Health & Wellness

Pain and gain, or how I learned to love exercise


Last April, I convinced my husband it would be a good idea for us to join an exercise program and spend quality time together. I don’t like exercising, especially doing reps on machines in a gym, but I had a recurring upper back/shoulder injury that was taking a long time to respond to treatment, which included chiropractic, massage, Reiki and physical therapy.

My physical therapist finally advised me that I needed to exercise in order to strengthen the muscles in my upper back and shoulder, so I reluctantly considered my options. I’ve been practicing yoga on and off for nearly a decade, but the weakness and nerve pain I’d developed as a result of my injury was making it difficult for me to do asanas such as Downward Facing Dog. I’m also not very disciplined about sticking with exercise without support, cajoling or badgering. My husband, on the other hand, likes torturing himself with extreme activities, so I knew he wouldn’t tolerate my namby-pamby excuses. I kept seeing signs for Pinnacle Fitness bootcamp being offered at the inflatable play and party center my daughter goes to, so we decided to look into it.

I’m naturally thin, but that should not be confused for being fit or toned. I sit at a desk for many hours and live just far away from the stores and restaurants in downtown Decatur to make running errands on foot a bit of a hassle. I used to lead a fairly active life, but I became more sedentary in the last few years, especially after my daughter was born.

After the first class, I was pretty sure I might not be able to lift my arms or walk up and down the stairs ever again. I. Was. Miserable. It was the toughest workout I had ever experienced. But I went back. Before I knew it, I was seeing progress and signed up for another month. A client of mine admired my nicely toned arms. My husband said my legs had never looked better. Yowza! My massage therapist was able to work on my upper back more effectively and she could feel improved definition in former problem areas. Most importantly, the discomfort I’d dealt with for months went away.

With some occasional exceptions, my husband and I have gone twice a week for nine months now. I’ve never stuck with any exercise regimen that consistently for that long.  Don’t get me wrong; it’s still tough and there are exercises I will always hate doing. However, I realized last night that I was now one of the old-timers when a bunch of new people showed up to class and I found myself advising/guiding them through some of the sequences. Our instructor, David, kept saying that we were now the class leaders but it didn’t really register with me at first. It felt good to go from feeling weak and inept to showing someone else the ropes and assuring them they’re going to do great.

I also laughed the other day when I received the “Gym Rat” badge on Foursquare. Me, a gym rat?

Getting through bootcamp each week requires focus and mental toughness, and applying those attributes is starting to help me in a lot in other areas of my life too. Now, if I can just get around to doing that 5K I’ve been saying I’m going to do…

(Photo credit: Mark H. Evans on Flickr)

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5 thoughts on “Pain and gain, or how I learned to love exercise

  1. Go Dana! I think exercise is one of those things that is difficult to start but once its incorporated as part of our lifestyle, we are left wondering how we ever got along without it. Its truly awesome that you seem to have found what works for you!

    If you have never done long distances, start slow .. invest in a good pair of running shoes. If you develop knee problems, good-paced walking or swimming laps are very good alternatives to getting that heart pumping.

    • Now my goal is to correct specific issues – shoulder rounding and tightness in my hip flexors/piriformis/gluteus medius. And of course, continuing to strengthen my core. Between you and my massage therapist, I’m learning a lot about anatomy! 🙂 Thanks for the continued encouragement!

  2. A month has made such a huge difference, although I am slowly getting to where I want to be. I definately feel stronger and stronger every class. David you’re my hero!

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