to suspect that there's an athlete hidden somewhere inside of me, and she's trying really, really hard to get out.

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Sarah Worthman March 13, 2012 at 04:44 PM
I think this sounds so friggin' awesome! However, I worked out with the help of some friends once and felt real sick after, like you described. Why do you keep going back when the first time was so insane? I kinda' want to try it, but it sounds like I'd pass out, lol.
Julie Olson March 13, 2012 at 05:11 PM
Sarah, I came VERY close to fainting a few times during the first class. I also threw up on my way home, which was pretty sexy. To be perfectly honest, I think I kept going back because I couldn't disappoint Marcela. She's a very motivating and spirited person, and I couldn't bear the idea that she would think I was a quitter. In my defense, though, at first I was reluctant to commit to class every tuesday and Thursday morning because I haven't had Sweet Freedom during the day in SEVEN YEARS. The mere idea of having Callie and Henry at school AND Abe at preschool with 2.5 hours of Sweet, Sweet Freedom in front of me was something I wasn't ready to give up. However, I knew how Marcela felt about excuses, and I reluctantly admitted to myself that I was just making excuses. It was time to man up, commit to something and see it through. I don't want my children growing up thinking that a fun evening involves ordering a pizza, watching tv and doing crossword puzzles (although I DO still love crossword puzzles). I want them to know that it's important to feel the exhilaration of breathing hard, of sweat dripping off your forehead, of running 'til your legs are shaking. I want them to know that while we Olsons ARE book people, we're ALSO athletes. THAT'S what keeps me going back.
Mom to 2 awesome kids! March 14, 2012 at 02:28 PM
nice job! I used to work out in the am, my preferred time of day, but now that I'm back working it doesn't fit in to the schedule. Frustrating! Maybe someday I'll get back to it...Keep up the good work Julie!
Jean Bernstein March 14, 2012 at 09:41 PM
One of my favorite parts is "We are book people and we're ALSO athletes." That is so great! I'm so proud of you and your accomplishments!


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