Why Working Out Is Therapeutic, But It Must Also Be Fun!
When I (Jackie) was little, my mom regularly attending a jazzercise class at a local studio in my home town. At the time my sisters were both in middle school and neither of my brothers were born. Since my mom didn’t have a sitter, I always went along. Typically, this studio didn’t allow kids. However, I proved to be very good and very quiet, so the instructor allowed me to sit in the back corner and watch. As time went by, I had observed their routine so much I had it memorized. There were even a couple songs where I was allowed to jump up and join in. Somewhere around age 4 the instructor surprised me with a leotard, tights, high socks and belt that matched her exactly! This WAS the 80's. She told me that I could wear it and match her, but I had to get on stage and help her teach. At that moment I didn't realize I was exercising. I was having fun! Looking back on it, I realize why I love the world of fitness so much. It is FUN for me!
When I (Brad) was little, I spent every waking moment playing outside. I played every sport possible. My older brother and sister always kept me on my toes. I found football and basketball to be my go to sports, but loved competition in any sport. I loved winning and doing well in sports as FUN. But, I did not know the first thing about fitness or exercise. I was a bigger kid, but not the strongest. I couldn't do push ups/pull ups/sit ups to save my life. I had skills, but zero attributes to make me an all star athlete (work ethic and a healthy diet severely lacked). I played sports because they were fun and they kept me from being an extremely obese kid, because I loved consuming massive amounts of food. I loved cake. Looking back on it, I realize that I enjoyed competition and enjoyed the camaraderie of playing sports. Being part of a team (especially if it is a winning team) is very FUN!
We both spent a majority of our childhoods spending time outside, playing with our friends and siblings, having as much fun as possible. We would come up with different ways to have fun and through that, we were extremely active. Having fun through activity helped keep us get into decent shape and set a baseline for our future. My childhood (Jackie) never had cable or air conditioning. So, we never really wanted to be inside. Over all, our families were always very active. Both of us had a family baseball/softball, basketball, dodgeball or football game in the backyard on a nightly basis. If that wasn’t happening, then we were most likely on our bikes circling the town. We both enjoyed activities and enjoyed having fun outside.
However, I (Jackie) was never a serious athlete. I was on a swim team when I was 9 and 10 and played volleyball my freshman year of high school. That was it. From the time I graduated high school, until the time I was 26, I had no real fitness routine. I was still active. I popped into my campus gym on occasion. I walked, ran, or rollerbladed when I thought about it and I probably threw in some crunches and hamstring stretches for good measure. When I was 26 years old, I
moved to upstate New York to work at camp in the Adirondacks. The massive campus became small, quickly, and during my first winter there, I found myself needing a reason to get away, each day. So, I joined the gym down the street. I had no knowledge of strength training. But, I knew how to operate a treadmill. Everyday I walked into the gym and jumped on that treadmill and let my mind relax. I was slow and didn’t run very far, at first. But after a while my pace picked up and I’d frequently run for an hour at a time. When spring came I began running outside. The view running along the lake I lived on, in the midst of the mountains, was breath taking and quickly became the highlight of my day. Some days my runs were brief, other days I tacked on a few extra miles and would be gone longer. Again, I would always finish my run with a few ab exercises and stretching. I had never been overweight, however once I started running like this, pounds melted off and I believe I was a good 15 lbs lighter than I am now. Granted, I had zero muscle. Working out was very therapeutic at this time and helped develop the person I am today.
When I moved to NY, my brother was in the Army and deployed to Afghanistan. About 6 months into his deployment and just a couple weeks after his 21st birthday he stepped on an IED and lost the lower half of his right leg. A year and a half later, after he was fully recovered, he came and lived in NY and worked at camp with me. While recovering, he worked out a lot. The more he healed, the harder he pushed, and by the time he showed up in NY, he was in great shape. Keep in mind, I ran a lot and had zero muscle. He got there and said “Well, I need a workout partner. So it’s going to have to be you”. You can’t tell a kid with one leg, no! So, I began to workout with him and did my best to keep up with him. This is when I began to learn about strength training and I fell in love with it. That summer pushed me to brand new limits. The more I realized I was capable of the more I wanted to try. If I were ever to point to a time that truly set me on the path I am on now it would be that summer with him. I found lifting weights fun and therapeutic!
