‘How did I get myself into this?’ Was the thought that crossed my mind the first day I entered District 13 Gym to take part in their transformation programme. The terror and dread that enveloped me was unlike anything I’ve ever felt before.
So how DID I get myself into this, you ask? I first found out about District 13 when I attended a Women’s Health Fitness Squad CrossFit event to take pictures of the class. After seeing firsthand the torture the ladies went through, I wondered why anyone would want to sign up for this. Surely there must be other ways to stay fit that don’t involve feeling like death?
It was at the event when I met Coach Aidi Amin who saw that I wasn’t taking part in the class and asked if I wanted to come back and give it a try. As much as my body said, “No, Amylia, you’ll regret it”, in my mind existed a desire to prove a point to myself that I could do it. So I said to coach Aidi – ‘Sign me up!’
Mind you, I’ve never been very active and the only daily exercise I do is walking from the train station to work which I used to think was enough physical exertion for one day. It was going to be interesting…
November 2016 – The Journey Begins
My first class was all about learning the basics. In the beginning it was difficult for me to set a true fitness goal. I didn’t feel like I was out of shape, but I did feel my fitness levels could have been better. I was always sluggish and most days I lacked energy to carry on past 10pm. Also, thanks to those long hours sitting at a desk, my posture wasn’t great. My goal then was just to get generally fitter.
Aidi taught me the importance of getting into correct form when doing the basics such as squats, planks, and lunges to avoid injury. Basically, you need to feel a tight pull on your core when you do these moves. Getting into position wasn’t the tough part, but maintaining that position was initially excruciating.
I could definitely feel the tightness in the muscles in my thighs, (again, thanks to long hours sitting at my desk) and Aidi suggested I do some stretches to loosen those muscles.
After the first class was over my body ached for the rest of the week. I would have had kicked myself for signing up if I wasn’t in so much pain in the first place.
December 2016 - January 2017 – New Year, New Me...Sort Of
The agreement in the beginning was for me to attend only one personal training class a week which is actually not bad, but due to the gym being in Petaling Jaya and my working in the city centre, getting there was a fuss and there were times when I had to skip classes due to work (and, I’ll admit, sheer laziness).
This delayed my progress, but in January I started to attend more frequently, even waking up early on Saturdays to make up for a missed class earlier in the week. It was around this time that Aidi said he could see a shift in mentality, which is part of what he expected from me on this programme. I got a gold star for my efforts (though I would’ve preferred KFC as a reward, tbh).
The classes now involved a bit more advanced exercises including working out using weights. One of the exercises involved forcefully slamming a 5kg dead ball into the floor as hard as I could, working my core. Aidi advised that a good way to de-stress during this workout was to imagine my ex boyfriend’s face on the floor—little did he know I was imagining it was his face as my target. (Just kidding, Aidi!)
My eating habits also slightly changed as I found myself eating more after a workout. I never stopped myself from indulging, and I’ve always tried to eat balanced meals but I’ve never had the ability to eat very much. But since starting the programme, I noticed that my appetite had increased and that I craved foods high in protein. There are even days when I crave a nice, crisp salad (who is this new person?!).
January - February 2017 – Firing Up My Motivation
I was lagging behind in attending classes in the past few weeks and I think the main demotivating factor for me was that I had no way of measuring my progress in a tangible way. This was when I thought it might be fun to bring a friend along to work out with me, so I can at least have someone there to compare my progress with.
I brought my friend Grace to my next session, and found that Aidi had already prepared a three-round crossfit circuit for us which consisted of kettlebell swings, burpees, battle ropes and plank walks. Grace conked out in the second round and I was surprised that I could still keep going.
That was my crossfit eureka moment- I needed a workout buddy to compete with in order to push myself. Achievement unlocked!
March- April 2017 – Tag Teaming
After finding out my motivation booster, I asked my colleague Zoe to be my fitness buddy for the remaining classes. Having a friend there made me feel more at ease with the surroundings and it definitely fired up my competitive nature.
By this time, I could progress to weight training and learned the basics of form when it came to deadlifts. Apparently, I managed to do it right at my first attempt.
And boy did it feel good.
May 2017 – Taking The Gym Home
I only started to feel a major difference seven months in. On days that I couldn’t attend classes, I’d do squats and planks in my bedroom. It’s easier now that I know the right moves so I can work out on my own without having to go to the gym.
It was also around this time when I realised my energy levels had increased dramatically. I went on a solo trip overseas and found I could manage my 20kg of luggage much easier than before. I’d also noticed some tone in my biceps and that I’d gained a bit of muscle-weight.
June 2017 – Final Thoughts
My transformation programme comes to an end this month and I definitely feel a better version of myself. My energy levels are higher, I exercise, and take part in more fitness events when I used to avoid them as much as I could get away with.
I feel more confident in my workout form and my posture has improved. Whenever I feel like I’m slumping at my desk, something in my head tells me to adjust myself and sit upright. I think having that awareness in me is what convinces me that I have definitely transformed into someone more concerned about my own wellbeing, and I think that’s a major improvement.
Aidi suggested that now I can list down my priorities, set the right personal goals and break these down into more achievable steps. That’s why I’ve decided to sign up with group classes at the gym so I can carry on improving my fitness levels.
And that is one sentence I never imagined I would ever say.
Coach Aidi says:
“At first I only expected Amylia to have a change in mindset and be clear in her fitness goals. She has shown commitment and great understanding about herself by bringing Zoe as a workout partner in our sessions. The most noticeable improvement is Amylia’s attitude and ability to perform the workouts confidently. She has also put on some good weight. I presume it’s from an increase of appetite balanced by a good diet. Just remember that fitness is a never ending journey. It’s a cliché, but it’s true.”