By Nikki Lewis
Personal story contributed by Valeria Robinson

I’ve never believed in New Year’s Resolutions, always thinking if you really wanted to commit to doing something that much that you would start now and not wait for the year to change before you changed.  If you want to learn to play the guitar then find a guitar and start strumming on it today.  Losing weight was like that for me. When I made a decision to learn how to lead a healthier lifestyle, and lost some weight as a result, I remember right where I was and what I was doing because the commitment was that important and life changing to me.  I started immediately.

There is no secret, magic pill, or trick to it so stop searching. I’m encouraging you to read on and learn more about one of our member’s, Valeria, as she shares her inspiration story of deciding to become healthy and  how group fitness has been key to her success.  She has a heart of gold, and I respect her for her amazing ability to always find a way to keep going.  She mentions our fearless leaders at Brickhouse, me, and many of our favorite instructors and members. Here is her journey in her own words.

My name is Valeria Robinson. I’m 40 years old, and this is my Brickhouse Cardio Club Gahanna story. I have dealt with being overweight for most of my life. I had been dealing with a devastating injury I received in 2007 where I almost lost my leg and suffered permanent nerve damage in my right foot. I had been using my injury as an excuse for gaining more weight.  In January of 2014, I was at my highest weight ever at 439lbs. I was miserable and battling depression. On January 19th 2014, I decided to hit my local Y, and after a week, I got my membership.

With my membership, I received a coupon for 20 Y bucks that I could use for any class.  I put it in my wallet and almost forgot about it. I met with a wellness coach who got me on the right track and suggested that take fitness classes.  I was reserved and petrified, but after a month I took my first Zumba class.  I was hooked. I noticed that the Y had Aqua Zumba and realized that I could use my Y bucks to pay for the extra class. From watching other Aqua classes, I assumed that this was going to be a class geared to senior citizens. With apprehension, I grabbed my towel and water shoes and headed to Sunday’s class.

When I arrived at the pool, there were several other women waiting for class.  Surprising to me, most of them were my age or under.  I felt a little more confident, and knowing that the water would cover most of my body, I jumped in and was ready for class.  In bopped this fiery red head in cycling shorts. Her name was Kris. Immediately I thought, “What a dork!” Not meant to be an insult, because I consider myself a dork.  She started the class and began singing to every song.  I wasn’t sure if I liked the class yet because we hadn’t done much, at least that’s what my body thought. We got about half way thru the class, then we started the song “Acapella”. This crazy redhead was squealing along with the song. I was keeping a straight face, but inside I was laughing.  This was my kind of people.

I attended several Aqua Zumba classes and began to talk to Kris about my other Zumba class. She gave me an invite to attend her other classes.  I waited a few weeks, then quietly found a spot in the corner of the room.  I struggled thru the class because I found Kris to be a little more “dancy” than I was used to.  I decided to just stick to Aqua Zumba with her.  One day we were getting ready for Aqua Zumba and we began discussing another water class.  She corrected me when I said “Aqua in motion” and she said the class was “water in motion”. Before I knew it, I blurted out “Why you gotta be all correcting me like that yo?” I thought to myself, “OMG, did I just say that out loud.” Next thing I know, Kris and the others were all laughing.  My dorkiness didn’t offend anyone.

 After our Aqua class, I decided to friend Kris on Facebook.  I didn’t think she would accept my request because I was sure she had no idea who I was.  Within a matter of minutes she had accepted my friend request. From that point on, I decided to give her Zumba classes another try.  With each class, I found those “Dancy” moves not so difficult any more. I began taking all of her classes except cycling.  (My booty is in no way prepared for cycling) and she was calling me by my name.  Kris was already friends with many of her students and I finally felt like one of the cool kids.  Every time I walked into class, I was greeted by her and several of the ladies in the class. I was in better shape than I had been in a long time. I had lost over 100lbs and my depression had taken a back seat to all of the fun I was having during class.

Then, the inevitable happened. I injured myself.  I pulled a muscle in the back of my knee by kicking a stupid extension cord in Zumba class. I made it thru class but was in a lot of pain.  Kris suggested I use the R.I.C.E. method to take care of my injury.  After several weeks, I was able to return to class, I almost begged for Kris to yell at my squat posture because I had missed class so much.

A few weeks later, Kris had invited us to do a Breast Cancer fundraiser Zumbathon. Only a few of us were going, so I asked if could carpool because I was having car issues at the time.

We arranged a carpool and we were all to meet at her house.  I was the first one to arrive and Kris welcomed me into her home.  We had a few minutes of girl time and then loaded into the car.  I must say that the best part of the fundraiser was the car ride.  We even saw a zebra.

Soon after the fundraiser, Kris had announced that she was opening her own fitness club.  Brickhouse Cardio Club. I was sad that she was leaving the Y, but I believe in supporting everyone’s dreams. She had asked if anyone would be willing to help get the studio. I was so excited to be a part of the invite because I considered Kris and several of the other ladies my Zumba family. It was such a great time getting the studio together.  I spent several days painting and putting things together for our new fitness home, and the Zumba breaks were so much fun.

The Brickhouse Cardio Club Gahanna Grand Opening was beyond amazing.  So many people came together to make Kris and David’s dream came true. I’m still sad that I missed their wedding because they really are an awesome pair, and so many people came out to see the new facility.  It was wall to wall people and everyone had such a great time.  As I looked around at all of the people, I couldn’t help but smile. This group was the best support system I have ever had in my life. Brickhouse Cardio Club was my fitness home, a home I gladly poured many hours of my sweat and tears into. When my car was completely broken down, Kris and David came to pick me up for class. Even when I didn’t respond to messages and phone calls, Kris was knocking on my door at 8am to get me there. How many gym owners do that?  Not many.

Group fitness classes have powerful impacts on the lives of their participants in far reaching ways beyond fitness and weight loss.  Working out with your friends, people you know, or the random person you don’t know at gym can reduce your stress, boost your mood, and increase your confidence.  Deciding to drop a few pounds in a Zumba or BODYPUMP class can lead you down paths you never imaged.  You can meet great friends, pull yourself out of a rut, finally meet your weight loss goals, and change your life.  Don’t just imagine what you will lose in our studio, but rather think of what you will gain.

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Brickhouse Fitness
520 State Street
Proctorville, OH 45669
(304) 633-1970

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