Where Membership Means: Finding My Ironman/woman

Matt_Jenny_bannerCompleting a triathlon is a big accomplishment.  Not everyone has that on their resume or even on their bucket list for that matter, but it may not be as impossible as you think.  Read on to find out how FFC members Matt & Jenny got started and what they have accomplished since. You may just find yourself inspired, and we have the perfect opportunity – the 15th Annual Fitness Formula Clubs Indoor Triathlon Series!

Matt: My FFC story started after I moved to Chicago in 2006. One of my friends told me he had just run a half marathon, and while I admired his accomplishment, I didn’t understand how anyone could run 13.1 miles. I had never run further than four or five.  So I started running more regularly, gradually going a little farther each time. I enjoyed the physical challenge that running offered and the feeling of accomplishment I got with each limit I surpassed.  Then, a co-worker asked if I wanted to run the Chicago Marathon with her.  I said I wasn’t interested, again thinking I wouldn’t be able to run that far.  A few weeks later, I changed my mind and signed up. In order to accomplish what seemed impossible, I needed to find a way to push my limits and get stronger, so I joined FFC.

Going to the gym became a part of my training regimen. Not only did strength training make my runs better, but I started to feel more confident in my everyday life. My membership helped me to define the character that I needed in order to complete the marathon, an accomplishment I didn’t think I was capable of before joining FFC. I finished six more marathons in the next few years.  With each race, I improved my time and set a new personal best.

My membership at FFC gave me the opportunity to find fun ways to explore and expand my fitness. I took cardio kickboxing and core strengthening classes. I tried yoga for the first time and even became a regular in the back row of the hip hop dance class. Being a member at FFC inspired me to make healthier decisions in other aspects of my life. Regular exercise helped me feel more confident, which helped me find ways to make improvements in my personal and professional life.

In 2011, I was introduced to a sweet, athletic blonde.  A mutual friend thought we would have a lot in common, given our similar interests in endurance sports and exercise.  She was training for an Ironman Wisconsin, which impressed and inspired me. I had never done a triathlon, but had seen the Ironman World Championships on television and was completely in awe. Running a marathon was hard enough, but having to do it after swimming 2.4 miles and cycling 112? I didn’t understand how that was possible…until I watched her cross the finish line. The next day, I waited in line and signed up for the race the following year.

I had switched my gym membership from FFC to a more budget-friendly beefcake factory.  After signing up for the Ironman, I canceled it and re-joined FFC.  More than ever before, it was important that my gym be conveniently located, open early in the morning, have the amenities and equipment that I needed, and not be so loud and crowded that I had a hard time focusing on my workouts efficiently. Many strength workouts, yoga classes, and countless laps in the pool later, I crossed the finish line at Ironman Wisconsin in 2012, an accomplishment that was impossible prior to rejoining FFC. One year later, I completed another 140.6 mile journey in Louisville, improving my time and setting my personal best.

Since I first joined FFC in 2006, then again in 2011, being a member at FFC has helped me cross the finish line in races and accomplish goals that I didn’t think were possible. In the process, I’ve become healthier and have built the strength and endurance to pursue greater achievements.  My membership at FFC gives me the confidence to continuously improve, and explore what is possible in an effort to achieve my personal best.

Jenny:  When I was a little kid, I was the girl out playing sports with the boys.  I LOVED being active.  I started playing competitive tennis at the age of 8. When I went to college, I didn’t want to play tennis anymore. I stayed active and took my eating habits OVERBOARD. I literally starved myself for 2 years and weighed a solid 88 pounds for most of those 2 years. Scary. After I realized what I was doing to myself, I went the complete opposite way and gained 60 pounds and graduated 2 years later at 155 pounds. It was so unhealthy.

After graduating from college, I knew I had to do something about my eating habits. Starving. Binging. It was bad. It took me a few years, but after getting active at my local gym, I started to level off with my weight. There was something still missing, though. I overheard a woman twice my age talking about doing a triathlon. Bingo! My competitive nature made me jump. I had no clue how to swim and had a crappy old mountain bike, but did my first triathlon about 7 years ago. I thought I was going to die, but finished and was hooked immediately.

Since then, triathlons have changed my life. The time I train is quality time with myself, which makes me a better person to my family, friends, and co-workers. It has taught me how to view food as fuel. Not eating enough kills my performance, eating too much does the same. I eat more now than I ever have, but I’m in the best shape of my life. Learning how to eat meals, not be afraid of food, and listening to my body has made all the difference.

Since starting triathlons several years ago, I’ve had the opportunity to do some really cool races. I’ve recently qualified to represent Team USA next year at the Duathlon World Championship in Pontevedra, Spain.  Racing at a higher level year over year gives me confidence, and FFC allows me a space to train in order to achieve those goals. This is something I’m so passionate about, and I hope that by sharing my story, I can help others going through the same things I had.