A lifetime of fitness begins with one goal

posted on Tuesday, January 29, 2013

364 weeks ago I joined Mercy Fitness Center in Cedar Rapids Iowa with a simple goal: go as many times a week as possible for a month to get back in shape – then quit to maintain my weight on my own.

To give you a little background, I am in sales, so my work is not that physically demanding. I have worked-out at various fitness centers and gyms on and off for most of my life but had let it go for several years. I found myself out of shape and about 10-20 pounds overweight – not real bad but enough to get a little winded doing the “commercial dash” to the refrigerator..

I selected Mercy Fitness Center because of its older clientele and the pay-by-the-month membership.

The first week went well, I had a full assessment and the staff at Mercy set up a work-out regiment for me to follow. I was off to a good start. The second week came and went then the third…I was still alive and working out 3-4 times a week. When I finished the fourth week I decided I needed to give it one more month so I signed up for another.

At the end of the 6th week I had lost the ten pounds I wanted to lose. I was so excited I told my trainer. The next day I found a hand written note from her in my workout chart congratulating me. That note was the deciding point for me; I signed up for 3 more months.

Hand written congratulations note

The first three month membership soon turned into a second three month membership. I would plan my vacations so I could get in a work out, and I didn’t miss a week!

I was averaging 2-3 workouts a week when a friend told me about a Pilates class she was taking and what that had done to strengthen her core muscle. I soon joined a Pilates class on Monday nights. I liked this workout – intense exercises that did not last long before changing to something else. When asked what Pilates was I would say my daily work outs were for the big muscles and Pilates was for all the little ones in-between. 3 years later the instructor left, so I decided to try Yoga.

Our instructor was a bit of a free spirit. She often included some interesting and challenging poses in her classes. I soon discovered yoga was not as easy as I had thought. One of the first poses we attempted was a head stand up against a wall. I didn’t have any problem with this but wanted to be able to do one without the wall.

I continued the yoga class every week, building flexibility and range-of-motion, an asset to me as a SCUBA diver for Linn County Underwater Search and Recovery.


Eventually the health center resumed their Pilates class, increasing my weekly workouts to 3-4 sessions of cardio/ weight lifting workouts plus Pilates and yoga. I find this regiment works well for me, the daily sessions are 35 -40 minutes long so I don’t dread going to them and the Pilates and yoga are now as much a social gathering as they are workouts.

I have worked out every week for 364 weeks, that’s 7 years! I am nearly 61 years old. Because of my commitment to fitness I can still do everything I could do when I was 20 and maybe even a little better. I don’t mind getting old as long as I can still do the things I love to do.

I reached a few goals beyond losing those first ten pounds including the head stand without the wall, which took me 1 ½ years to master. The confidence that came from achieving that goal was very rewarding.

That note from my trainer…. it’s still in my workout chart.

John headstand

Story submitted by John Fields, Cedar Rapids, Iowa