Relatively speaking, I’m new to the world of running and fitness. I didn’t grow up playing sports (my very traditional parents put me in dancing, while my brother played team sports). I layered gym clothing over jeans in intermediate school because I neither cared to participate nor felt comfortable undressing in the locker room. I pursued a career path in an industry that valued skinny over strong.
So you can imagine the reactions of friends and family when, one day 10 years ago, the CEO of my company invited anyone to take part in a corporate team initiative to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team In Training and compete in a triathlon on Hawaii’s big island (Kona).
“But Sam, you haven’t even raced a 5K.”
“But Sam, you don’t swim.”
“But Sam, you don’t own a bike.”
These very juvenile inhibitors — to a sport I now have come to learn as a very competitive one — didn’t seem to usurp the excitement and joy I felt at the idea of something new. Something that piqued the interest of a girl who grew up around sports but never played them. Of a girl who in high school showed up to a track meeting and after feeling intimidated left to meet friends at the mall.
I would get a bike. I would learn to swim. And I would do this with a bunch of other first-timers by my side. (The power of community, huh?). I showed up to my first coached/group run in leggings layered underneath a pair of terrycloth bebe shorts and a pair of sneakers selected more for fashion than for function. I’ll never forget how it felt to be so obviously new at something.
Fast forward 10 years and that feeling of newness is now something I crave. Whether it’s showing up to a Rumble boxing class without any notion of how to box, signing up for a mountain race (yes, they’re a thing) at an altitude of 12,000 feet while training at sea level, or being the new kid at one of DC Run Crew’s workouts having never (I mean, ever) run around a track — that newness encompasses every fitness professional’s mantra of “get comfortable with getting uncomfortable.” Why? Because that’s where we grow. It’s where we develop empathy. It’s where we get stronger — emotionally, physically, mentally.
I identify as a runner first, with a love of triathlon and adventure second. Many people ask me how to run and in the same breath share they hate running and don’t understand how I could run for so long and enjoy it. I often say to them: Then you shouldn’t do it. I run because it brings me joy.
Sure, there are days where I absolutely dread it. But while I am in it, even when it’s hard I love it. This free time you’ve devoted to working on yourself? You should at least be doing something you love. So take a new class. Show up to a new group run. Sign up for a new challenge. And during a time where so many of us are trying something new, remember to have patience and give yourself — and others — grace.
In that spirit, if you’re thinking of diving into something new this month here are some options on my radar.
Rather workout solo and marinate alone in your sweaty mess? Lululemon’s All-Access Mirror Challenge gives participants free access to the app and its workouts (typically only offered via membership to those who purchase the brand’s workout device The Mirror). From now through January 17, sign up for their bingo-esque challenge and get 14 days of access to the app and its 10,000 classes that can be completed at home.
Explore more and sign up here: shop.lululemon.com/story/mirror-home-gym.
Love cycling class and ready to dive back into group workouts? CycleBar NoMa not only offers first rides free, but is also offering free unlimited classes through January 16. For anyone who misses Flywheel, Cyclebar offers a variety of classes that combine strength, endurance, hills and challenges. (For those short on time, there’s an Xpress 30 minute option).
Sign up here: cyclebar.com/location/washington-noma.
Have you been thinking of joining a running group? DC Run Crew starts back up on January 24 and meets at 7 p.m. every Monday. The meets combine body strength-based workouts and track work. Beginners need not be intimidated: The crew is one of the most beginner-friendliest running groups in the area. And with amazing pacers and crew leaders with some serious running credentials, there’s tons of options for intermediate and advanced runners looking to improve their performance.
Visit dcruncrew.com to learn more or sign up for a membership which grants you access to special perks and member exclusive events.
Speaking of new challenges in the new year, this column is exactly that for me. I’ve always loved writing and motivating others to pursue the joy of a life in motion while embracing my inherent love of being active. But save a few musings and stories here or there, I’ve never had a formal column that merges the three. I’m excited to shed light on exciting fitness related events around the District, to turn a spotlight on the literal movers and shakers of the DMV fitness world, and to provide helpful tips to harness that active joy and keep it close. See you out there.