Sometimes I feel like a walking billboard for Endorphin, or as I call it “my gym.”  But when a place makes such a difference in your life how can you not be?  My passion outside of the gym is my road bike.  Over the summer I’ve completed rides on my bike that I never dreamed I would be strong enough to complete.  My crowning jewel of the season was the double triple bypass.  Over the course of two days, I rode 240 miles and climbed over 22,000 feet.  I had planned on doing just one day of the ride, but through the encouragement and pushing of my fellow Endo’s and especially Chris Lindley, I decided just a week or so before to try for both days.  I hadn’t prepared like one probably should have, but I finished both days!  When I was exhausted on the ride, and didn’t want to climb another foot, I thought about what it would mean to go back to Endorphin and having not finished the ride.  I wanted to come back having finished the ride and share my success with my Endo friends and family more than I wanted to get off the bike.  As I crossed the finish line in tears, it meant so much more to me than just finishing two hard rides. It was a pivotal moment in my journey back to health and life.

I grew up a competitive swimmer and trained very seriously through the end of college. My life was swimming.  When that ended, as with many serious athletes, it was a struggle. I didn’t really know how to not be a swimmer, and how to find happiness in a life that didn’t involve 30 hours of training a week, and my swimming family.  Over the course of law school and my first years as a new lawyer, I gained 100 pounds, and stopped exercising.  I struggled with depression and feeling horrible about myself.  Over the next few years, I had moments or years where I would “get serious” about exercise and my health and would make some progress.  But it was never lasting.  On top of it, I began to have significant pain in my lower leg from a break I had sustained during law school.  I struggled with the pain on and off for years, but by 2009 and 2010, it had become so bad that even walking a couple of city blocks would put me in tears.  I survived by popping pain pills, and not doing any more activity than I had to.  Doctor after doctor told me there was nothing that could be done.  I was literally googling about voluntary amputation before I found a doctor who would really listen, and discovered that the fracture in my leg had never healed.  It meant another round of surgery and physical therapy, but after it was all done, I have never had that kind of pain in my leg again.  Of course, shortly after I had rehabbed the leg, I got into my second bike accident and injured my shoulder requiring yet another surgery.

When I joined Endo, I was about 3 months off that shoulder surgery, and I had just moved back to Denver after spending about six months away in Seattle.  I had been working out at a spin gym in Seattle and thought I was in fantastic shape.  My first class was a Warrior’s class with Nick.  Even at 5am, I walked in and Nick introduced himself with a big smile, and found a way to work with all my injuries. That first class (and a few after) were often miserable as a struggled, but miserable enough that I wanted to come back and do better.  I came to know all of the other Endo instructors, and loved how they would all push me, but also were cognizant of my injury limitations.

I would love to say that I came to Endorphin and was always dedicated and as “crazy” as I am now.  But that would hardly be the truth.  When I first joined, I struggled to get to classes, I often late canceled more than I showed up, and I made poor decisions that were stopping any progress that I had made in the gym.  But over the course of a few months, I became inspired by the people around me.  I got to know people at the gym through things like Stink & Drink, Endoholics events, and I was inspired by the people around me.  They accepted me for where I was in my journey, but walked the fine line of not letting me make excuses.

Now I wanted to get up at 4:15 and drive clear across town to Lowry, to go to Hellth class with Merritt and Chris, because in addition to getting a kickass workout, I get to be part of a group of warriors that are all striving to improve themselves day in and day out.  There is nothing more motivating, and nothing more satisfying than looking around and realizing that I’m one of them.  I’m often still one of the slowest in class, but thanks to hard work (and now specific training with Nick to help overcome my injuries), I’m starting to really see changes.  I’ve progressed to holding plank some of the time, and doing some pushups on my knees. I completed the Advocare challenge and have managed to lose about 30 pounds this summer.  I have a long way to go, but I’m on the right road, and I’m loving every minute of it. (ok, yea, I still don’t love burpees and yoga, but I’m working on that too.  But I get to be a part of place and a group of people that push me and challenge me to be a better athlete and a better person every day. I’m beyond blessed.