Heather Found Her Inner Athlete

Hi, I’m Heather. I am an Activity Director, or what a I like to say”in charge of fun!”at the Assisted Living Community in Winthrop.I have fibromyalgia and really wanted to find a way to control my pain without medication, as well as get fit and healthy. A gym where you just do your own thing like Planet Fitness would never work for me.Especially at first, I needed personal training and one on one help from coaches to learn movements and ways to make each workout work for me. Andy and Mary designed a program just for me to help me ease my way into classes.

My journey to getting fit has been a long and challenging one. I never thought of myself as an athlete and was never very coordinated. I hated gym class as a child and was always the last one picked for teams. Suffice it to say, I had absolutely no self confidence in the area of fitness. In addition, I have suffered with neck pain, back pain and severe headaches for twenty years and was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and sleep apnea 5+ years ago. I have tried therapeutic massage, pain killers, walking, electrical stimulation, some strength training, physical therapy for pain relief and symptom control but nothing really helped. My husband, Kelly had been coming to Tradewinds for a year or so and loved it. I tried personal training for a few months, but was discouraged and stopped sessions too soon because the prospect of attending group classes felt daunting to me. So, I joined Planet Fitness for a year. That didn’t go well!  I only made it to the gym four times, because I needed much more encouragement, training and help that a box gym like Planet Fitness could never provide.

I talked to Andy and Mary about the possibility of developing a program for me at a Tradewinds. They were happy to help! My first time coming to Tradewinds, when I decided to really go for it and get fit; I cried as I walked across the street to Tradewinds. Because I was afraid that I would injure or embarrass myself. This time, when embarking my journey at Tradewinds I was determined to figure out how to get fit and healthy for my well-being. I was turning 50 and wanted to be 50, fit and fabulous inside and out! Andy, Mary and Michaela worked with me for 4+ months in personal training to get me into shape and teach me the movements necessary for workouts.They encouraged me every step of the way. A year ago, I started group classes but still needed help tweaking the workouts and reviewing them before the class. So Mary, Andy and Michaela would spend 15 minutes with me before each class reviewing each movement and adapting it for me. After awhile, I learned how to adapt each movement myself. So I was finally able to join group classes on my own without the pre-class coaching, something I never thought I’d be able to do.

I participated in the nutrition challenge about a year ago and was so proud of the results. I lost 10 pounds, but also learned nutrition habits that I have continued to use. Flash forward to this year and I weigh the same, but my shape is much more toned and I can wear all my clothes in my wardrobe(even my skinny clothes) and they fit great! Due to attending classes 3 days a week and and eating healthy.

When the pandemic hit and we could no longer go into the gym, my husband and I set up an area in a spare room upstairs to workout. It helped to do the workouts together. Even more helpful were Coach Caren’s texts, True Coach messages and adapted workouts. She took the time to tweak each workout for the equipment I had and my ability. Her encouragement helped so much. My job as an Activity Director at an Assisted Living changed a lot due to Corona. I am considered essential, but couldn’t really do my job to its full extent. I became more of a social worker and was trying to meet my residents’ emotional needs, which were many! It was really stressful and draining. I needed to workout for my own emotional well- being! I began to look forward to my three day a week workouts even more than I ever had before.

When Memorial Day was coming up, Caren asked if I was going to do the Murph. I responded, “Not a chance!” I didn’t think it was an event that I had the endurance or ability to do. But Coach Caren didn’t agree. After some discussion back and forth, I decided to do the half-Murph. It was a great experience! I was so proud that I was able to do it! It was the first time I had done a workout that long or difficult and it was fun to complete it with our a Tradewinds Community over Zoom.

About a week after the Murph I had the beginning of a 7 week medical adventure. It started with an emergency appendectomy. During my two weeks of recovery Caren gave me mindfulness exercises and walks for workouts. It helped a lot to have something to complete, while I was recovering and not yet ready to complete a regular work out. I was so discouraged initially because I felt like I had gotten to about my best ever, in terms of training and didn’t want to lose ground. I began to feel well enough to go back to attending outdoor workouts and do what I could with helpful hints from Caren as well as the coach leading the workout. It was great to finally be together with a class again. And you can’t beat the view! But I still had a lot of stomach pain and bloating from the surgery, or so I thought. So I had to really pace myself, because of the pain. Eventually, after 6 weeks the pain and bloating didn’t go away. So I went to the emergency room and was then hospitalized for 5 days. After an altered diet, I am much better and have made back into the gym. It’s so great to be back. I am now able to do the workouts again and feel about the most fit and trim ever in my adult life! Last week after finally making it back into the physical gym I was overheard saying two things that I never thought would come out of my mouth. The first was, “I really have missed the barbell.” The second was, “I might be a runner. I really like running.”

Learning to lift weights correctly has helped my posture, strengthened me in mind, body and spirit and really boosted my confidence. I even hold my body differently than I did a year ago and I have much better body awareness. Being a Tradewinds Athlete is something I am so proud of, it has boosted my confidence in every part of my life. It’s also given me more energy, joy and decreased my pain. I love the Tradewinds community. It has been a pleasure to walk alongside so many other fantastic people also desiring to be fit and healthy during my fitness journey. I am so happy to be called an Tradewinds athlete!

Coach Andy is an Owner and Head Coach at Tradewinds. He grew up in traditional martial arts and uses that rigor and discipline in his CrossFit training. The more technical the movement, the better, with his specialty being the olympic lifts, especially the snatch.