The following fall, I (Jackie) moved back to Michigan. That winter I met Brad and began working at MVP Metro Club in 2014. Everything about my lifestyle changed. I began getting up earlier and earlier. My workouts, thanks to Brad, just got harder and harder. My form on everything improved. Being in a community of people all trying to better themselves inspired me and pushed me everyday. I was having so much fun seeing changes in my body that I decided to attempt a figure competition. Up to this point in my life I had eaten whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. This was the first time I was actually limiting my food choices, my caloric intake, and eating with intention. Changing my eating habits, might be one of the toughest mental challenges I’ve ever encountered. But it was worth it. Yes for the competition, but also for my every day life. Many of those habits have carried over. Maybe not to that same extreme, but it has changed my relationship with food. I’ve learned a lot about nutrition and am continuing to learn on a regular basis. I never realized how terrible my diet made me feel until I cleaned it up and realized how good I could feel when I ate good real foods. Food is fuel and a tool I use to keep me healthy, strong and continuously progressing. I have fun playing with eating healthy and enjoy giving tips to others on what my findings are. Working out and eating well is FUN to me.
Getting into a routine has always been my (Brad) forte, good and bad. When I played sports in high school, I hardly lifted weights. I knew what the basic exercises were (squat, bench and deadlift) and would attend some after school/practice lifts, but I truly hated it because I didn't know why I was doing it. I thought my skills were good enough to be good at sports and lifting was pointless. I was lazy at that point and didn't see results from my workouts because I consumed too many calories. I enjoyed playing the actual sports and practicing because I saw results (ball going into the hoop, etc). I wasn't strong, I was chubby and red faced. My diet in high school consisted of sour patch kids and Fruitopia for lunch and a box of cereal everyday for a snack after school. I was on a serious sugar kick, all day long. I ate like I was only able to shop at a gas station. I moved onto college where I tore my ACL playing hoops (due to being weak and out of shape) and was forced to start taking care of myself. I got into the gym, EVERYDAY. At one point I was 275 lbs and managed to get to
225 lbs. I was lifting heavy weight and taking every supplement possible. I was running around the track at GV, playing in rec leagues and staying active. I started seeing results and found working out therapeutic! It was my routine and I loved it. I felt good for once and I felt strong, which made it FUN!
After college, I (Brad) began to lose my routine due to working more than usual and partying too much. I fell into a big rut. I would go to the downtown YMCA a couple times a week and try to get back to my old routines, but it was hard. Life felt like it was in the way. It wasn't getting in the way. I didn't make it a priority anymore. I started to hate the way I was going, AGAIN. So, in 2008 I decided to change my lifestyle completely and go back to my roots of being in the gym all the time, like I was in college. I got a job at MVP Rockford as a trainer (thanks to Ryan Iott) and since then I haven't looked back. My life has changed completely due to this decision. I have fun working out and putting others through workouts. I understand their pain. I know what its like to rehab a knee multiple times and still not be strong enough to squat down or go for a simple jog. I know what its like to lose weight and get strong. I enjoy picking heavy things up. This is FUN and I get a daily dose of therapy from working out!
Now that you have read an extensive background about us and why we enjoy working out, we invite you to think about why you workout and/or why you don't? Is working out fun to you or do you find that it is therapeutic? Do you need that "me" time where no one is bugging you and you can get away? Or do you need that sense of community a gym gives? We encourage you to find that item that will help you become healthier, while having fun. What is your true why? If your reason is superficial, then the odds are it will be hard to maintain for a lifetime. Find something that truly makes you tick, deep down. Most individuals have a pain that makes them want to be healthier. Whether it is being overweight or having low back pain. Ask yourself what your pain might be or why you struggle to make it a priority and come up with a solution to your pain. Once you figure out the real reason, I promise you will find a way. If it isn't fun, you will quit doing it. Do things that are good for you, not the opposite. We are surrounded by things that want to bring us down on a daily basis. Find items that bring you up and boost you mentally and physically! Start today.
So, bottom line is you don’t have to be an athlete or have a history as an athlete, to start your own fitness journey. You don’t need a ton of time or even to know what you're doing. There are tons of options out there, from workout videos online to training studios/gyms everywhere you go. Now, you have to pick one that entices you. Then all it takes is for you to show up and commit to something and that will in turn become YOUR routine. We went from individuals that lacked direction in our fitness journey, to a treadmill, to a weight room, to careers that help us focus on our over all health and wellness, as well as for others. All you need is enough determination to take the next step. Then the next. If you are struggling to make that step, then shoot us a message. We will help. Once we do, you then you need to continue to surround yourself with people that encourage you, motivate you, and push you to become better, everyday.
Oh, and if you have kids, they love to participate and love to watch their parents squat! Be a good example for them, as well and get under the barbell!