Les Mills GRIT: My 2nd Change to Become an Athlete

In January 2015, I did something I swore I would never do:

I took my first step towards becoming a certified Les Mills GRIT™ coach and attended a 2-day certification training held in Arlington, Virginia.


The Les Mills GRIT™ Series is three 30-minute High-Intensity Interval Training workouts: GRIT Strength, GRIT Plyo, and GRIT Cardio.

I SWORE I wouldn't do GRIT. This program came on to the fitness industry scene just as I was becoming a Les Mills BODYPUMP® trainer back in 2012.

At the end of day one of a BODYPUMP training in Philly, I got a sneak peek of a GRIT workout when my fellow trainer Meg said, "Come on.  Let's do GRIT."

We set up benches and heavy barbells, but I spent most of the workout standing with my hands on my hips in utter disbelief.

"Do a box jump, jump off the bench into a burpee with a pushup?! Are you insane?!  No, I'm not doing that.  I can't do that."

I was certain I would miss the bench and break my face, and it scared me a little. Okay, it scared me a lot.

"Why would ANYONE put themselves through something like this?" I wondered.

I made up my mind right then and there: I disliked GRIT - intensely - and it was over a year before I tried another GRIT workout.

Here's a little secret about me: I don't like failing.  At anything. I don't like not being able to nail something perfectly on the first try. Never mind that that's absurd and practically impossible - to do something you've never done before perfectly, on the first try.

If there's even a slight chance I will fail, mess up, or be perceived as weak or inept, my natural first response is, "No, I'm not doing that."


Change Your Mind, Change Your Life

Reading "The Four Agreements" by Don Miguel Ruiz was a pivotal event for me that fundamentally changed how I think. In the book, Ruiz outlines four rules or "agreements" in life that are essential steps on the path to personal freedom.

The first agreement:

Be impeccable with your word.

At first I thought this meant, "Do what you say you're going to do. Keep your word."

While that IS a lovely sentiment, it isn't at all what this agreement is about. Impeccable means spotless, flawless, without fault.eing impeccable with your word means realizing that words, thoughts, and feelings have the power to create and shape our reality.

Every time we judge, label, insult, or blame ourselves or others, we are planting seeds that will take root and grow like weeds.  Weeds that choke us and trap us.

I was trapped by words and labels.

As a little girl, I flunked out of gymnastics in less than a week.

The teacher told my mom, "She's has no upper body strength.  Keep her in ballet."

I'm not strong enough.

When a high school summer soccer league coach told me, "You need to move faster out there. You've got no hustle." I took that in and it became part of me, too.

I'm slow.

I was the last girl around the track during physical fitness tests in P.E. class and did not excel at sports of any kind. I took it all as a very clear sign:

 I just wasn't cut out to be an athlete.

Since I believed I wasn't strong, fast, or athletic, I spent years cultivating other interests: public speaking, writing, acting, performing.  I grew more and more interested in politics, public policy and current events, and spent my free time watching cable news, reading the news, and shoring up my "smart girl" creds.

When I did exercise, it was purely for aesthetic goals.  To stay a certain dress size.  To look a certain way. I never exercised because I loved it or wanted to get stronger.  I stuck with boring workouts that I knew I could finish, like 30 soul-killing minutes on the elliptical trainer.

Thoughts Become Reality

As we go through life, we're constantly forming ideas about ourselves based on what other people say we are, what other people say we're good at and should pursue. Whether these words are true or not makes no difference. They color and shape our reality regardless of their truth.

When you spend your whole life believing you're {insert judgement here}, you limit your possibilities in life in a profound way.

When I started surrounding myself with people who believed in me, it changed everything. This avowed non-athlete discovered Les Mills group fitness classes at Gold's Gym and eventually made it through Les Mills BODYPUMP® instructor training. I started teaching classes at Gold's Gym, which paved the way for a complete life and career overhaul.

The confidence I gained from trying new things in the gym gave me the power to make bigger changes outside the gym: in relationships, in my career, and perhaps the biggest change of all - the way I saw myself.

Old Habits Die Hard

The "I can't, I won't" still creeps in, as recently as GRIT training when faced with plyometric pushups. (Plyo means JUMP...can you imagine a jumping pushup?)

My trainer Joe got down beside me and said, "Just try it.  You can do it."

I flat out said, "I can't."

Then a fellow BODYCOMBAT® instructor came up to me and said, "If I can do plyo pushups, so can you. Just try it."

Again I said, "I can't."

Old habits and beliefs die hard, and sometimes you have to learn a lesson over and over and over again.

In The GRIT Zone

During the final presentation of GRIT Plyo at the end of day 2, a very strange feeling kicked in. A knot in my back that had been dogging me all weekend was finally gone. I'd just spent the whole day getting to know the guys and girls on my team and we felt like a team. I had no more excuses left. I was so amped up!

When presentation time came, I had my mind made up! Those stupid plyo pushups were NOT getting the better of me and I was not leaving the weekend with "I can't" hanging around my neck.

"3, 2, 1...." said the GRIT countdown lady...

And it wasn't pretty, but I did one.  And then I did 4 more and got up and kept going.

The team finished the last workout of the weekend together and I will never forget how it felt!  It's the reason we were all smiling like this:

Maybe you weren't an athlete in school.  Maybe you've never been on a team or been part of something bigger than yourself. So what. Take a chance and do it now. Despite what you've been told, it's not too late.

Amazing things happen when you have a team of supportive people around you and a coach, all pushing you to do and be more. I challenge you:

Become the {ULTIMATE} version of you.  You have the power and the potential inside you to change anything you want: your body, your life, your career, the world. 

The only limits are the ones you create for yourself - and if you built them, you sure as hell can break them, too.