Hi! It’s me. Once again, I’ll start this post with the acknowledgement that I don’t take the time to write (type) on here anymore. Remember when I used to blog all the time? Well, sorry in advance if any of this beginning part doesn’t make sense. I’ll be real with you- because I always am – that it is currently 3:10 am on Friday morning. I’ve had a hard time sleeping, again. Honestly, this has been a more intense struggle for me over the past six weeks. I would love to get 7-8 hours of sleep every night, but this weird thing happens where I wake up in the middle of the night and I just start thinking, and then ya know.. I can’t go back to sleep for an hour, or sometimes two. So, this time I just decided to get out of bed and do something useful.
This morning, I have the opportunity to coach a couple of classes, and then help a personal training client, and then coach another class. I’ll get to workout with some people I love, and then I can honestly hopefully at some point come home and take a nap, so we are good! This whole sleep thing could be a post in itself, but I will spare you from that because what I want to talk about is way cooler.
A couple of days ago, my friend Kristy posted something on facebook and instagram that meant so much to me, and is a direct representation of how the gym can be about so much more than coming in, getting your workout in, and leaving with the hope of, “Ok! One step closer to looking and feeling my best.”
While we go to the gym to strive to look our best, feel our best, and reach all of those physical goals. I would challenge anyone to look beyond that, and acknowledge that the gym can be about something even far greater.
I wanted to share this story with all of you – not to bring glorification to me. In fact, I am the lucky one. When I read this story, I personally think of how the gym, and the people there, have been this for me as well, and for Daniel. We have our own stories. I read it and think that as a group of people, showing up to work towards a common goal, how we can impact each other. I read it and think that as gym owners/coaches (in this case, those who are leading group fitness classes) how *WE* get to be a part in facilitating a safe place where stories like this happen.
So, the purpose of sharing this story is to hopefully shed some light and be some encouragement that if you are reading this, and you are part of a gym community – you do have this impact on someone… or at least you have the opportunity to love and influence someone. And even more directly, if you are a coach, gym owner, etc. YOU get to facilitate an environment where others can come in and hopefully have their life impacted in this way.
But first…I’ll make this as short as I can, but no promises…
This family – the Tilley Fam, go way back with Daniel and me. I am going to try and get these facts straight, but in my 32 (I think) years of age, I forget some details every now and then, or get them mixed up. We met Jake and Kristy and Abby (now a strong, beautiful PRE TEEN) back in 2011. We had recently married and moved to Anderson, SC. Daniel started volunteering at the church we were going to in a really cool ministry called Spring Zone, where he got to watch/hang out with/teach kids who have special needs about God, while their parents were able to sit in the church service. I joined him a couple weeks later, and started hanging out with these kids too. The team leaders of the particular time/service we served at in the afternoon were Jake and Kristy Tilley. We loved them from the start! Jake was my age, and Kristy was Daniel’s age. Props to Jake for getting himself an older woman 🙂 They had a little girl named Abby, who couldn’t have been any older than two years old at the time. We formed a friendship with them. Later on, they hit a rough place in their marriage. I share that on here because they have been so open about it. I will never forget the day Kristy came to see me at work, sat on the couch in the lobby, and told me about how her and Jake were separating (and would soon later divorce). I was devastated for this family. And I couldn’t imagine being in the spot they were in and all of the hurt they were going through. Later, Kristy and Abby actually moved into the small neighborhood where Daniel and I lived. They lived on our street! However, looking back, I don’t think we took full advantage of that, and I didn’t take the time I could have to reach out to Kristy and be a better friend to her and Abby. Fast forward a little bit of time 🙂 …..I get a message from Kristy telling me that her and Jake have reconciled and they are trying to work things out (there is SO much to this story but it is almost time for me to brush my teeth and get ready to go to the gym so sorry I am cutting this short). I remember some days, I would go for a run, or take my dogs for a run, and I would happen to pass by Kristy’s house. I’d see Jake’s truck there, and be so PUMPED. ANYWAY, Kristy and Jake remarried, and just a short time later, they were given another child, Hannah. So, to me, Hannah is a miracle for that reason alone. We kept in touch with Kristy and Jake. I remember Kristy getting me in touch with one of her good friends, Katherine, who teaches at the school Kristy is a guidance counselor at. I got to come speak to their school one day, and that was cool. Sorry if I am not even talking in legit sentences right now. Haha. A short time after speaking to the elementary students Kristy works with, she reached out to me (June 2019) to be exact. She said her and Jake were wanting to start CrossFit, or at least some sort of personal training. I always try to meet these people at the gym, so they can see where they will be working out, and I can see their face when they see what they will be getting into 🙂 Kristy wanted to meet at Starbucks, which is cool. I like coffee. We met, and a short time after that, she said, “OK. Jake and I are IN! However, we are gong to do personal training with you because I will NOT be doing any CrossFit classes.” She mentioned that Jake was interested in CF classes though. When I train someone, I always give the option of jumping in class, because yes, PT is GREAT (it is the BEST option for some people) but I know how great group classes are for many reasons – (encouragement, love, and getting that push from others just to name a few).
