My BAREfit adventure started about a year ago. A friend of mine asked if I wanted to try out a really cool gym. I was more than hesitant. I thought, "I don't need a gym". I was working out 4-6 times a week to my DVD programs. It also didn't help that I never liked "conventional gyms". I found them intimidating and boring. The prospect of running on a treadmill, having "leg days", using those weird machines to isolate this muscle or that muscle was just beyond unappealing. I was also against any type of "CrossFit stuff" - I never liked the brute force character of CrossFit workouts, which can easily lead to injury and burnout. So, armed with my opinions and very low expectations, I went to my first BAREfit class. It was a whim day workout on a hot and muggy Friday evening. There was no traditional gym equipment, no polished and carefully cleaned treadmills, static weight-lifting machines, or boards with words like 'AMRAP' and 'WOD'. I saw a friendly group of people, who I could identify with. I was greeted warmly by a cool dude with a man-bun, who looked like a human-person, who also led in an encouraging and fun way with a 'can do' attitude. He demonstrated all the workouts and their modifications in an easy to understand and funny way. I remember doing each exercise in the circuit and saying (or almost screaming) "this is so much fun!!!”. The workouts were new, dynamic and exciting! They were challenging, never boring, or high impact. And did I say fun!? All my expectations of what BAREfit could be, were shattered in a good way, and I was hooked from day 1… And it only got better. Since the beginning I have regularly attended pack workouts 3-4 times a week. I really appreciate the push-pull-whim day format. Even though you kind of have an idea of what the workout will be like, Curtis, Susie and Anthony always come up with a new exercise, or a different spin on something familiar. There are always modifications, which makes BAREfit so good for everyone. No matter if you are just starting out, or are advanced, workouts will be adjusted to meet your level, to challenge you and help you progress.
And speaking of progress… BAREfit has truly changed me and let me grow on more than just a physical level. I have gained strength, stamina, agility and endurance. I can move, flex, lift awkward objects, climb and balance well. I had so many "I can do this???" or "This is me?" moments. I overcame many fears and anxieties that have been pestering me for years - especially traversing the log/net while hanging 5-8 feet above the ground made me face my huge fear of heights. Plus jumping, vaulting, climbing on top of tires that are higher than me… Those things were out of the question a year ago, and now I can do all of them.
But wait - there's more. BAREfit is not just a gym. I have to mention it every time I describe it to someone who doesn't know about BAREfit.
First of all, everything that BAREfit promotes - opting outside, making the world your playground and living the adventure are not just empty slogans. They really practice what they preach here.
After joining BAREfit I found out that activities outside the gym were encouraged. Doing stuff outside and outbound challenges were simply part of the BAREfit routine. I thought, ‘Why not?’ and quickly incorporated these in my schedule. It is pretty much a habit now for me to have an "outbound day". I go on a hike, go climbing, swimming or just simply walk around the park (recently, I started looking for trees to climb on, logs to lift and branches to hang on and traverse). I also love our monthly Earn Your Beer challenges and other adventure group outings (the adventure day at the Jefferson Memorial Forest was the best darn thing that happened to me in years). This is where you get to hang out with cool people and really make the world your playground (one can argue that it is a workout, but it feels like too much fun to really call it that). For the adventure part, we actually get to do a workout specifically designed to prep us for a particular activity (paddling, climbing, and biking to name a few). Yet again, these are not just some motions that we go through. During one of the outdoor challenges I got to do paddle boarding for the first time. And guess what? I got to use every single skill that I specifically trained for in the 8-week program. Seriously! You won't get that anywhere else.
When talking about BAREfit, I have to mention our community. This also appealed to me from day 1. We know each other here. We work out together, we build friendships, people talk, laugh, interact. Our members and trainers are courteous, helpful, and friendly, and most of all no one will ever judge you. Quite the contrary - members praise other members for their accomplishments and progress. There's plenty of encouragement and true respect.
The BAREfit concept wouldn't happen without Captain Curtis. I truly admire how much work and thought Curtis puts into creating our workouts. He doesn't just come up with a set of exercises. He does a lot of research to enhance the program and constantly improve, and incorporate new elements. A good example was the set of workouts he developed for 8 weeks of adventure-ready/paddle-boarding. As I mentioned before, these were specifically targeted to improve essential paddle-boarding skills. For this very purpose he also built (!!) workout equipment (he repurposed some old, random junk, which was pretty bad-ass!!!) and even loaned rowing machines from another gym just to make things happen. Curtis puts a lot of work into planning all of the Earn Your Beer challenges and other outside events, and it truly makes for a unique experience (way beyond a simple workout).
All coaches at BAREfit are fantastic. I have worked out with Susie, Anthony and Nils (no longer living in Louisville) and each one of them has a different style of coaching. While the core of each pack-workout stays the same, the coaches make some modifications to specific movements, or change out particular exercises. That actually adds variety and I have noticed that it has helped me progress further.
Overall, BAREfit has truly transformed me. I found a place that feels like a playground, rather than a gym. I will keep coming with the same energy and curiosity to find out what new adventures and challenges are awaiting.