Joining the gym – it changed my life!

My journey at my gym (Suncoast Fitness in Maroochydore) started officially on 9 October 2008.  But, my journey with them started a few days prior, when, suddenly one morning I woke up and had the thought ‘I cant do this anymore, something needs to change’.  I felt like a ‘fat nobody in a wheelchair’ and I just knew there was something out there better for me, and it just hit me – ‘Join a Gym’ – the feeling was like a bolt of lightning, I had to follow it.

After a number of phonecalls to various gyms/fitness centres, and a visit to a couple, I came away with a feeling of, maybe this isn’t the right way to go, I just don’t feel that THIS is the answer, somehow – but it kept niggling at me, to keep trying.  I kept Google-ing….searching… knowing that there WAS an answer out there somewhere,  and suddenly hit on ‘Suncoast Fitness’.   I called them the next day, and I got nothing but encouragement to come in.  They, unlike some others, were completely open in regards to fitness vs my disability.  At another centre, I had received “yeah, we might be able to find something for you to do” (the disability seemed to be a ‘block’ to them) – this was not the answer, I wasn’t “looking for something to do”, I was “NEEDING for something to change”.  I received brick walls at other places…at Suncoast, I received an open door, even on the telephone.  Awesome.  I had my ‘answer’.

Suncoast Fitness PT, Mike - who was to become instrumental on my journey of self belief and fitness

I wandered in the gym door, and was greeted with a welcoming, smiley face of one of the Trainers at the gym – the very thing I needed, to encourage me to continue going through that door…I was quite nervous and wondering if this really was my answer.  This particular trainer (along with others who assisted and trained me along the way) was to become instrumental in my striving to keep going, that I CAN do it – even when, especially at the beginning (and at the many times that my body/health has let me down), when I just was not aware at that stage, just what my body was capable of, or at times felt ‘is this all worth it, really?’ – this man just seemed to know even if he didn’t know me well at the time, that I was more capable of what I, myself thought I was.  In fact, every staff member at Suncoast who Ive met and who has taken their time to train me or advise me has been nothing short of fantastic with me, and I cannot thank them enough, for their encouragement and support.  What Im also impressed about is, the way I wasn’t just blindly led into doing ‘any old exercise’, staff did their research re spina bifida, and made sure I was doing the right thing.  In fact, the injuries Ive sustained while at the gym, were of my doing (oops!) – my determined mind is my undoing at times….to want to push the limits even further!  Show me I can do something…and I always want to take it to the next level, immediately! Haha…

Slowly, over the next few months, sure enough, things began to change, not only in my body, but in the place that I NEEDED to change – in my mind.  I suddenly realised, I am not just ‘a fat nobody in a wheelchair’, I am ME, a woman, Tania!   That feeling was something I hadn’t felt for a long time…and what also brought me to this was, the sense of belonging Ive obtained while at the gym…even just chatting with other members, and friends, between sets etc, that’s awesome – Im just ‘one of the crowd, working out’ when Im at that gym…Im not ‘a disabled person out in the community’, I am Tania, a member here, and I BELONG.

My ‘gym journey’ has been a constant up & down battle…but my MIND has won every single time.  That’s half the battle with life…if you can get the mind right – the rest follows naturally.  As Ive  proven to myself time and time again.  Ive had to take several ‘injury/illness breaks’ away from the gym, and exercise in general – but what Ive found is that, even when Im not able to be there, I really miss the place!  Im not sure whether its to do with the awesome feelings of achievement I get every time I work out there, or whether it’s the fabulous people (staff and members alike)…maybe it’s a combination of both!

Fast forward, over many ups and downs with my health, but getting back to the gym whenever Ive been able to…little did I know that, three years down the track in late 2011, I would be reaching for my crutches (I haven’t walked since 1994 when I had injuries to my right foot which landed me ‘prematurely’ in my wheelchair) and walking, slowly, down the walkway at the gym…Wow!  I remember that day like it was yesterday – I was inspired to get up and walk, by hearing about a man in a wheelchair who was, along with a team of ‘pushers’, endeavouring to complete the Melbourne Half-Marathon (21km), that day.  No, he wasn’t pushing his chair the entire distance himself, but he completed the marathon HIS way.

ANYTHING is possible, we can just do things in our own individual ways….but we still do them.

This ‘getting up and walking’ stirred a fire deep inside of my belly…and I got to thinking….hmmm….maybe, just maybe, I may be able to achieve what I thought was previously impossible??

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