Anyway, the Tilley’s started training with me twice a week, starting July 8th, 2019. One month later, they would learn that their two year old, Hannah, would be diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. I only knew about this because they told me they were coming to watch me and a few others compete at a local competition in Greenville. However, before they got there, I got sick and long story short, I had to leave and go home. Daniel and I were leaving to go to Jamaica the next day (HOLLA) and I wanted to make sure I was healthy enough to be able to go. The first day of our vacay, I texted Kristy to let her know I was so sorry I wasn’t there, and I told them what had happened. Well, that same day of the comp, they noticed some things were very off with Hannah. And within a couple of days, they were faced with a diagnosis they didn’t even see coming.
In the midst of a HORRIBLE circumstance, I watched my gym family love on this family they barely even knew. The Tilley’s weren’t even taking CF classes, but everyone knew them! I’ll never forget the nice words people said to them in passing – like “Hey Jake, you look like you are getting stronger!” Or “Hey Kristy – you are shrinking! I can tell that you are putting some hard work in!” Or “Hey! How is Hannah doing? What can I do to help?” That was really special to me.
A couple of months later, because of the encouragement from multiple people, the Tilley’s started taking actual CF classes at the gym. They even jumped in and did their first open. Jake was able to get pullups, and Kristy began to realize just how strong she really was. <—-and all of that is great and all.. but what is even cooler is the love and support they have received, and the families that have come alongside them and loved them.
One person in particular, an AU student, Haley (who is hella fit and a baller by the way) has been able to relate to them, as someone who has Type 1 Diabetes. She has been a strong role model for Hannah (and the Tilley fam) and has showed that you can still live an active, abundant life. In fact, Haley is one of the strongest girls in our gym, and an all around great athlete, for sure.
And something I don’t think they fully understand is the impact they have had on others in the gym. You never know who you may be inspiring.
Thank you for reading my jumbled up words. It doesn’t do this story justice, but it is ok I guess for now 4 am. Time for me to go eat meal number 1 of the day and go coach.
I hope this encourages you even half as much as it does me!
Ok, SOOOO I totally hope you can read that. I literally screen shot it from my mac book.In case you can’t, I quoted it here:
“One year ago today we stepped into Electric City Fitness Co and I can honestly say that our lives were changed. This has been one of the biggest years of growth for me as an individual. I’m not just talking about my strength gains but also my self confidence. Over a year ago, I started hitting up my friend Alison Stall with questions about CrossFit. She was always so kind (which is the norm if you know her ) and answered everything I asked. Finally, I was ready to jump in and make a big change. I had major weight to lose and I wanted to go extreme. Jake Tilley was on board from the beginning. My plan was NEVER to join the actual gym. I was content to just stay in private sessions with Alison. In fact, I was so intimidated and scared of the actual CrossFit gym that I met Alison at Starbucks to talk initially! I remember being in the back room and peeking into classes and then quickly darting my eyes away and thinking to myself, “I could never do that.” Alison helped me to build the confidence I needed to step into those classes in September and a week later, participate in the Open. She is the reason we joined the gym and she’s a big part of the reason that we are where we are today, physically and emotionally. About a month after we started at ECFC, our Hannah was hospitalized and diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. To say it sent us in a tailspin was an understatement. It was a diagnosis that my husband and I grieved because as parents you never want to hear that your child has a disease for which there is no cure. Alison checked in with us daily during the days and weeks that followed, even though she was on vacation initially. Knowing that she cared, and not just about our workouts, was just the beginning of something really special. During the months that followed, we kept going to the gym and it quickly became our haven for normalcy. I can remember thinking, “if I can just make it there today, things will be better” and they always were. Also, seeing that I could do hard things physically kept me going when the hard things weren’t physical, but emotional and even spiritual. Lots of battles in my head, heart, and spirit were fought while holding a barbell or doing burpees. We found so much support for our family at ECFC and they truly have walked with us every step of this journey. From offers to cut our grass to wearing blue on World Diabetes Day to meeting other friends with T1D at the gym to just listening to us, learning with us, and supporting us in our daily lives, this family has become a vital part of our family. The friendships we have formed over the past year are deep and mean the world to us. One year down and many many more to go. This place, these people are special and I am oh so very thankful that I didn’t let fear hold me back. Thank you, Jake, for pushing me to try something scary and for celebrating every little thing with me. I love being on this journey with you. Thank you, Alison, for never giving up on us and for always believing that we could. And for always noticing and complimenting the small stuff like braids, buns, and new workout clothes. Thank you Colin Leonard for dropping all the knowledge bombs, always leaving Colin selfies on my phone when I ask you to be the photographer, and helping us to grow sooo much more than I ever thought possible. I will get that pull-up soon!! Thank you ECFC (all of you because I would surely miss someone if I tried to name everyone ) for being the friends and family we didn’t know we were missing but that we have needed for so long and for loving us and our girls. Thank you for being a safe place but always challenging us to grow in strength (mind and body). Thank you for a phenomenal year. #strongertogether And I made it through the first year only purchasing two pairs of Nanos. “