When I was in eighth grade, I started working out with a personal trainer. Once a week, we would meet at the gym and do a variety of full-body workouts with a mix of weights, machines, and calisthenics. Working out with a trainer made me comfortable in a gym setting, got me familiar with lifting weights, and greatly improved my performances as a swimmer and a tennis player. We continued our weekly sessions until I went away to college, and even in school, I kept up a pretty regular gym routine where I lifted at least a few days a week.
It wasn't until I moved to New York after college that my regular gym routine got completely derailed. I didn't have a gym membership for the first few months I was in the city, relying instead on bodyweight exercises I could do in my apartment and runs around Central Park. When I finally did get a gym membership, it was to a tiny club that only had a small weight room and a few cardio machines. Since I could only squeeze in my workouts in the mornings before work, I found myself half-assing it in the weight room. I would run for about 30 minutes on the treadmill, then maybe do a few reps with dumbbells before I needed to rush to the showers and get ready for work.
This got me in a rut where I would sometimes skip the weight room altogether. I got in a bad habit of doing mostly cardio: running on the treadmill or outside a few days a week, and a Spin class another two days a week. As much as I liked cardio for the endorphins, I knew I needed to add weights back into my routine to see progress and get stronger. Whenever I did make time for the weight room, I could only do solid reps with eight pounders, a far cry from my previous 12-pound dumbbell days.
It wasn't until I joined Orangetheory Fitness (OTF) for the five months before my wedding that I really started to embrace the weight rack again. Orangetheory is a boutique fitness class that combines weight training with cardio in the form of running on the treadmill and rowing on the row machine. Since you spend about 30 minutes on the floor with weights, it got me familiar with dumbbell exercises again. It brought back all the workouts I used to do with my trainer: upright rows, standing deadlifts, goblet squats, and reverse lunges, to name a few.
After a few weeks of doing Orangetheory twice a week, I could feel myself getting stronger. I went from 10-pound dumbbells to 12 pounds and eventually 15 pounds. I totally transformed my solo gym sessions; I incorporated more weight exercises into my routine on the days I wasn't at OTF, and if I had only 40 minutes, I would spend at least half of that time weight training. I started to notice more definition in my arms, especially in my triceps, and could carry heavier grocery bags around.
Now, I make sure to weight train at least two days a week. Whenever I feel myself falling back into a rut, I make sure to sign up for another Orangetheory class to mix things up and get inspired to incorporate more weights into my routine. I'm just as confident to pick up the heavier weights on the weight rack as I was in high school, knowing I can bust out a few reps and burn some serious calories.