How Group Fitness Changed (and Maybe Even Saved) My Life

We also enjoy hearing the success stories from our members about how they transform their bodies, minds and spirits at O2 Fitness. But one member shares why he truly believes that his time here at O2 Fitness possibly saved his life. Read on to hear about Lawrence Bivins’ story.

How Group Fitness Classes Saved My Life

Pictures don’t lie. Mirrors might, but a photograph will tell you the cold truth.

One snapshot certainly gave me the real lowdown, and it was enough to set me on a path to fitness and wellness that can best be described as life changing and, possibly, life saving.

The offending photo was taken by the state DMV upon getting my driver’s license renewed. The bloated features in that image were a far cry from the face I once had. I had to ask myself: Was that really me?

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The photo that prompted Lawrence to start his fitness journey

The scales in the O2 Seaboard locker room (then Seaboard Fitness) confirmed the horrifying reality later that day: just a whisker under 200 pounds. I had major work to do – and I needed help.

In October 2009, I dug deep to engage two exceptional fitness trainers at Seaboard for twice-a-week personal training. Their creative, exhausting workouts came with valuable, sensible advice on nutrition and calorie management. Among our many goals: I would weigh 165 pounds by the following July – exactly five years ago next month.

I consider the expense of personal training not as a price paid but an investment made. And that investment in myself continues to return noticeable dividends. Dramatic weight-loss stories are a dime a dozen. Not all of them prove sustainable five years on. For me, the key to maintaining – even improving on – the impressive results of my personal training has been the excellent group exercise program at O2 Fitness.

I had walked past fitness classrooms for years under the assumption that group exercise just wasn’t for me. But after mustering the courage to give it a try, I found my preconceived notions way off base.

It began modestly with 30-minute classes. As I became more and more comfortable with the scene and the format, I branched into more ambitious offerings. Soon I was doing back-to-back classes – two full hours of intense exercise in some cases.

And the group fitness instructors at O2 Fitness? They’re fantastic! Like everyone, I have my favorites, but all instructors bring something unique into the hour – new coaching points, a metaphor that makes a once-impossible move seem simple, a motivating phrase that keeps me pushing, a supportive smile. I’m frequently in awe of the quality of the instructors – not only as exercise experts, but as dedicated professionals, trusted leaders and caring people.

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Lawrence post Group X class with the instructor

Fitness classes aren’t just convenient and economical. The energy and excitement generated through group exercise, keeps me stoked about training. There are inspiring roles models in every direction. I’ve come to appreciate the collaboration and camaraderie of intense movement alongside peers: that subtle glance of encouragement, the collective gasps of exhaustion, a sweaty fist-bump. These things matter. So does the 24/7 accountability I’ve tapped through social media. Fail to show up for a few days, and I’ll hear about it on Facebook.

Shedding 35 pounds while building muscle resulted in obvious changes both outside and in. No longer do I squeeze into pants with a tight 35-inch waist; I slide comfortably into size 31’s now. Gone are my cholesterol and acid-reflux meds. Doctors marvel at my mellow blood pressure and resting pulse rate, as well as other indicators of excellent heart health. Better blood sugar management reduced my risk for diabetes and even improved my dental health, too.

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You can almost always find Lawrence in BodyPump

I find the Les Mills classes ideal for building on results gained through personal training. Here’s why:

* BodyPump provides great full-body strength training, mixing in some cardio and core work. Done two or three times a week, Pump lays a firm foundation for staying strong and keeping a high-octane metabolism.

* RPM offers reliable and efficient calorie incineration without the high-impact “slam” of many cardio exercises. An added benefit for me: something about a cycling class really clears and relaxes my mind.

* CXWorx is also part of my regular rotation. A strong core improves performance across my fitness program and beyond, enabling better cycling, weight-lifting, running, balancing. Even my household chores are easier.

* BodyCombat – my personal favorite – also provides a deceptively intense core workout while torching serious calories. For me, Combat is pure balls-to-the-wall fun!

* BodyAttack integrates athletic training with high-energy cardio, core work and a really festive mood. It’s a fat-burning party! Best of all, Attack is available in 30-, 45- and 60-minute versions.

I try to adopt one new class into my rotation each year. My most recent addition is BodyFlow. Borrowing moves and principles from yoga, tai-chi and Pilates, Flow complements everything I do, stretching new muscle, relieving achy joints and tendons, improving balance and freeing up a few quiet minutes to contemplate – and appreciate – the overlapping physical, mental and social benefits of fitness.

In addition to the Les Mills classes, I inject freestyle group fitness into the mix – Total Body Conditioning, Cardio Interval, power yoga, and occasional boot camps, TRX and barre classes. Engaging in a broad array of options keeps my body guessing.

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Lawrence isn’t afraid to show his license picture anymore

I’m occasionally reminded of how far group fitness has taken me when young cashiers at the ABC Store ask to see my driver’s license — flattering for a guy also getting mail from AARP. But I’m glad to show them. These days the picture on my license is that of a much happier, healthier and energized me.

And remember: a photo doesn’t lie.

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Happy. Healthy. And loving life!

 

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