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I could do it myself, I said. I'm smart; I could research the workouts, watch the youtubes, use the app on my phone or my watch or the workbook or the spreadsheet. And sure, I (technically) worked out. I went to the (big anonymous) gym, and did the things, and it was (mostly) fine. And, sure, every now and then I would push too hard or too fast and then have to take a few months out to fix my shoulder/quad/calf. And yeah, maybe it got a little stale. But I was (mostly) fine. And then life got crazy. After a year and some change without a gym, I started to not even be (mostly) fine. My hips hurt. My back hurt. I couldn't really walk long distances, much less run. So I decided to make the gift to myself of finding a place and a person and see what I could do when I really brought my whole self there.

At the evaluation, I told Shay I wanted to go into my fifties as strong as I possibly could be, to show my kids that body positivity doesn't have an age or a weight but a joy in what your body can do for you. And sexy-shoulders wouldn't hurt, either.

Shay listens, and she watches, and makes the plans for you, for where you're at, with an eye for where she knows you can go, and what needs to heal along the way. Most of the time, she knows what I'm capable of better than I do. And after four months with Shay (five months? six? I'm not really sure) I have made more progress than I did the entire time from 2017 to 2019. I'm lifting heavier, with better form, and more intention. I'm learning more supporting exercises, and more about my balance and my body and my posture. I'm improving in areas I hadn't known were holding me back and I'm sleeping better and standing taller (didn't know THAT was gonna happen) and walking smoother. All in a no-fuss, clean, bright, open, safe small-gym environment (usually just 4 of us at a time) where there's no gatekeeping, no mansplaining, no side eye, and no pretending to be something you're not.

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