At the start of the year, I booked a big trip to Peru for my 2019 birthday celebration. The trip would include exotic food tasting in Lima, living like the locals on Lake Titicaca, nature walks in the Amazon jungle and trekking through the Andes on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. This would be the trip of a lifetime.
The only problem is that I was incredibly out of shape. To be honest, I have never considered myself an overly motivated gym-goer. Combined with the fact that I was recovering from an injury, I just kept postponing my workouts. Eventually, the time had caught up to me. It was too late to cancel my trip, but if I procrastinated any longer, my dream trip would turn into a nightmare. I learned about the River Valley Club (RVC) through word of mouth. Several friends and colleagues raved about it. I had to see what made this gym so special for myself.
During my welcome tour, I was initially impressed by the staff members warm welcomes and friendly smiles. I was also impressed by the RVC’s clean, spacious and state of the art facilities. They offer a fully loaded cardio and weightlifting floor. Even at peak times, there is no wait to use the equipment. There are lively group aerobics classes lead by certified fitness instructors. I truly believe that there is a class to suit every taste. During my time at the RVC, I have come to enjoy the high entertainment value classes like spinning, Body Combat, Barre and Zumba the most. The RVC also houses a few tennis courts, a climbing wall, an Olympic sized salt water pool, a CrossFit performance gym, a spa and much more.
So here I was in August, two months before my big trip, starting at fitness level zero. I shared my daunting fitness goals with Kate Rappaport, an RVC Fitness Consultant. I hoped to work with a personal trainer because I realized that I needed the expertise. Kate connected me with Alejandro Figueroa a.k.a Alex. Alex is a Certified Personal Trainer, fitness instructor, and triathlon coach with a ton of experience. He assured me that despite his accolades, he enjoys training people of all ability levels.
We started our journey with a baseline fitness assessment. After that, we worked together two to three times a week, every week before my trip. Lunge and Squat became my new first and middle names. It was hard work, but doable. Alex pushed me and kept me motivated. Had I not worked with him, I would not have been as consistent.
Finally, the time had come. I was in Peru, in the Sacred Valley, the night before my trek. Doubt set in. Could I do this? Had I done enough to prepare? There was only one way to find out. The next morning, I put on some music, strapped up my boots and hit the trail. For four days I hiked a total of 26 miles while carrying a day pack. On the second day, I hiked up Dead Woman’s Pass, which has a peak elevation of 13,828 ft. I was so proud. The experience was challenging and beautiful.
I am forever changed. Had it not been for Alex, I could not have accomplished my couch to Inca trail climb in two short months.
If this can be done in such a short time, I know that anything is possible. I am currently working with Alex to prepare for the Mount Everest base camp trek 2020. The icing on the cake is that, although I am still a work in progress, I have lost 10 pounds so far and I feel very strong. Thanks again to Alex and the River Valley Club.
Roshoyah Bernard, RVC member since 2019.
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