I was 44 and hadn’t legitimately exercised in over 20 years. My friends refer to this stage of my life as “John 1.0″. My weight creeped up on me and my fitness level slowly fell to an unimaginable low. One day I ran up a flight of stairs to get my jacket, and at the top of the stairs I had to stop and catch my breath for about 30 seconds before I could continue. Over the years I had wanted to lose weight, and had numerous failed attempts to exercise on my own.
I had two basic problems. First, I viewed working out as a vanity project. I would tell myself, “I don’t really need to work out because people like me for who I am. Sure, I want to work out so I can look better and do all that healthy jibber-jabber people talk about, but in the end I have great friends and generally enjoy myself… fitness, schmitness, I’ll get around to it one day, I got other stuff I gotta do right now.”
Secondly, I didn’t know how to work out or stay motivated. I figured if I bought Perfect Pushups my pushups would be, well, perfect! Total gym was definitely a “total gym”, and Chuck Norris makes it look so easy to be fit. Christie Brinkley, now there’s some motivation! Fitness DVDs, just watch a video for 20 minutes a day and voila! Of course, as soon as any of it got hard and I had the smallest of excuses or distractions, it was off to Trader Joe’s to get some healthy yogurt pretzels.
Enter “John 2.0” It was a book that finally flipped a switch in my head and gave me a real motivation to work out. It explained how our bodies are designed to store fat and shed muscle mass when we’re sedentary so we can survive famines and long winters. When it’s time to hunt and gather, our bodies can build muscle and improve our immune system simply by “hard work”. It’s a use it or lose it scenario, and as we get older the hormones that cause atrophy increase. Exercise is the hard work we need to keep our bodies strong, fit, and healthy. Our bodies are very adaptable, and the book explained that we can live a much higher quality of life long into our golden years if we put in the exercise needed. Exercise finally made sense to me, and I was motivated to invest in my future enjoyment of life by achieving and maintaining fitness.
I still didn’t know how to get fit, and knew I couldn’t do it on my own. Driving by Taix Studio one day I saw the banner “Extreme Bootcamp Orientation this Saturday, 8am”. That was it, I was ready to commit. Orientation was a huge eye-opener. I “tested in” and was delighted to find out I could do 10 whole pushups, 14 sit-ups, and “run” a mile in under 15 minutes! My arms and legs were sore the rest of the weekend, but what else could I expect from such a valiant effort.
Monday morning, 6am, I was able to fake a few of the exercises during the warm up so that people thought I was one of the gang. Then, off for a quick run. I jogged a block and a half before I had to stop, completely exhausted, and walk the rest of the way. But, the boot camp instructors were very supportive. They encouraged without intimidating, and motivated without humiliating. They knew I had a very long way to go, and made me feel like I could get there, one small step at a time.
My fellow boot campers were also very encouraging. One in particular could see that I was struggling and told me that if I just do the best I can and keep showing up, I’d see results. He was right on; after 6 weeks I doubled my pushups, more than doubled my sit-ups, and took more than a minute off my mile. Going through a tough fitness program with others builds a camaraderie that makes class fun and instills accountability. “Have a nice day. See you tomorrow!” someone would say. “Uhh, yeah, ummm, sure. See you tomorrow?” I would reply. And really, it worked! I’ve stuck with it for 6 years now. Wow, six years. In that time I’ve steadily increased my fitness level to the point that I can do 85 push-ups, 90+ sit-ups, and run a mile just under 8 minutes. I went from being barely able to run a block and a half, to completing 2 half marathons.
I have also learned how to eat healthier, and the combined effort of diet and exercise has enabled me to lose about 50 pounds to become “John 3.0”. John 2.0 exercised every day, but still ate large quantities of sugar. Instructor James told me “You can’t outrun your diet.” My trainer, Christina, kept me honest and helped me stay on track. I am enjoying my new lifestyle. Even though my motivation was to invest in my future, it’s made profound differences in my everyday life. I have much more energy, can focus better, have significantly lowered my stress levels, increased my confidence, and have been told I look 15 years younger than I am. My doctor recently said my heart is as healthy as a teenager, and I’ve noticed that my immune system is more resilient than it was before I started boot camp. Consistency is key, and the key is making it a part of my daily routine just like brushing my teeth.
I am forever grateful to Linda and her Extreme Boot Camp team. Through their efforts and mine, not only am I certain I’ve sidestepped at least one mental breakdown, but I feel younger, healthier, and am enjoying life more than I ever did. I have also met some great friends through bootcamp, and I look forward to enjoying my 3.0 lifestyle far into the future.
Thank you, Extreme Bootcamp!