Strong-Fit-Beautiful Turns 2!

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Today is an exciting day here at Strong-Fit-Beautiful … we are turning 2! I would have never imagined that, when I took my girl Helen’s advice and started writing about what I love, it would have turned into something so incredible. I’ve been blessed that, as a result, I’ve had a lot of great opportunities – and been able to share a lot of great stories and advice – along the way. I’ve “met” some great people from around the world who are here for the same reason I am – because health and fitness are my passion, my love, the one thing that I can always get excited to talk about.

One thing that a lot of people don’t know about me is that I’m not naturally as outgoing and enthusiastic as I am when fitness is involved. While there is no greater feeling than stepping in front of a class, and chatting with those who have, truly, become my friends week in and week out, I can be pretty shy. I have a hard time letting people in a lot of the time. Which is why I think that I love teaching – I have the opportunity to be someone else. To be the me I wish I was. To feel like, even if only for a short time, I’m not being criticized or judged. In a lot of ways, I get the same feeling when I’m sharing my posts and communicating with all of you – it’s incredibly rewarding. Makes me feel as if I’m making a difference. Having an impact. And at the end of the day, that is the one thing I want out of my life – to know that I have made someone’s life better.

When I first started Strong-Fit-Beautiful, I was in kind of a sad place. I’d recently  had my heart broken – again – and I often found myself wondering if I had wasted many of my “good” years, too focused on the things that didn’t mean as much to me, and not enough on the ones that really did. I felt like I’d done a lot of work, lived a lot of life, and maybe didn’t have too much to show for it. But the truth is, I have realized that it’s the lows that make the highs that much sweeter. And there really is something better just around the corner – and if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that when we feel we’ve been given all we can handle, the prize for surviving is within our reach (I can honestly say that in the last six months, I’ve had a lot more highs than lows … and everything kind of all hit at once … and yes, I wasn’t sure I could get any lower before that trend started a rapid climb upward). There have been many ups and downs since then, and though I don’t make a practice of sharing too much personal stuff too often, I’m glad to say that while life isn’t perfect right now, it is looking pretty good. I know that I have a lot of great people around me, supporting me, loving me and standing by me through those ups and downs. And I’m fortunate enough to do what I love part-time … even if it is only a few hours a week, teaching classes is truly the best food my soul could ever hunger for.

But enough of the sappy stuff, right? I’ve had a really great time writing Strong-Fit-Beautiful these last two years, and I’ve had some amazing opportunities come out of it. I’ve been fortunate to connect with some other incredible bloggers, both here in the U.S. and across the world. I’ve met a few of my readers here in the local area, and I’ve even enjoyed my five minutes of fame when one of my classes was featured on the morning local ABC news. I’ve had some great laughs from some of your comments (trust me, it makes me feel much more normal knowing that some of the same weird crap I see in my gym is not exclusive to my area … there are weirdos all over). More than anything, I’ve had FUN doing something I love (writing), and even more fun getting to discuss one of my favorite topics (fitness) on the regular.

So, to all of you who have helped Strong-Fit-Beautiful become what it is today … THANK YOU! You’re the best. As long as you’ll keep reading, I’ll keep sharing. I  know I haven’t been as good as of late about keeping up as I have in the past, but life has been crazy, so I’m trying my best (as my mom says, it’s tiring having a life, isn’t it? It’s something that’s kind of new to me). Here’s to another year of fun and fitness!


The Best Way to Start Your Week: A Love Letter to My Sunday Morning Spinning Class

This Sunday marks somewhat of an end of an era for me. I’ve been teaching a Sunday morning indoor cycling class at XSport Fitness in Alexandria since the summer of 2010 – it started as a class I participated in, which then convinced me to become a Spinning instructor – and it was also the first class I ever team taught, eventually becoming the very first cycling class I could call my own.

It’s been quite a journey. Like every format I’ve ever taught, I spent those first couple of classes still kind of trying to figure it out (any instructor who will tell you otherwise is either an enigma, or lying). Before too long, I truly found my style – those of you who have checked out my playlists know I organize my classes into 3 “building blocks,” which typically start relatively tame, and four to five songs later, straddle the line somewhere between brutal and miserable. But nothing was truly as amazing as when I realized that I had built a core group of awesome people who joined me every Sunday morning.

When I was asked to change my Sunday schedule, I didn’t think too much about it, but once I had committed to the move (yes, I’m still teaching a Sunday double, but moving cycle to Thursday nights at 5:45 … you didn’t think you’d get rid of me that easy, did you?), it sunk in: I was giving up my very first cycling class. So much has happened on those Sunday mornings. It was actually a Sunday morning when I was taking a class, shortly after my certification class, and before I was officially on the schedule, that I taught my very first song (I vividly remember the morning Dylan looked at me, and told me to pull my bike out and teach a song – Usher’s “OMG.” So yeah, if you’ve been wondering where my style of harder than necessary meets somewhat crazy comes from, you can thank Dylan). I’ve seen people succeed in their fitness journeys – some go from “uh, I have no idea how to set this bike up” to Spinning junkies. In many ways, I think I’ve grown, too – not only as a cycling instructor, but as a person.

As today’s headline suggests, I view this is somewhat of a love letter to my Sunday morning Spinning class. Whether they realize it or not, they have meant the world to me. They stuck by me in the beginning, and didn’t run away when I determined my style to be “kinda evil.” They kept joining me, even when I’m sure some of them were a little tired of weeks filled with Katy Perry and David Guetta and “Moves Like Jagger.” Heck … they even started requesting, and getting excited, on weeks we would end with Sting (“Desert Rose.” It’s like yoga on a bike. It’s an incredible way to end a class – four minute climb, all about clearing your mind, thinking about what you’ve accomplished throughout class and getting your week off to a great start. You bet that’s the last song on tomorrow’s playlist).

So, to my Sunday morning cyclists: you have been my savior. Your energy was infectious on the mornings I was exhausted (because a few of those Sundays, I was teaching on maybe four hours of sleep). Your questions and suggestions pushed me to become a better, more knowledgeable instructor. Your kindness and your dedication always put a smile on my face, even on days I was feeling sad or lonely or hurt (my smile may hide it, but there have been more than a few). You’ve been my inspiration, you’ve been my therapy, and yes, you’ve been my reason to get out of bed early on Sunday mornings. For that, I’m forever grateful.

That said, I want to end the same way I do every class I teach: thank you so much for joining me, because I truly do appreciate it. Though we will no longer be spending our Sunday mornings together (unless you decide to swap cycle for Piloxing, starting July 22 at 9:30 a.m. … or take up Pilates, which moves to 10:30 a.m. starting July 8 … or you want to start cycling at 5:45 p.m. on Thursday nights … hint, hint), you will always have a special place in my heart.