While the rest of us were sitting around doing whatever it is we do, our Fitness Week challenge winners were having an entirely transformative experience. Here’s how it went!
In January, we embarked on our first-ever Fitness Week, which (hopefully) inspired at least some people to find the style of fitness that works for them, be it emotional, physical, hypothetical, symmetrical, parenthetical, whatever.
The incredibly generous folks at the local branch of lululemon athletica liked the idea so much that they asked to meet with us about a potential giveaway they had in mind. We thought maybe they’d donate a free class somewhere to a couple of people, but they had a better idea. We’d choose three people, and they’d pay for two weeks of ANYTHING they wanted to do. No limits. All we had to do was send them to Anna-Claire at lululemon, and she’d handle the rest.
OK, great, we thought, and very carefully picked three people with inspiring stories that we thought would be interesting to watch as they went through the process. Not like, Big Brother style, but “We will check in with you in a few weeks” style.
It turns out that Danny, Wendell, and Julie were getting a lot more than the breezy “whatever classes they want” that lululemon agreed to. They got personally chaperoned to classes at all sorts of local establishments (and some runs here and there), they were encouraged and sweated with, and they got some effective workout gear that would make their experience that much better.
I spoke with Danny and Wendell about their few weeks of a new life.
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Danny, 30, The Fan
Danny’s had three factors working against him: a weight-gain-causing medication, a thyroid issue, and a serious case of gym-dread. He wants to find something that actually feels right, pair it with a lasting change in eating habits, and see if he can increase his energy as well as his self-esteem.
Fitness Options Attempted
Yoga • Shockoe Slip Yoga • 4 – 5 times
“It wasn’t hard or anything. It did make you sweat, but the more yoga i did the easier the other tasks were. Like with spin, I wouldn’t have had an easy time with that if I hadn’t done yoga. You come out feeling like wow, that actually felt like it did something. If you’d asked me in December, I probably would have scoffed at the idea of doing yoga, but after trying it in January, I’m sleeping better, I’m stretching further than I was a month ago.”
“The instructors are yelling, they’re high energy, they really get you moving around. They’re good at their job.
You want to kinda die when you’re doing it the first time. You go in and you think “I can do biking, anyone can ride a bike,” but then they’re making you stand every other beat. They definitely make it fun. [Regarding playlists:] I don’t listen to any electronic music on my own, but it’s really fun and easy to move to, especially when they’re yelling over it. [Standing up halfway] can feel like the hardest ten seconds of your whole life. But you come out just feeling great.”
Body Pump • Gold’s Gym • 2
“I’ve had a Golds membership for years. Before, I’d see a line [for a class] and think “What’s the point of doing a class? I’ll just do the elliptical.” But having a structure and having someone tell you proper form, when to start when to stop,it was really helpful, and it made me understand what to do.”
CrossFit • CrossFit Addict • 1
“I partnered up with Katie from lululemon, and we did things like burpees, jumping over the barbell, warmups (crab walking, jumping, big steps, running backwards). We ran around the building, and we did jump roping. A lot of high intensity workout: low weight, high intensity. One hundred burpees and jumps between the two of us, so we traded off. That was really cool because there was a community aspect of it–people telling you you can do it.
I’d only heard mostly negative things about CrossFit being douchey, that there’s a strict regimen and focus on telling people things even though they’re really positive. They were really positive, man. I thought, “If I can afford this, I will do this really regularly.”
You do feel really good coming out, but then you’re sore for three or four solid days. A lot of thighs, butt, arms, shoulders, and back work. They try to do things that really work out muscles that you use day to day and make sure that you’re able to keep using them. It’s all stuff that gives you utility throughout the week.”
Running • four miles with Hillary from lululemon around the flood wall • 1
“I did have to stop once. She was cool about it, and kept reminding me that it’s entirely in your mind and your body can keep going.”
- Having a structure, exercising with a group.
- “Another lesson was that sleep is definitely beneficial. Especially with the exercise in the middle of all that stuff, I’d feel bad even contemplating going to Taco Bell.”
“Compared to a month ago? I’ve already been told by a couple of people that my mood is different. I think I just wake up feeling…just better.”
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Wendell, 45, Westover Hills
A survivor of breast cancer, a double mastectomy, and multiple reconstructive surgeries, Wendell feels ready to supercharge her health. She feels that finding the right fit for a regular workout plan-as well as a little internal push past her own self-confidence issues-would allow her to feel healthy and pretty again. Her family has been her cheering section through her healing journey, and now they’re joined by our entire readership!
“The lululemon Great Fit Challenge presented me with a smorgasbord of different workout experiences…it was like being at the best buffet ever! My personal goal was to be adventuresome and try new things, even though I was worried how my post-breast-cancer body would perform.”
“lululemon’s Anna-Claire Fourness took time to uncover the workout experiences that would work best for my current fitness level and interests. She helped me pick out two new bras courtesy of lulu! Then lulu salesperson Katie Dale coordinated with area businesses to set up the fun. For extra support, Katie or one of the women of the lulu sales team joined me on my workout adventures.”
Fitness Options Attempted
Barre • Richmond Barre
“Loved! Tapped into that inner ballerina, and owner Ashley was an amazing teacher. I will definitely try this again!”
Aerial Yoga • Fighting Gravity Fitness
Bucket List experience! Owner Audrey led us in arial yoga class that had us laughing out loud and full of positive energy when we left. Do you remember that feeling you had as as a kid when you raced for your favorite swing?? That’s how I feel about Audrey’s class. I am definitely going back to play.
Yoga • Yoga Source
Yoga Bliss! Paula led a delicious Hatha yoga class that stretched all those sore muscles. lululemon ambassador Ellie Burke brought her insightful cues to a Yoga Basics class. I came back to try a Kundalini class with Holly and felt very mellow and intrigued. I love this studio!
Hot Yoga • Hot House Yoga
Very. Very. Hot. Lots and lots of sweating. For a humidity-averse person with claustrophobia this was not for me.
Personal Training • Zinger Fit
Sweat Party! Owner Kelly is full of energy and is determined to get me back in shape. I’m only two sessions into the six and my confidence is way up. No one but Kelly could get me to do walking lunges. No one!
Spinning • Boho Cycle
Night club meets spin class. Spin mistress Tessa led us in a heart pumping journey that left my legs like noodles. I think the most fun people work and spin at Boho!! Their positive energy is contagious!
Pilates • Private session at Core Pilates
Transformative!! Ballet meets weight lifting! Owner Karen took time to find out how my body moved and helped me understand subtle cues to improve my posture. We worked on big scary machines that actually turned out to be fun. Definitely will be back.
- “Waking up every morning excited to try something new was a tremendous gift!!”
“Being around all of these dedicated, positive people definitely rubbed off on me! I loved meeting RVA business owners and instructors who are passionate about fitness. I woke up every morning excited to try something new. I found that I was stronger than I thought. And finding your passion is worth the effort.”
- Disclaimer: RVANews’s own Lauren Eubank is an instructor at Boho because she simply cannot be stopped. ↩