Grit: courage and resolve; strength of character.
I am sweating, out of breath, and kind of feel like I want to throw up. Just looking at me, you might think I had just crossed the finish line of a 5K. In reality, I just finished digging through my closet looking frantically for my good sneakers. Not the ones I bought over 10 years ago, while I was still in college and can’t bring myself to throw away. Not those. I’m desperately looking for the sneakers I wore when I completed the couch25k program and ran the Color Run 3 years ago, in between having my third and fourth child.
That was my most recent long-term (okay – it lasted three months) attempt to get back into shape. But before long, baby #4 made her appearance, and the momentum I once had came to a screeching halt. The 40 pounds I gained through the beautiful but body-warping experience that was carrying and birthing four kids in six years seemed to become a permanent part of me. Hopelessness set in.
At home workouts were not my jam — I would just sit down when I wanted and turned it off without a second thought. I tried the very inexpensive gym down the street. I tried cutting foods out, adding foods in, point systems, macros, tracking apps. These options just don’t work well for me. I need an actual plan, external motivation, and accountability. I also don’t want to feel like everyone is looking at me and laughing at how awful I am at burpees.
When a friend of mine asked if I wanted to try OrangeTheory Fitness, a hesitant shiver ran down my spine. I mean, of course, I wanted to try it, but I probably wouldn’t make it through an entire class. It seemed pretty hardcore. Much more intense than I was used to being. I mean, 10 minutes of Zumba could wear me out. How would I be able to take an hour-long group class?
Fast forward one month into OrangeTheory Fitness, and I am so glad I said yes! I’m not speaking in hyperbole — this has been so good for my mental and physical health. I’d love to share a bit about my experience so far:
First of all, I am pleasantly surprised by the diversity of the people there. All shapes, sizes, and ages are represented. I didn’t stick out like a sore thumb, which was a huge fear of mine. The class offerings are also varied. Some focus on strength, while others work on endurance or power movements. OrangeTheory achieves this by using treadmills, rowing machines, and free weights and floor exercises in every class. I love this because the classes seem to fly by.
At first, I was a bit intimidated by how high tech the gym is, but now it is my favorite OrangeTheory Fitness perk. Members wear a heart monitor during the one-hour workout. Your heart rate is displayed on an extra large screen visible from anywhere in the gym. Your goal is to push yourself into the orange zone, which gives you splat points. Each class you aim for 12 splat points, which translates to a phenomenon called excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) – more simply referred to as “afterburn. You can read more about the afterburn effect here, but basically, it means that you burn calories faster for up to 36 hours after your workout. After each workout, you receive an email detailing your workout which includes how many calories you burned, your average heart rate, and total splat points.
The group class setting makes me work harder than I would if I were left to my own devices. For comparison, I burn about 400 calories at the gym by myself in an hour. My average calories burned at the OrangeTheory classes is 600 calories. High energy is contagious and being around people pushing themselves, helps me push myself to do things I never thought I could do.
My second class was what is referred to as a benchmark class. You do these every 3 months to see improvement in your times, strength, and endurance. This particular class I had to row 2000m at one time. And let me tell you, it was – for some reason – such a mental a physical obstacle.
KEEP. GOING. The instructor encouraged me, probably noticing that “I want to get up and walk away” look on my face.
I looked down and saw I was only at 800 meters. Good Lord, there’s no way I can do this I thought to myself. I’m not even halfway there and I want to quit. It was then I remembered a conversation I had with a close friend about grit. That digging deep thing. I don’t have it. I’ve never had it. I do easy things, but I avoid the hard stuff. Am I really okay with that?
I thought about difficult things going on in my life right now; managing anxiety and depression, homeschooling four kids, nurturing difficult relationships- you just have to do it. Even when you don’t feel like it. Dig deep. Don’t stop. Get your grit.
While on that rower, I concluded that I do have grit. Motherhood requires it. Maybe not physically yet, but I am strong mentally, even though I don’t feel that way.
I was the second to last person in the whole class to finish. As soon as I saw that 2000m on the screen, I realized I was yelling. Like a warrior. I did something I never thought I would ever push myself to finish.
Standing on the edge of this fitness journey is still unnerving. I have failed so many times before. In all honesty, though, the accountability and encouragement that OrangeTheory Fitness provides is a huge support. Already it has proven to be a place I continually surprise myself and work towards physical strength that matches my mental strength.
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