Monday, October 19, 2009

Back In Madison

But time is short

And the road is long

In the blinking of an eye

Ah, that moment's gone

And when it's done

Win or lose

You always did your best

Cuz inside you knew...

(that) one shining moment you reached deep inside

One shining moment, you knew you were alive

David Barrett

As a fan of Maryland Terp football and the Washington Redskins, I have only one thing to say... thank heavens that college basketball got under way with midnight madness this past weekend. Only 150 days until March Madness and one shining moment.

I wanted to wrap up my most recent trip to the Ridge which I am now going to abbreviate as The Resort or BLR. Began in the 110's and ended with mornings in the 40's. Not a bad 7 week transition. It is not going to come as much of a surprise to anyone who reads this but give me the 110's any day. I like the warm, like sweating, and love being in shorts which is remarkable because I went a good 5-7 years without wearing them out of the house. Not that 40's in the morning and 70's in the afternoons was bad either. I did see some snow driving through the peaks of the Rockies.

Speaking of the Rockies,and this is not a picture of them, I found myself doing a very strange thing. Certainly something I had never done previously and never imagined silly thoughts like these would ever creep into my head. As I drove through the Rockies and stared out the window at these majestic mountains, do you know what entered my head? How would I attack these mountains, what looked like the most accessible path to the top, and Could I actually climb that sucker? Wow, what have I become?

Paige loves to stress how each of the hikes is a fitness hike. She's correct, but do not let her scare you into not bringing your camera. The sights are amazing and you will want to have a record of your time in this beautiful part of the world. The guides all have cameras to record your journey for the week ending dvd and they will listen to you when you ask them to stop for a moment.

This will be repetitive but it is so important. Do not be afraid to go on any of the hikes. If I can do this anyone can. There is enough guides to help you. You will never be holding others back!! It is part of the experience and part of pushing yourself. That's why everyone is there. You took the hardest step when you signed up. Don't baby yourself when you get there. I know, I did, and I used every excuse in my head to avoid doing these. Mostly because of the fear of the unknown, but don't let it hold you back, nothing you do at BLR will give you the sense of satisfaction that comes from standing on top of Camelback or climbing atop Piano Rock. That being said. Cathy and I are merely posing with the advanced hike sign. We all know our limitations :)

I want to talk a bit about the training staff. Some of you may be expecting a Bob and Jillian experience and I don't want you to be disappointed that the trainers at the Ridge don't feel the need to break you down, cuss at you, and make you cry. Will they push you? Of course they will make you work hard. They will make sure you show up to class. They will try to get you to do things you didn't know you could. They want you to succeed and they will give you the tools to do so. It is up to you however. I need to thank the trainers and all the fitness staff. It starts with the top of the fitness ladder at the Ridge and that is Paige. Congrats on winning the award from Spafinder, no doubt you earned it. This program is hers and she has made it so that it works for everyone willing to give it a go. Sharon is simply wonderful. I love her to death. She teaches, she consoles and she is there for you. She was there when I wanted to die a half mile into my first hike and she is there pushing me to increase my speed up the last 1/2 mile of the 4.5 stop sign hike now. I owe her an awful lot.

John and Micheline oversee the afternoon and morning portions of the workouts. They both are great at seeing that you adhere to why you are at the Ridge. Both have energy, both are in amazing shape, and both inspire me in their own ways. The instructors are also awesome Tiffany, with John and I in the picture, along with Robin, Shayla, and a now expanding group of others teach the way you would want to be taught. Tough, inspiring but with enough compassion that you do know they care. I want to bottle these people up and bring them home with me 'cause I struggle when they are not making me run faster on the treadmill, or catching 100's of medicine balls I throw to them doing sit-ups. I miss you guys already.

