Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Weight Club Member Profile

I was asked to be the featured member in the Weight Club newsletter. I wasn't sure I wanted to really do that but then thought if it helps someone to set their goals a bit higher or work a little harder, then it's worth doing.

How long have you been a member of Blacksburg Health and Fitness and what brought you to the club?

I joined the Weight Club in May of 2008, but I had been a dedicated member for many years during the 90s. Then came marriage (to my lifting partner!), two beloved sons, a return to graduate school, and a faculty position at VT. Personal fitness took a backseat to life’s demands and I bought into the myth that moms can’t make time for their own fitness needs. Last spring it caught up to me as I suddenly realized I was in the worst shape of my life, carrying extra weight and lacking energy. I knew I had to make a lifestyle change but was at a loss on where and how to start. I researched personal trainers, and contacted trainer Jake Parks based on his academic, athletic, and professional background. I made an appointment with him, joined the Weight Club, and the journey began.

What are your fitness goals?

My initial goal was just to “get in shape” but thankfully Jake encouraged me to translate that into more tangible goals. I had started running a little, so he suggested I consider a half-marathon. My initial response was “no way!” But I began to envision the sense of accomplishment that it would bring, and I signed up for the Danville Half Marathon. Jake developed a balanced workout and running plan to fit in with my busy schedule.

On September 13, I completed the Danville Half Marathon that had previously seemed so daunting. Along the way I found myself 25 pounds leaner. Since then, I’ve run several other races, gaining strength and confidence with each, including the Brush Mountain Breakdown 15 miler and the Roanoke Star City Half Marathon. I am currently training for the VT Bench Press competition, Blacksburg Classic 10 Miler, and the Pittsburgh Marathon. And while these external benchmarks serve as a focus, my main goal is just to have fun and get healthy while discovering my inner athlete!

How has having a personal trainer helped you reach your goals?

Without the help of a personal trainer, I believe I would still be chasing the elusive dream to “get in shape.” I find I need the structure, education, and accountability. This represents a reversal in my thinking because I used to view personal training as a bit of a crutch or luxury. But now I see it as an investment in my health that has had a trickle-down effect and has inspired my sons in their own fitness goals.

Jake maps out my strength training and running plans and makes adjustments as needed so I am spared the time-consuming and complex job of planning. He has a lot of knowledge and personal and professional experience to draw upon including from his own wrestling, marathon running, and bodybuilding. With the programs he designs, I know my workouts are optimized, I’m not over- or under-training, and I have sufficient recovery time. My role is just to do the work, making every rep, set, run, and interval count. He keeps things challenging, interesting, and fun and regularly introduces new exercises.

Another goal of mine has been to learn to eat better and to help my family to do the same. With the trainer’s help and by logging my food online (sparkpeople.com), we are all making better choices and the contents of our refrigerator and pantry have changed substantially!

What is your training routine?

My current program includes strength training four times a week (two with my trainer) for about an hour per session, running four times per week, and cross-training on the bike or elliptical. I also play tennis year-round and enjoy swimming during the summer.

What are your favorite exercises?

Probably because of my powerlifting background, I most prefer the basic foundation exercises – pull-ups, pushups, deadlifts (sumo style), bench, squats, and lunges – where it’s just me against gravity. Similarly, I love the freedom of running and the mental and physical toughness required to persevere on long runs and during speed work, particularly in the cold!

Do other members of your family belong to the Weight Club?

We are all members of the Weight Club. My son Spencer (9) is working toward a 5K and enjoys the track and basic strength training. He works out weekly with Jake too. Grant (7) participates in the Karate classes and enjoys the kid’s room with the Wii. Unfortunately, my husband Robert’s schedule does not allow him to utilize the club much at the moment.

What are your favorite things about the club?

I appreciate the family-friendly services of the club, the great staff, and the fact that people of all ages feel welcome to enjoy and utilize the facility. The location is convenient, particularly the proximity to the Easy Chair Coffee Shop and Runabout Sports!