From Passion to Profession: How “new normal” workouts shaped where I am today

Sydney+Denham%2C+Sports+Editor+Emerita%2C+created+a+make-shift+home+gym+to+continue+weight+training+during+the+pandemic.+

PHOTO COURTESY/SYDNEY DENHAM

Sydney Denham, Sports Editor Emerita, created a make-shift home gym to continue weight training during the pandemic.

The second I stepped into Planet Fitness back in my senior year of high school, I knew that it was the start of something. Back then, I wasn’t quite sure what that “something” was yet, so I pushed through every workout, building up my strength and confidence to go into what I found quite daunting: a University fitness center. 

Sounds a little ridiculous, right? Well, it motivated me to go to the gym every day during the summer of 2018. I thought I had to master everything before September. The good thing about this? I fell in love. I loved waking up early for the gym, going to the gym, bringing friends to the gym and, in general, I loved working out. 

This passion for fitness was challenged immensely when the pandemic struck. The once daunting Fitness Center turned into the daunting workouts in my own living room – I truly had no idea what to do.

I decided to start on Instagram. I thought, ‘you can’t go wrong with social media, right?’ Well, other than one specific account I stumbled across, I was wrong. These workouts were just spewing guilt in my face. As I ate that extra bowl of ice cream to help settle the stress from school, working online and, you know, living in a pandemic, I was reading messages like “Cut your sugars,” “Get rid of belly fat” and “Burn those quarantine calories.” Instantly, I grew self-conscious about every decision I made when it came to food and fitness.

It took a lot of mental work to break out of this uneasiness and finally build up my healthy routine again. With minimal equipment and a lot of motivation, I started getting creative with my workouts. 

From here, I started making my own workout sessions, going for runs, walking my dog more often and most importantly, continuing to eat that extra bowl of coffee heath ice cream. Stepping outside of my comfort zone by eliminating social media workouts from my routine, I learned to develop a mindset and physicality in fitness in a way I never had before. 

Over the summer, my boyfriend and I built up a home gym in my basement, which included a squat rack, a barbell, plates, dumbbells, kettlebells, a bench, a bosu ball and some resistance bands. With this equipment, on top of finding new ways to move my body, I fell back into a “gym” routine.

This “new normal” way of working out in our living rooms and over video calls truly brought me to the place I am today, where I not only get to work out everyday but also get to help others along the way. 

It was around August when The Warehouse, a local fitness company where I live, followed me on Instagram. I noticed the owner was one of my boyfriend’s old football coaches and I love supporting small businesses, so I decided to give one of their outside, socially-distanced workouts a try. Besides the sweat dripping through every layer of my clothing and hardly being able to catch my breath, this Saturday morning workout became part of my weekly routine. 

Nearly eight months later, I am now an employee of this company, running Zoom workouts one to two times a week and also helping out at its Sunday Women’s class. Being a part of The Warehouse and trying out new workouts in my basement have shown me that I want to use my passion for fitness to help others. 

I am impatiently waiting for the summertime, when I can start running outside workouts for anyone who wants a good sweat or anyone who just needs some fresh air. With this excitement, I have been looking into taking a course to become a certified personal trainer on my own in the future – of course, I will always hold onto my goal of opening my own gym one day. 

Although this year presented a lot of adversities, I can honestly say that my love for fitness has only grown. What was once a very (very) shy woman trying to build up her confidence is now an aspiring trainer running her own workouts. Truthfully, with all of the resources I have found and formed in this last year, I can’t say when the next time I’ll be in the gym will be. This is not to say I don’t miss the environment of a gym, but it says a lot about how people can adjust to what they feel comfortable doing. 

Now is everyone’s chance to look at tomorrow and say “I’m going to start something new,” whether it has to do with fitness, school, work or anything. This mentality can bring forth a future in which your passion becomes an outlet to not only your happiness, but also other people’s happiness – and happiness is definitely something we all need a little extra of nowadays.