If you’ve followed my journey for a while you would have noticed that fitness has become an even greater part of my life. I find being active helps my pain levels after suffering from a car accident about 7 years ago. Since that accident my body has not worked quite the same. My neck will often go out to a point that I cannot turn my head, my ribs pop out of place pretty regularly and my lower back acts up. But, if you’ve also noticed anything about me, it’s that I’m a fighter and I don’t give up.
Just over a year ago I took the plunge and tried out Hourglass Workout located downtown Toronto (where this shoot obviously took place). I was a little nervous for a couple reasons. First, I was nervous because my body has limitations because of my injuries and second, going to a new gym as a plus size woman has not always been a pleasant experience. Sure, I’m confident and love my body but sometimes you get treated differently. Well, let’s just say that after my first class I decided to dive in. I signed up the next day for a 3 month membership and then I signed up and committed to a year. This has been my biggest fitness commitment in my life but the best one so far – it’s literally changed my life.
Classes are challenging, really challenging but the trainers are great and super encouraging and an hour flies right by. I always have questions, sometimes get frustrated but all the trainers have been so understanding, patient and helpful. Lyzabeth Lopez who is the creator of the gym has been phenomenal a well. She teaches a couple times a month and she’s always so encouraging and helpful, you can tell she loves what she does. I’ve so appreciated getting to ask her questions and get time with her. I’ve also watched a lot of her videos on her YouTube channel and how she got to where she is as a business woman just blows my mind and encourages me so much.
I have had to modify a lot of the movements over the last year and am often referred to as the queen of modifications but that’s ok, I’ve never been made to feel bad for it. So what have my modifications looks like – well it means doing box or wall push ups instead of doing them from my toes, doing lighter weights than most of the girls, no weights for overhead movements, no jumping like when doing jump squats, doing my burpees on a box rather than going all the way to the ground and the list goes on. I have pushed through and my strength has improved quite significantly.
So this blog post and the shoot ultimately is a celebration of how far I have come. Attending Hourglass has also made me realize how much of a passion I have for fitness and as a result I am in the midst of working on certifying as a personal trainer. Why? Well I know what it’s like as a woman, a plus size woman trying a new fitness regimen and it can be challenging – physically and emotionally and I want to work with women to get stronger and live their best lives. Just like my journey so far, I often will take on something new with the intention of going one direction and things grow, change, develop but I end up landing right where I’m supposed to. So I do have some ideas of what I’ll do with this and what this will all look like, but we’ll see how it all works out but I’m so stoked!
When it comes to fitness I always love dressing well but it’s often hard as a plus size woman (and a tall plus size woman) to find fitness gear that is fashionable, durable and comfortable to workout in but I have found a new fav brand – Grrrl.
Now this brand as I’m learning is more than just about great fitness fashion – it’s a community of women that support one another and essentially, they are working at building a united army of women. And some of their proceeds go to a charity that supports women affected by domestic violence. They are all about empowering other women and helping women live their best lives and the best part is they carry straight and plus sizes and highlight women with a variety of shapes, sizes and fitness levels. Also, their sizing is super unique. Instead of small, medium, etc their sizes all have names and go on your measurements – kinda cool if you ask me. Quality is top notch and you would think the prices would be too but prices are superrrrrr reasonable for fitness gear! I’ve been so impressed with everything I’ve tried so far and I’ve ordered more because I’m just in love. You know what’s amazing too – I’ve arranged for my followers to get extra $$$ off their order by using coupon code Sarah during check out!
So in the essence of celebrating how far I’ve come I decided to shoot some of the things I could not do and have had to work my way up with modifications. Here’s the first one for you… These are dead lifts. When I first started I would do 25 lbs…this right here is my regular weight and is 115 lbs. Ummmmm talk about an accomplishment. I still have to be very careful with my back though. Even still it does bug me and it has been quite a bit the last couple of weeks so when it does I take it down a bit and then build it back up tot his weight. My personal in the last month dead lifting was 135 lbs.
Next up is Kettle Bell Squats. When I started these I would do 20 lbs, well this bad boy is 100 lbs!!! My fav version of the squat is doing shark pit squats or plie squats. Squats have always been my favourite exercise and it’s been fun to try so many different varieties.
Next up we have sled pushes – these have been soooooo hard – I started with no weight, just the sled which is about 70 lbs and I could never use the lower side of the sled, I had to go higher because it was just too hard on my back. Well, now I’m up quite a bit of weight ( think this is stacked to 190 including the sled weight) and I’ve been able to utilize both sides of the sled.
And this is probably my biggest accomplishment because this type of moment impacts a lot of different exercises. I have never in my life been able to do planks, mountain climbers or similar activities from my toes and I just have been able to start doing that in the last 2 weeks and also have now been able to use the TRX like this – this was huge! The first time I tried the TRX about 6 months ago my back like seized right away and I got off so I was super nervous trying again a couple weeks ago. I set out to do 2 reps of knee tucks and I did 10 and in a workout last week I did 3 reps of 10!!!! This is massive for me. My neck still does bother me and my core still needs strengthening but it just goes to show that when we try and push ourselves and work on getting stronger we can accomplish more than we think!
Today I celebrate how far I’ve come. I still have a long way to go in terms of strengthening my back, neck and core but look what’s happened in a year. I will keep pushing, fighting, growing and getting stronger. And my hope is that this encourages you too as well. For me being active is more than just for fun – its pain management, keeps my head clear, I sleep better and I’m way more productive! Thank you to the team at Hourglass for all you to and for helping me thus far.
Now, if you’re looking to get your hands on some of the gear in this shoot here are all the links and don’t forget that you can save money by using the coupon code Sarah.
In terms of sizing – I typically wear an XL in fitness gear (I’m a size 16) and in all the pieces except the camo tights I was wearing the Amenah size – the camo tights are in Heidi. I took my measurements to pick my size form their sizing chart and everything fit great. Also, I liked that the tops were a little longer and the tights were high waisted. Click HERE for sizing charts.
Special thanks to Hourglass for allowing me to shoot in the gym and a huge thank you to my amazing photographer who did this on such short notice and always blows my mind. Oh and ya – she did my hair and makeup too. Katie, you never cease to amaze me! Thank you!
Hair, Makeup and Photography by Katiuska Idrovo Photography