Check out Lily’s story. She has had to overcome and endure several obstacles, but continues to exude determination, leadership and drive. She is such a pleasure to have as a member of Balcones and is an inspiration to us all.
As with most good things in my life, all the benefits I’ve received from Balcones Fitness started on the Outlaw practice field. My first impression of the gym came in February of 2015 when Tanner visited the team to let us know about the opportunities available at the gym. I’ve learned a lot from my many years with the Outlaws, especially as it relates to how people generally treat or respond to us in our raggedy practice gear. Any type of diversity you can imagine, we’ve usually got it some way or another as a part of our team. People either respond (negatively) to it, or they don’t notice it all. Thankfully Tanner was of the latter – he was professional, kind, and expressed genuine eagerness to help the team be better athletes. For that alone, I initially decided BCF was probably a good place to be.
At this particular point in my life, I was 11 months off a major back surgery. At some point in my football career I had sustained a hairline fracture to my L4 vertebrae, which eventually became a full-on break as it went undiagnosed and untreated. It required some hardware installation and spine fusion to reunite the broken vertebrae. By Feb ’15 I was rehabbed “mostly” from the surgery itself and was running again, but I hadn’t been allowed to bend at the waist for the past 11 months, or pick up anything over 10 pounds – and still had 1 month to go before I was technically cleared to do these things. I also still had significant nerve damage in my left leg that needed to heal (it’s a slow process… an inch a month, and I had 27 inches of damage down the leg). Consequently, the nerve damage left me with the inability to feel what my left leg was doing at random times – I could tell what I was doing if I physically looked at my leg, but the innate ability for my brain to sense what my leg was doing wasn’t always there. My point – I desperately wanted to move around like normal on my own again. I wanted my strength and coordination back. I needed to rebuild myself, and I knew I needed someone other than myself to monitor this. I had finished my doctor-ordered therapy… so now it was up to me.
Given my own personal needs, and the fact that some of the Outlaws were giving it a shot, too – I signed up for a membership. Now, I had preconceived notions about Crossfit in general. I had been to a few events that featured “crossfit type” games, and I was appalled. My mouth fell open, I might have even shrieked. The form was bad, people were injuring themselves, it was comical. I had mentioned my concerns over learning proper form, especially since I didn’t really have the luxury to have bad form anymore. I quickly learned the assurances I was given were spot on – after only a few classes it was evident we were going to be doing things right, or you’d modify them until you could do them right. PERFECT! Additionally, everyone.. and I mean EVERYONE.. at the gym was so nice, so welcoming, and so good to me and my fellow Outlaws.
Fast forward a few months.. the girls (i.e. Outlaws also at BCF) are doing great, their efforts are translating to the field. (Our season was pretty tough overall, but we were short on bodies and experience – it’s a whole separate story!) Anyway, I was doing great. I felt great, I was sleeping great, I was picking up heavy things and putting them down in various different ways. My back felt great, my leg was still having its moments, but so what!? I’m feeling so high on life that I go ahead and commit to doing the Longhorn Ironman with my friend Chelsea from run group. (WHAT!!!??)
The Ironman was a hell of an experience. Every day leading up to it involved hours of work (after my actual job), and only a few rest days sprinkled throughout various weeks. During that time I also trained for / ran a full marathon in Seattle – it was the best one I’ve run and I couldn’t have been happier with it. All the work I had been putting in was showing up in my overall stamina and fitness levels. However, shortly after that marathon I picked up the pace on tri-training and it became clear I wasn’t sustaining plan because I just didn’t have the energy. I was always tired, always wanting to sleep, and I started to whine about stuff a lot more. I began using the workouts at BCF as a discipline tactic to make me put in the tri-training I had to do for that day. “If you can get to class, you can keep going after – no biggie. Just get to class, the rest is downhill”. Class time also meant I got to briefly connect with other BCF members, and at the time I didn’t realize how important that subtle connection and encouragement would become to me. I started following the advice of Tanner regarding my nutrition plan, and although training didn’t get easier – my ability to survive it and recover did! My only goal was to finish the Ironman, which I did. Other than the adverse conditions encountered along an already challenging course, I really can’t look back and complain – I was actually pretty happy during the entire event… even though it took ALL DAY! I thank my time at BCF for being an integral factor to achieving this goal.
My end point in all this rambling is this: Balcones has come to mean a lot to me. It started as a place to train my football girls and help me recover my overall movement and strength. It limited what some people cautioned was going to be a “life altering surgery” to being just this thing that got fixed. It’s since become what I consider a critical part of my day. I feel so blessed to be able to leave work, come to class – where I have grown to adore my fellow gym members – and close out that part of my day with an opportunity to make myself better (… and of course plenty of laughs, I love all the laughing!). I have coaches in Darla and Juan that have proven to be a perfect dose of encouragement and “make you do it right”. I truly believe that an environment is what you make it, and I’m always impressed and grateful for the wonderful environment everyone puts into BCF to make it this safe, fun, inclusive, positive, work-hard zone that I love. It’s meant the world to me, it’s one of my favorite places to be, and I’m forever grateful for the original outreach that got me there. Thank you BCF!
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