By Darren Floro-Bryant
To me, fitness is like religion. The sights, the smells, the sounds, the order along with the disorder; all of it motivates me to focus on ME and the power I possess within me. I am generally at peace when I work out. I know this seems like an odd perspective to have with regards to the environment and the visual stimulations that surround me in the gym, but to me, it is my time.
I try to share my perspective and passion with others in any way that I can, but generally only when asked. I don’t assume what works for me is shared by others. I try to understand that every single individual has their motivators and reasons within them.
I didn’t always feel this way about fitness. When I was growing up, I was always the chubby kid (possibly just like you). I was never really into sports. I was usually picked last when team sports were organized at school or on the playground. I never thought I wanted to be fit. What I did know is I did not want to be chubby. The thing that was really holding me back was I really didn’t know what I needed to do to change it.
The “choice” was made for me. I was getting braces, and the orthodontist said that I needed to have jaw surgery due to a severe underbite. He said my jaw would most likely have to be wired shut post-surgery. I looked into it and found out that if my jaw was to be wired shut, I would have to be on a liquid diet, and I would lose weight rapidly. I would most likely gain more weight back when I could eat solid food again.
This was when I decided to make fitness my choice. I started watching what I ate and started exercising every morning before work. It was not easy, but I kept telling myself “Nobody’s going to do this for you.” I began using my mother’s at home ski machine. I remember seeing some changes and started getting the confidence to go to the local gym (where I worked in the kitchen serving wings – yes, the gym served wings) to start taking aerobics and step classes. This is where everything changed for me.
I lost more weight, started getting stronger, but more importantly, I started finding myself. I discovered what I was passionate about. I started making new friends at the gym and even started venturing upstairs into the weight room. I was gaining control of my weight and my body.
Luckily, I did NOT have to have my jaw wired shut after the surgery! I could eat regular food (mushy), but I still had control over what I ate. I quickly returned to my workout routine of mainly classes and a bit more time in the weight room. I continued to lose weight but thought I was healthy. I recall lying in bed and feeling really excited that I could feel my hip bone so definitively. I was 6 feet tall and weighed 155 pounds. That was just about the point when I realized this too was not healthy, just as I thought being the chubby kid was not healthy.
This is when I started to live my life, but realistically. Everything that I had cut out of my diet to lose the weight I started adding back in, but in moderation. I did not deprive myself of things but rather enjoyed these things, but with the understanding and knowing when it was enough. Fitness also changed for me; I started looking at it as fun and an enhancement to my life, rather than the means to keep me from being chubby.
To make a long story short, I got certified as a group fitness trainer (or Aerobics instructor back then) and started sharing my approach with the people that took my classes. From there, the next step for me was getting certified as a personal trainer. Even though there have been some hiccups in the journey, I have always remained true to myself and my reasons why I work out and stay fit.
Working out and staying fit should make life easier; looking better is just a byproduct. You are in control of you, and yes, I still remind myself that “nobody is going to do it for you.”
Darren Floro-Bryant is originally from Ontario, Canada, but now lives and works in Atlanta, GA. Darren has worked as a certified Group Fitness Instructor, Fitness Coach, and Personal Trainer for more than 25 years. Currently he owns DFB Fitness and Foundation Fitness – check him out at DFBFitness.com / FoundationFitness.co.