The "Campers" at the BLR. They come in every size, every fitness level, some are extremely self motivated, some need to be pushed extra hard, some used their life savings to book a week, some come for two months and don't bat an eye at what it costs. They come from every state in the Union, They come from the Far East, Africa, Europe, and a lot come from Canada. And every single one of them is at the Ridge for a reason that is right for them. No one is too skinny, although some may think they are :) None are too fat, or slow or old, or beat up. I have seen 100 lbs women throwing up from working hard. And I have seen 500lb men swimming laps around other campers. I have watched grandmothers run past 20 year olds heading up that mountain, and I have seen teenagers inspire their parents to work harder.

The campers will make you laugh and make you cry. You'll hear stories of their kids and their
families, and their pets. You will get to know these people. They will become your friends. You will struggle together, you will ache together, you will sweat together and each day you will look to see that they are back at it. When they are missing you will notice and be worried. When they are around they will inspire you and make you want to work harder for them. It is a community to like no other I have been a part of. It changes each week. The personality of the group is always different, but always good. It is the single most important aspect of your time there.

I just can not say enough about the love and friendships I see at the Resort. It's the unexpected bonus that you don't really know awaits you. You're part of a team, part of a group, and you're not sitting on your ass in front of a tv. You are living, and seeing new things and being a better person and right next to you is someone doing the exact same thing. Thank You to all of you. You continue to inspire me, make me proud, and help me understand my life. I miss you all.

Someone sent me a question about leaving campus for activities. Would I recommend it? Sure if you are there more than a week or two it is necessary for your sanity. Should you use it as a license to go crazy? That's up to you. But being at the Ridge is living in a cocoon and you will be expected to be a butterfly one day. Is there temptation out there? Of course, just like in real life. You don't have to run to Vegas. There are amazing hikes within a few hours. There is all sorts of local sports, amazing golf, and bike trails. Tuacahn is a beautiful theater with concerts and plays. There is shopping from cute and quaint to outlets within ten miles of the ridge. There are a handful of movie theaters as well. I think ten of us went to the movies together on this trip and it took all 18 of those other eyes staring at me to keep me from wandering into the popcorn line. But it worked.
I also want to thank the great people in the housekeeping department and the kitchen staff. Be prepared to tip these people when you leave, they earn it. I can't imagine how much sand the housekeepers vacuum up off my floor, or just how many towels the scoop and wash for me and everyday they smile and sing and say hello. The kitchen staff is wonderful. They prepare and serve wonderful healthy meals. If you have allergies or problems with certain foods they work with you. If you're not feeling well they will wrap up your food to go. And if you really can't stomach a particular meal let them know and they will find you an alternative. You will not go hungry if you eat the food they serve you, that I promise.

So we all know that Fitness Ridge has hopped into bed with The Biggest Loser. Will there be changes to the place? Of course, aesthetically the place is already changing with posters and new signs, and new t-shirts. Will the core of the program change. I do not think so. This program was built by the owners and they have too much invested to let the name of the place dictate the program. I think you will continue to find that camaraderie, that sense of purpose and caring that made the Ridge what it is today. It's a family and it feels like one when you are there. Was it a good decision to team up. Only time will tell. But I have an awful lot of faith in the management at the Ridge and I think they will continue to make it work for the campers.

So I am going to leave you with my favorite picture from this trip. A sweaty camper having just finished some sprint intervals getting a fist bump from a trainer. We're not always happy in the middle of those workouts but we always feel good at the end. And I need to again thank my main man at BLR at Fitness Ridge, my morning workout partner, my ear at the ridge, and my very good friend Eric Jackson. I feel like part of the family there and I have you to thank. Peace and Love, Jim


Jaime said...

AMEN!! You took the words from my mouth. BLR@FR was the best experience! I am a different person because of it. I miss it and everyone already.


p.s. The first photo...Is that Maryland Terps mascot a turtle?? AWESOME! :)

sabine said...

My friend Jim,
This was the most caring and inspiring blog yet. I am pretty much in tears.....You so manage to put into words what I think. I am just not good with words - while I love reading them....
What are you doing in June next year (can`t find the question mark on my new notebook)
Again enjoy your special weekend.