I joined the Birmingham YMCA in February of 2014, just a few weeks after I had accepted my position at the American Cancer Society. I was about 8 months into my weight loss journey and had lost 50 lbs. Because of my new job I wasn't going to be able to go to the gym I had been going to every morning at 5 am- it just didn't make sense for my commute. At the time, I was devastated to leave that gym. I didn't think any gym would ever replace it. I was worried I wouldn't be able to keep up my weight loss progress. I doubted that the Birmingham YMCA would ever be "home" for me.
I was wrong.
The Birmingham Y is not the greatest, most up to date Y. It's small, it only has a few of each machine, and the weight room is often pretty crowded. So why then, am I so sad to say goodbye to this place?
Mostly, Bootcamp. I remember my very first Bootcamp class. I was looking for a challenge, but I was nervous I wouldn't be able to do it. And, honestly, I barely did it. I remember coming home and saying "Dude- we had to run up and down the stairs for 2 minutes in between sets". Even though I was down 50 lbs, I was still heavy- and Bootcamp was hard for me.
But then I met Sarah. Sarah was a trainer at the Y. She and I hit it off right away. She was funny, calm, and helped me to understand things. She really encouraged me to keep trying Bootcamp- especially when she started teaching the class. It was her class that made me fall in love with the challenge of Bootcamp. Sarah made that class feel like you were just hanging out with your friends. We all got to know each other, we challenged and pushed each other. She encouraged us to try new things or try heavier weights or to run a little further. She let us do what was best for our bodies while pushing us to go further. I looked forward to every Tuesday and Thursday with Sarah and the rest of my Bootcamp buddies.
Over the years, I've tried new classes, designed my own workouts on the days I wasn't in classes, shared my weight loss story, fell in love with kickboxing, laughed with my classmates, trained to climb 70 flights of steps, learned how to properly lift weights, and, most importantly, become a much more confident individual. The confidence could come from the weight loss, sure- but I can't help but think that it also comes from the sense of empowerment that I got from the Y.
Within the last 6 months or so, we've had a new Bootcamp instructor named Josephine. Josephine is this tiny little thing, but she is fierce, and she is challenging. She pushed me to a whole new level with bootcamp. I always walked out of her class totally exhausted, but feeling like I climbed a mountain or could take on the world. I seriously looked forward to each and every class of hers, and even gave up many of my Saturday afternoons to take the noon class with her.
Tonight I took my final Bootcamp class at that YMCA. With my move, I am switching over to the Y that is closer to me....in fact, it's in walking distance. I couldn't help but feel emotional about leaving. That place really has become my home. I was there 5-6 days a week, almost every week, for two full years. That's a lot of time to spend anywhere! But it's not just the time I spent there. It's the milestones that I hit while I was there, it's the friends I made there, it's the memories of burpees and stair climbs and zumba and yoga and, most dearly, bootcamp.
So now I start a new chapter. I've reached my goal weight, but that won't stop me from going to the gym or continuing to challenge myself. I still have records to beat, weights to lift, and classes to take. And while I'm doubtful any experience will compare to my time at the Birmingham Y, I am looking forward to a whole new challenge.
Thank you Sarah, Josephine, and everyone in between for the support you have shown me over the last two years. You've given me more than I could ever express.