After chatting with a friend about how much she loves the non-physical benefits of her gym membership (see the post here), it got me thinking about the type of relationships we strive to cultivate at Elevated Fitness.
Like Amber, some of you are lucky enough to have found a fitness family. At Elevated Fitness, and especially our High Plains Boot Camp, the bonds we form could mean the difference between going through the motions and achieving goals you might not have considered possible. We recognize that hard work, a good sweat, balancing life, and sharing a few laughs keeps our group together. EF's stellar clients are the nucleus of our awesome fitness family. And although we certainly don't play favorites, one woman stands out as a driving force behind our family: Denise Christian.
You could say I sort of "inherited" Denise. When I was in the early stages of getting boot camp rolling, I befriended a local fit pro who was moving. She wanted to leave her own gang in good hands, and I was happy to fill her shoes. Denise was one of her regular participants. Over the years, Denise morphed into a kind of third instructor at HPBC. Sure, her history as an athlete and avid sports fan were evident, but her ability to reach out to others is her greatest strength. She may not call the shots like Meryl or myself, but she really helps others follow through! As Meryl put it to me recently, Denise is like the OG.
Denise is her classmates' biggest champion. She encourages others to push for another rep or to pick up the pace. It is what she does best. I have personally seen her drag her sweaty self off the floor and head out into the brutal heat and wind for an extra lap "just because"; and doing the same when she finishes her work before others. Her willingness to push is contagious, and the rest of the gang typically follows suit. Her fitness has improved in so many ways, and she continues to give others a run for their money.
I know I will get some flack for saying this, but Denise is our unequivocal den mother. Her support extends far outside of the hour we spend together as sweat sisters and brothers. She loves to give and is always sharing healthy recipes, funny stories, and little gifts with her fellow boot campers. And although I know her classmates benefit from Denise's camaraderie, they should know that they mean so much more to her.
You see, to Denise, the other HPBC participants are not mere clients. She knows the regulars by name, and is always the first to welcome a new face; she gathers groups to run 5Ks and mud runs, and cheers on those doing marathons and triathlons; she organizes healthy potlucks (and readily accepts any recommendations on new wine...sorry, D, I had to.). Her classmates share date nights; their kids gather for afternoon play dates. Denise and the gang see one another nearly every day, and check in with the missing crew members when they don't show for a session. And in scarier situations, Denise has let Meryl or myself know about an unhealthy situation a fellow client may be in. We love each other and want the best, healthiest outcomes for our little family.
Sometimes members of our family decide to check out the competition, or need reliable childcare during their workouts (the latter is the biggest hurdle for Meryl and I). Since we are so close, these situations sting a bit, but that's life. And all former clients are always a part of the gang. We welcome them back at any time, and still say hello when we bump carts at Albertsons. We also see our fair share of clients move away, thanks to the large military presence in the local area. Denise, as well as others, has hosted going-aways and fare-thee-wells. Leaving family is never easy, but it helps to have a formal get-together to let everyone say goodbye.
Everyone knows that exercising in a group or training with a team increases adherence to a prescribed program. But the personal connections that form when distributing the load, that's the glue that keeps our group together. When members of our family (or their own families) fall ill, we rally and pick each other up. It's not uncommon to find a small group gathering after class to pray for an ill friend or for guidance through a daughter's rocky pregnancy. And when we need a little comic relief, we can count on a funny story from Denise. What was that one about a bouncy med ball and a bruised chin?
We rejoice in each other's achievements, too, encouraging each other to reach for a PR or to pick up the pace. When Meryl, our new-at-the-time HPBC instructor, went back to New England to get married, the crew sent her off with snacks, music, gifts, and cards to keep her occupied. We support each other. We are a family. And when I moved to Kentucky, I had the best send-off a girl could ask for. Lots of tears, laughs, and reflection on a wonderful community of not only clients, but friends. No...family.
Before I left Clovis in 2014, I created EF Legacy t-shirts for clients that met certain criteria. Time spent with the company was the biggest factor, but dedication to a healthy, fit lifestyle ran a close second. Truthfully, Denise deserves so much more than a silly t-shirt. A sceptor or something flashy would be far more appropriate. But really, what do folks like Denise get from their dedication and commitment? They get a second family. They get a group of people that understands the demands of living a balanced life while incorporating coach-led, rigorous training sessions. They get friends to compete not only against, but with.
Thanks, Denise, for all you do!
Do you want to show Denise some love? Share a story or some kind words below.