Challenge Accepted

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Challenge Accepted

Today’s blog is from guest author Erin O’Neill (new client at UpRise) about her
first few weeks with us. It warms my heart! ~Megan

Challenge Accepted
by Erin O’Neill

It has been four weeks since I first stepped into UpRise Fit. Why did I do this?
What was I thinking? I hate gyms! The last time I was in any kind of a gym was
over a decade ago when I tried my local community centre’s “Fitness Studio”. It
was horrible. Even after I had an introductory session – teaching me how to use
the equipment I still felt incredibly lost. And while I tried to use the treadmill, I
felt very much like a hamster on a wheel as I looked out the window of my cage
I mean, the Fitness Studio. So why, after many years of trying different
variations on the gym theme would I have ever allowed myself to walk into a
place like UpRise?

The truth?

It was a free session – which incidentally they offer to anyone who is curious.
They were offering a free week of programs as it was March Break for the kids
and I decided to take advantage not just of my time off, but of the free session.
That’s when I met Megan and Angela (I had spoken with Matt on the phone
when I booked the day and time). Megan was going to do my initial session to
see where my needs were and thus began my journey.

Sitting down with Megan for the questions she had was not at all like an
interview. She wasn’t asking me about weight loss goals or fitness goals in a
way that made me feel awkward. She actually asked me what sorts of activities
I wanted to see myself doing in the future – which was question I had not really
thought much of. As someone who needs to lose over 100 lbs, I never pictured
myself doing much physical activity. Sure, I walked often and I did do a fair
amount of yoga, but I didn’t exactly see myself running races. Or did I?
In fact, I kind of did.

Sure, I walked often and I did do a fair
amount of yoga, but I didn’t exactly see myself running races. Or did I?
In fact, I kind of did.

I really thought about what it would be like to have a body
that moved as easily as my body moved when I was a child. We can all
remember playing tag, running around in the backyard, riding our bikes,
jumping rope and climbing trees or play structures. These are the things I
wanted to be able to do again. In short, I wanted to be able to play.
So, after going through a few simple-but-challenging exercises for Megan to
evaluate what my body could and could not do; to see where and how my body was
challenged, it was time for me to embrace this neatly tucked away space downtown, just off Elgin St.

After giving me compliments on my ability to hold a plank position – something which I had
never heard before, I suddenly had a sense of confidence that kind of surprised
me! Maybe I could do this after all.

I have been working with Angela once a week for 30 minutes. It’s a short
amount of time but the exercises we do are very important. They aren’t
designed to waste any energy or misuse any muscle. Working one-on-one has
been an excellent match for me because I am someone who sometimes
struggles with being self-motivated. Having an “appointment” means that if I
cancel, it’s not just my time I am giving up, it’s someone else’s. I feel
accountable not just to myself, but to my trainer. And while 30 minutes does
not seem like a long time, it is just enough to get my body moving, to use
muscles I don’t use often enough and it’s enough time to teach me a few simple
movements I can do at home when I am not at UpRise. Whether it’s
standing/wall push-ups or or simply practicing my plank, these are things I can
learn to do effectively with a professional and then continue to do them on my
own. As the exercises become easier, rather than just doing them because
“that’s all I know”, I will have a guide to help me find new ways to challenge my
body.

Working one-on-one has
been an excellent match for me because I am someone who sometimes
struggles with being self-motivated. Having an “appointment” means that if I
cancel, it’s not just my time I am giving up, it’s someone else’s

While big-box gyms and have their place, they are not right for everyone. And
while many people benefit from local community centres, they are often not
staffed, so if you are using a kettlebell or even resistance bands incorrectly,
nobody is there to tell you. I know that I didn’t like the bigger gyms because I
felt intimidated and invisible at the same time. I felt that while everyone was
surely staring at me – the biggest person in the room – these people wouldn’t
help me out even if I asked. I felt awkward in these environments.
That’s not the case at UpRise. On my second visit, Megan greeted me before I
was even half-way up the stairs – not because she saw me, but she could hear
the clanking of my metal straw inside my water bottle. “Sounds like it’s Erin”
she said! And working with Angela makes me feel good. She’s not yelling in my
face to do one more rep., she’s not cursing at me telling me that I will die
tomorrow if I don’t do one more push-up. Rather, she gently reminds me that I
“can do it”, and tells me that I am strong and that if I can do this today, just
think of what I will be able to do next week, next month or next year.
This is a place where community matters. It is a small space, but one where you
feel welcome as part of a team. Because it isn’t a big-box, name brand centre
your voice matters a great deal and you are never made to feel like just another
body.

I know that I didn’t like the bigger gyms because I
felt intimidated and invisible at the same time. I felt that while everyone was
surely staring at me – the biggest person in the room – these people wouldn’t
help me out even if I asked. I felt awkward in these environments.
That’s not the case at UpRise

It seems like after 20-odd years of trying to avoid a place where I’d be doing
squats and planks and push-ups, I have finally found a bright spot in the heart
of Ottawa. UpRise is where it’s at for me and while it’s certainly challenging
each week, I have decided to accept this challenge knowing that it will help me
find a body that moves freely and with the playful abandon of my childhood
days.

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