In May, a month after I stopped working, we joined a gym. Before my son was even an idea, I was a fitness junkie. You could search the archives of my blog for old posts about fitness, diet, exercise, and healthy living. It was kind of my thing.
Until it wasn't. For a while. Before I was a mom, running was one thing that kept me sane. When people ask if I worked out my entire pregnancy I feel sheepish answering "yes, except the first trimester."
Which is true. My first trimester knocked me on my ass and kept me there. Twelve solid weeks of exhaustion while my body took the energy I would otherwise apply toward walks, run, weights, and writing and used it to build an organ and the gummy bear baby I saw at our first ultrasound. Apparently organ construction is hard - who knew?
I don't know why I feel so sheepish sharing my fitness journey before my son, even though I adored it. I ran a half marathon a year before I got married. A marathon relay (I was leg 3), three weeks before my wedding. I've run more 5k races than I remember, two 10k races, a 7k and a 15k. Running, writing, and photography were where I found joy.
Finding time to run or go to the gym after Little Man was born was a challenge, especially once I was back at work. My gym in Kentucky didn't have childcare, and even if it had, the time I had to get there was limited. We were house-hunting and preparing to move cross-country. I was breastfeeding. Workouts of the nature of "before" just weren't happening.
What was happening, though, was online workouts. Walking. Keeping active without having to leave the house or take a class. I ran with the stroller infrequently (and got really fast doing it). I knew that for me, keeping up with physical activity was crucial to my sense of self. So I did whatever I could to be active, including seven months of Kayla Itsines BBG Program, which I credit with helping me get my strength and pre-baby body back. Well, mostly. I will always have some squish round my middle, and I credit that squish with helping me to grow my adorable little boy.
Eventually, though, I wanted more. I wanted classes. My free weight collection wasn't quite large enough to reach my needs with BBG.
So we joined the gym. A gym with childcare and classes and free weights and TRX and a pool.
In short, we joined my dream gym.
And we started taking classes - spin classes - together. I took spin classes a touch in college, but hadn't been in a spin studio since a one-off visit right before Oscar and I moved to Texas from Kentucky (a class that renewed my love of group fitness). They were hard. Challenging. Wonderful. They still are. A few days a week we go to spin, or run, or just workout, and for that time I indulge my love of fitness and being a fit mom, or #fitmom. A hashtag I used to look at in awe, and now try to participate in occasionally.
I found a community. My Wednesday night spin instructor has helped us build a tribe. A tribe where we get together more than once a week to ride our hearts out on bikes, to push to get 90rpm at a gear 9 for more than a minute and where 5 minute time trials are just another day's work.
Since we joined the gym, I've gotten stronger and faster, and I've been able to jump back into running in a way I didn't think I would until Oscar was a little older. On a whim I signed up for a 5k Memorial Day weekend and smashed my previous PR by almost a minute - something I didn't think possible.
It did wonders for my confidence.
And that, my friends, is why I work so hard to be fit. Not fit by someone else's standards, but by my own. I workout to be strong for me, my son and husband. To be able to keep up with a toddler who rarely naps and never sits still. To be able to go as fast as I can, as long as I can, and come away from a workout feeling exhilarated, not exhausted.
I may not be able to workout like I used to - I can't always just tie on my running shoes and step out the door. But I can check a class schedule, sign into a class and pedal my heart out while being encouraged to push just a little harder, and go just a little farther.
For me, that's what fitness is all about.