Mind Over Matter: Overcoming the Mental Roadblocks of Fitness

“I’ve been a dedicated but pretty casual jogger/runner since college. I ran for stress relief and fitness, and the chance to chat with friends during an hour out. I did the occasional 10K for fun, but I never really wanted to push myself for speed, since life was busy enough without that pressure.

I joined RVC as a birthday present to myself four years ago, when I turned 50. I enjoyed (and struggled in) some group classes, played some tennis too, but it was a surprise for me to realize that running hadn’t really made me very fit.

My daughters, Eliza (18) and Briland (16), and my son Will (15) started with CrossFit Teens at RVC with Anthony Vorachak five years ago. Through their interest in improving in high school sports, Eliza in soccer and ice hockey, and Briland in ice hockey and tennis, the girls moved on to personal training with Anthony.

It was really entertaining to hear their newfound CrossFit and gym jargon. They were clearly having fun, getting closer in their relationship, becoming stronger and more fit, and they were hooked! I was curious. Could I push myself in a similar way to what I was hearing and admired them doing? Could I get similar benefits, at my age? Could I have that “fun” too?

One day, about a year and a half ago, Briland couldn’t make a session with Anthony. I decided to take her training time and I’ve been going weekly ever since. I’m both amused and motivated by Anthony’s spirited endless mantras about mental toughness, most of which have parallel application in life outside the gym.

I can now speak (or in some cases at least understand) a new language in the gym, with my residents at work who go to CrossFit, and with my children: AMRAP, RFT, ring rows, box jumps, assault bike, sled runs down and back, plank, kettle bell swings, the daunting Murph.

There’s a sign on the SPC wall that I have grown to love, “integrity in the gym translates to integrity in life.” When I’m tired or busy, I push myself to fit in a trip to the gym. I’m inspired when I’m at the Club — by the positive personalities of the trainers and members of all ages that make the effort to get there, to work out, to push themselves.

Even if I’m not talking with the person next to me on the rower or on the pull up bar, there’s a spirit of community that is very affirming and motivating. I look forward to my personal training day.

I have to dig in hard to do what I’m asked, so many reps, more weight than I think I can handle, so many squats. I don’t get off easy. There’s often rousing back and forth chatter about mental toughness vs. physical abilities. “Be positive,” Anthony tells me, “It’s mostly mental, believe you can do it.”

I am grateful to RVC, the group fitness instructors, all the positive people there, and Anthony in particular. It has also been a lot of fun getting to know him; he has ridden the Prouty with Will and me (mainly way ahead with Will) for the past two years, and he can sometimes be found as a spectator in the stands at the kids’ athletic events.

As the summer winds to an end, my children continue to work out at with Anthony. Eliza leaves in the fall for Amherst College, where she will be a freshman and will play ice hockey. Briland is working towards a similar goal of playing ice hockey when she gets to college, and also is a tennis player. Will is playing on the JV soccer team at Hanover High, and also is an ice hockey player.

The commitment and effort in personal training and getting to the gym on a regular basis have brought me both physical and mental strength, and I have loved seeing the same remarkable growth in my children.”

Kathryn Zug

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