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Fitness Addict Turned Dedicated Yogi: One Students’ Story

If you asked me 10 years ago what yoga meant to me, I would have said, “Nothing. It’s just stretching.” If you asked me the same question 5 years ago, I would’ve said, “It’s a good thing to do once a month, but it’s not a workout.” If I were to get that same question today, I’d have a totally different answer.

“Yoga has changed my life!”

I’ve been a fitness addict for 10 years. Growing up, I was never an athlete. I hated gym class, and you wouldn’t catch me playing on my school’s sports teams. When I was 17, I decided to get into shape. I made a complete lifestyle change and have been working at it ever since. My fitness addiction started with Billy Blanks Tae Bo. I would do one of those DVDs at least four times a week for almost two years. From there, I started jogging.

When I moved to Philadelphia at age 21, I joined a gym and a running club. That’s when the real addiction started. At one point, I was cross training seven times a week. After that I started running 50 to 60 miles a week. Sometimes I would run 10 miles before going to work. Did I love doing it all at the time? Yes. But the reason for doing all of this was just to get skinny.
As a true fitness addict, I thought I knew everything about fitness and weight loss. There was no way yoga could ever help me. It wasn’t until a little more than one year ago that I realized how wrong I was.

I moved to Jersey City to work in New York last September. Right before, I was struggling to keep up my fitness game and was slacking compared to what I normally did. But I still worked out four times a week). I gained about 10 or 15 pounds which was very significant for me. I immediately joined Barry’s Bootcamp and was trying to go 5 to 6 times a week. Do you know how expensive that was?!!!

My friend Sam invited me to come to Powerflow Yoga with her. She was in the middle of her first 20 in 30 Challenge and was already a hardcore yogi. I’ll admit, I kind of turned my nose up at the offer at first. But I decided to give it a shot because I was always curious about hot yoga because I like to sweat. My first class was with Anayra Calderon who has become my good friend. When I got there I felt very confident. As soon as the class started I became intimidated instead. How were these people standing on their heads and forearms? What the heck is a crow pose? I still loved the class. It felt like a work out. But I couldn’t believe what I saw on my heart rate monitor: I had burned the same amount of calories as I would have taking a cross training class!

I started going to Powerflow in Hoboken one to two times a week. It was a good workout and a nice break from Barry’s Bootcamp. I loved the classes but I couldn’t do a ton of the poses. I wanted to stand on my head and do handstand and crow. I used to come home and practice and get really frustrated when I couldn’t do it. I started my first 20 in 30 challenge in April 2015. That forced me to go to class 4 to 5 times a week. I decided to just let go, have fun and get through the challenge. I didn’t care if I couldn’t stand on my head, and it seemed impossible.

Once I let go, things started happening. My crow pose was finally sticking; my handstand hops starting getting higher; and, one day, I was standing on my head! I will never forget that feeling. I had finally done it after months of thinking how impossible it was. After that month, I stuck to practicing Yoga at least four times a week, and I’m so happy I did. I lost that extra 15 pounds, and I am truly happier. When I’m on my mat nothing else matters. How did I not figure this out sooner? I regret turning my nose up at yoga for so many years!

Running 50 miles a week or cross-training six times a week made me feel good, but I looked the same. It wasn’t until I started practicing yoga that I started to see my body change. My waist became smaller; my belly started to flatten; and I now have definition in my arms. I used to lift heavy weights six times a week, and I never saw so much definition in my arms.
Yes, I still want to be skinny, but it’s honestly not as important to me anymore. Yoga has made me feel better about myself in so many ways. I feel calmer, more understanding and I’m definitely more excited to workout when I’m headed towards my mat. I invite every fitness addict out there to give yoga a real shot. It changed my life and I bet it can change yours.

–Colleen Shea

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