Over the last year, the challenges of the pandemic offered me a lot of opportunities for reflection about what I want and what's important to me. Ultimately I realized that my health and wellness needed to be a much higher priority. I found myself craving more time outside and more time to explore what activities bring me joy and connection. I work from home for a small non-profit which offered me the flexibility to relocate from southern Maine to a little house on a hill in Dixmont to continue that journey.
Dixmont has offered me a lot of what I and my sweet dog, Pepper, were looking for, but I realized pretty quickly that the work that goes along with maintaining a little house on a hill might also require a bit more physical strength--lugging firewood, building and repairing fences, and home repairs were all new and uncharted territory for me and my body. Then about three weeks after I moved, I volunteered with our local fire department and started training to become a firefighter. That's when the idea that I might need to be stronger turned into a certainty. If I wanted to help my community in this way and do it well, I needed to integrate something more into my routine than dog walks and yoga practice. As someone who has always been pretty intimidated by weights and never felt comfortable in gyms, I didn't know where to start. Fortunately, that's when I saw Skye Fitness featured by Black Owned Maine on Instagram, and I reached out to start personal training.
1) Why did you choose personal training as opposed to the millions of free programs online?
Two reasons: safety and accountability. I've had issues with upper back and neck pain for a long time, and I knew that working with a professional would help ensure that I was working out safely and with good form (Skye came through on this 100%. She's meticulous about form and so skilled at adapting exercises to my body, not just my goals). Making the investment in personal training helped me make sure I didn't take it for granted and showed up even when I didn't want to, even when I was tired, even when I was sore. I always left feeling grateful I made it, but definitely needed that extra motivation on hard days.
2) What has been your greatest achievement since you've been working out?
Surviving back-to-back personal training sessions and barre class on Saturday mornings, and being able to jump rope for 20 seconds without tripping are high up on the list. But in October I graduated from the Penobscot County Fire Academy, a two-week firefighter training program which was the most physically demanding challenge I've been through by far. I'm quite certain I wouldn't have gotten through it without the preparation with Skye. At the Academy I was able to focus on learning instead of worrying about whether I could do the physical skills required of firefighters. Skye had already taught me that it didn't matter how hard it looked, I was perfectly capable of seeing it through.
3) What advice would you give someone who is ready to start working out?
This isn't advice, but rather a statement of fact: We're stronger than we think we are. My advice is to walk your fitness journey alongside people who understand that to be true, who celebrate with you, and remind you of your strength when you forget. Skye did that for me, and I'm so glad for her positive outlook and her confidence in me throughout the process.
4) What is a fun fact about you we may not know?
I take a nap after Saturday barre class. 😂 I had to learn at least as much about rest and recovery as I learned about exercises and muscle groups through all of this.
Thank you for sharing your inspiring story, Erin!