Post-race reward: Donuts!

Post-race reward: Donuts!

Rachel Myers and Ryan Jackson

City: Philadelphia, PA

Ages: 31 and 32

Occupations: Researcher and Engineering Manager (jobs that involve lots of sitting!)

What's your background when it comes to exercise?

Rachel: Before college, I played soccer and although I wasn’t the fastest or most skilled, I was active and loved playing on a team. In college, going to the gym was a social activity, including a brief stint on some cardio equipment before a trip to the dining hall. After college, I joined a gym, but was never successful at sticking with an indoor gym routine. I am not great at self-motivating for solitary exercise. Several years ago, I got up the nerve to try out a Pilates class and loved it. Unfortunately, returning to grad school disrupted most of my routines (and sucked up my free time) and it was another few years before I fell back into exercise. I would occasionally run and sometimes train for a race (usually 5Ks, once a half-marathon -- which I swore never to do again; more on that later), but I was never consistent with exercise. In early 2013, Ryan and I were both experiencing serious family issues and getting back into exercise was a mental health necessity. Our pending wedding was a little bit of a kick in the pants too! We stumbled onto Core Fitness Bootcamp. It was outside, it was with other people (a team!), and the rest is history.

Ryan: I played team sports through high school and then entered a decade of fluctuating between intense interest in health and exercise and intense laziness. I would get into running (or something else), lose a bunch of weight, get injured or bored or both, and balloon right back up. Regardless of what my activities were during this time, when they happened, they were solitary pursuits. There was no one encouraging me, or more important, holding me accountable. When we found Core Fitness I was massive and hugely intimidated, but they won me over very quickly. I found that exercising with a group, supporting each other, and forming connections made working out, well, less work. Finding a family-style group to welcome you and encourage you, and ensure your butt was out of bed really is a model that has proven super sustainable for me.

What's better than working out with your partner?

What's better than working out with your partner?

What inspired you to start working out?

Rachel: In early 2013, we were both experiencing a lot of stress and our lives felt increasingly chaotic. Exercise seemed like a good outlet for stress and a way to maintain some routine. Never ever underestimate the power of some vitamin D and a healthy dose of endorphins!  

Ryan: Initially I wanted to lose a few pounds for our wedding pictures, but I was quickly hooked and started setting new goals. I had enjoyed running in the past but injuries had excluded that as an option for me for a few years, so I also wanted to get back to running.


What was the turning point when you realized you had transformed from an exercise hater to an exercise lover?

Rachel: I was so nervous going to my first bootcamp class. In my head, it was going to be a bunch of super-fit people, bounding up the art museum steps and pumping out hundreds of push-ups without a grimace. Instead I found the most fantastic group of instructors and a warm and welcoming group of exercisers of all abilities. It took some time (and more than one “What on earth am I doing here?!” moment) to become hooked! I don’t know of a precise turning point, but when I willingly signed up for a second half-marathon (that thing I was never going to do again) and trained with a group of friends from classes, I’d take that as a pretty good sign I was firmly in the lover camp. (Note: The half-marathon was at the beach, which likely clouded my judgment!)  


What are your favorite workouts?                   

Rachel: Bootcamp, Pilates, and recently we’ve ventured into vinyasa yoga, which has proved a bit addictive.

Ryan: Bootcamp for fun and differentiation and running if you want time to think or to a great way to explore a new city. I travel a lot for work and try to squeeze in a run to see more than the inside of my hotel room.


When it comes to exercise, are you a pack trainer or a lone wolf? (Or a bit of both?)

Rachel: A total pack trainer. If I hadn’t found group exercise classes, I’d probably spend a whole lot more time sitting on my couch and a whole lot less money on new sneakers! The only way exercising is sustainable for me is if it is something I look forward to doing and being around people who are having fun and holding me accountable for showing up.

Ryan: More pack trainer. I enjoy running, but getting out the door is the problem, so even that to me is easier with a group run.

The couple that trains together, stays together.

The couple that trains together, stays together.

What’s the piece of workout gear that you can’t live without?

Rachel: I’m a sucker for a good-fitting pair of pants and a supportive sports bra.

Ryan: Durable running gloves. Ones that will keep you warm, aren’t too heavy, but also can be used for push-ups, outdoor planks, etc. Oh, and running tights for the winter; they’ve been invaluable this year.


What songs are on your go-to workout mix?

Ryan: I have a Spotify playlist that I’m always updating. It’s eclectic, but I love some “Pump it Up” by the great Elvis Costello and anything I can sing at my co-athletes to annoy them, or anything that makes you want to dance while running, planking, etc. Also, “Uptown Funk”…always “Uptown Funk.”


What’s your biggest workout obstacle, and how do you overcome it?

Rachel: Feeling too busy or telling myself that I have too little time to exercise. I’ve started adding an appointment for 6 am bootcamp to my calendar and it is invaluable in helping avoid the excuses and exhaustion that sets in by the end of the workday. That’s not to say that I’m not tempted to ignore my alarm, but there is a feeling of accomplishment that comes with being sweaty and back home by 7 am.

Ryan: Work.


What inspires you to work out?

Rachel: Ryan is a huge inspiration to me and our (mostly friendly) competition pushes me to work harder! He’s bounced back from a serious back injury and (probably won’t admit this) has worked his butt off over the last year or so and lost 90 pounds! Yup, 9-0! Totally inspiring! Also, being surrounded by our fun, strong Core Fitness family who are supportive and encouraging of one another is a daily inspiration. Our friends hold us accountable when we don’t come to class and are happy to share in a beer to celebrate an intense week. (Note: Yes, we drink beer. We also eat pizza and donuts. In moderation. Usually. Why else work out, if you don’t occasionally enjoy the foods you really, really love?)

Ryan: Rachel inspires me every day. I would really struggle to get out of bed if she didn’t encourage me. The ragging of fellow CoreFitters for missing class also helps. It’s hard not to be inspired when you see others transforming themselves or fighting through a struggling exercise.

Bench triceps go easier when you do them with your better half.

Bench triceps go easier when you do them with your better half.

What do you do when you feel as if you’ve hit a plateau or rut?

Rachel: Recently we’ve been signing up for races as training breaks up our routine a little.

Ryan: We also keep our eyes peeled for Living Social and Groupon-type deals for new classes and have found ourselves at Spin classes and yoga recently. But honestly, the variety we have found in the bootcamp classes really helps prevent that rut feeling.


What’s been the biggest benefit to becoming an exercise lover? Anything surprising?

Rachel: One of the biggest benefits for me has been that Ryan and I do this together. While I don’t always want to be his partner (he can be too chatty early in the morning), I love that we spend this time together most days.  

Ryan: It’s definitely time together with Rach and has helped our communication. It’s opened up our social life and we’ve found so many great friends.


What advice would you give to someone who hates exercise?

High-five situps, Rachel and Ryan-style!

High-five situps, Rachel and Ryan-style!

Rachel: I’d encourage anyone to try out an exercise class. One of the most wonderful things about the Core Fitness classes, is that everything is at your own working level and totally modifiable. I’m recovering from a broken wrist but was going stir crazy and needed to get back to exercise (warning: this happens when you are a “lover”).  I’ve spent the last month doing modifications of nearly everything and that’s 100% OK. There’s nothing I can’t do, just a lot of things I need to modify. With an awesome instructor, nearly everyone of all abilities should be able to participate in a class, so fear not!

Ryan: A good workout buddy is invaluable, someone to motivate you and cheer you on. Don’t be closed to anything. If you hate something, move on until you find something you do like because there are so many options out there, but don’t knock it until you try it!