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My 12 Week Transformation

My name is Kathleen, and I am doing the Tucson Transformation Gym 12 Week Challenge. Here's my story!

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Week 1


Monday, September 10th, 2018

I've never been a huge exerciser. I love yoga, both for its strengthening benefits and amazing sense of relaxation. But I've never gotten into any other exercise, really.

But lately, it's been catching up with me. I noticed some weight gain, and I knew that I wasn't taking care of my body as well as I should. My boyfriend goes to Transformation Gym, and because he's supportive of all my goals, he suggested that I try the Boot Camp class.

Frankly, I was intimidated. "Boot Camp? Seriously?" I questioned him. He assured me that it's not full of hard-core instructors, screaming at the class and making them cry. He promised me that the trainers welcomed everyone, no matter their fitness level, and I just had to show up and actually do it. Taking him at his word, I did just that.

I laced up my shoes, took a swig of water, and tightened my ponytail. Taking a deep breath, I opened the door to the gym. High-energy music pulsed throughout the room, and as I took a look around, I realized that everyone looked...normal. Sure, there were plenty of people who could probably bench press me. But plenty of others just looked like normal people. Like me. I felt better already.

I met the owner, Ron, right away. His warm smile and friendly greeting put me at ease, and he gave me a quick tour of the building. Then he asked how I'd rate my fitness level (not great) and what I wanted to accomplish (get stronger and healthier). "Ok!" He said with a smile.

Next I met Johnny, the instructor for my very first Boot Camp class. Ron let Johnny know that I was brand new, and Johnny assured me that he'd keep an eye on me. That made me feel good - I knew I'd need an explanation of all the exercises, and probably correction of my form as I tried them. I definitely didn't want to get injured, so I felt good knowing that Johnny would help.

Before I knew it, class was starting. Gulp. But actually, it was great! Johnny started by reviewing the day's workout with the class. It was written on a board propped against a wall, so we could take a look at anytime to know what was coming next (or feel proud of how much we'd already done!). He demonstrated all the exercises, and pointed out some common errors in form so we'd keep that in mind. And then we were off!

And wow, it was hard. I mean, I knew I wasn't too in shape, but this class confirmed that beyond a doubt. I could tell that I was definitely the least fit of anyone there, but I actually didn't mind. I had gone in feeling that I just needed to take the first step, and by the time class ended, I was feeling proud of myself. Tired, sweaty, but proud.

As I walked back to my car, my legs were already feeling both stiff and wobbly. Sounds a little odd, but I promise, it's possible. I'd considered coming back for another Boot Camp class on Wednesday, and decided to play that by ear, depending on how I felt.

The next day was PAINFUL. Standing up hurt. Sitting down hurt. Moving at all hurt. I take the stairs at work, and I promise you, walking up two flights of stairs took about three times longer than normal. The following day, Wednesday, was the same. Did I go to Boot Camp again that day? Ha - nope! Since I couldn't yet walk normally, I figured my body needed some more recovery time. Amazingly, I was starting to feel better on Thursday, and by Friday, I felt just about normal! Time for another class.

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Friday, September 14th, 2018

Time for my second class. And this one was Code Red, which would be a step up from Boot Camp. Just like before my first class on Monday, I was a little nervous. I'd never done high-intensity interval training, and I was feeling a little intimidated despite my positive experience earlier in the week.

But I knew that I needed to get over it and get on with it. So in I went.

Ron teaches Code Red, and he welcomed me with a big smile. Just like Johnny had done on Monday, Ron went over the exercises with the class, demonstrated each one with some explanation of proper form, and then we got started. We did several rounds of exercises, trying to complete as many reps as possible in 1 minute, then switching to the next exercise.

I found that I really liked that approach. Mentally, I felt like I was succeeding if I was able to keep the exercise going for the full minute, rather than feeling like I wasn't completing the "right" number of reps like everyone else. Of course, I know that I'm just getting started and I need to time to get stronger and I'll get there. But in the meantime, I like feeling like I'm getting something done.

We used core boards - my first time using one! I've always had pretty good balance, so even though I'm not very strong and I definitely need to work on my endurance, I enjoyed the balancing challenge. Even though it came with weights and squats!

True to his word, Ron kept us moving (quickly) throughout the whole class. I was absolutely exhausted at the end, but still felt great. Sounds weird, but it's true. I don't know if it's because of all the adrenaline and exercise endorphins, or just the sense of satisfaction that I'd come back and worked out again, but I felt really, really good.

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Week 2


Tuesday, September 18th, 2018

I'd intended to work out on Monday and Wednesday this week, but ended up with another commitment on Monday night. I was a little worried about how long it had been - three full rest days. Would I have lost all my (admittedly small) gains? Was I going to hurt like crazy all over again the next day? Well, there was only one way to find out.

So I hit Boot Camp again. Johnny's workout today included jack knives, kettle bells, rowing machines, running outside around the parking lot, carrying weights above the head for a certain distance, burpees, and wall sits. Now that I'm looking at that list, I'm feeling pretty good about myself! I did all of that!

Ok, to be perfectly honest, I couldn't finish all the reps in the time allotted, except the jack knives. I did finish those and I felt pretty darn good about that! But just like before, Johnny explained and demonstrated all the exercises, provided modifications for those who needed it (that's me), and kept a close eye on everything throughout.

I don't think I've ever worked out like that in my life. I'm pushing myself with every workout, feeling tired, sweaty, but also accomplished. I'm liking this transformation thing.

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Wednesday, September 19th, 2018

Today was another good Boot Camp. I'd been wondering about the wisdom of working out two days in a row since I'm still a newbie, but it was actually ok. I was a little sore after yesterday's workout, but wasn't feeling too bad today so I showed up and did my best today.

I'm really enjoying the fact that every single workout is different. Different exercises, different combinations, different weights, etc. There's a lot to learn, but there's also a lot of support from the trainers, and it's definitely not boring. Even though I tried to exercise regularly on my own before starting at Transformation, I knew that I didn't have the creativity to change things up constantly, and I also didn't push myself nearly as hard as I'm being pushed now. It's a nice kind of pushing, don't get me wrong. More like accountability and support, which is exactly what I needed. I'm just scratching the surface and it's kind of exciting, knowing that I'm already making a little progress, and that there's so much more to do.

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Week 3


Tuesday, September 25th, 2018

I've got an ambitious goal this week - three workouts instead of two. I have no idea how that's going to go, but I'm going to give it my best shot. Ramping up, pushing myself, trying to get stronger.

Today's workout had three different rounds, each with three exercises. We picked a round to start with, repeated each exercise as many times as possible for 1 minute before moving to the next exercise in that round for 1 minute, etc. Each round required three rotations of the three exercises, then on to round two, then round three. Once all three rounds were done, we ended with a finisher. Here's what we did:

Round 1: Assault bike, jumping pull ups, SDHP (Sumo Deadlift High Pull)
Round 2: Battle ropes, Russian swings with the kettle bells, jumping squats
Round 3: Wall sit, sled push OR a tire flip, shuffle sprints

Today was kinda fun! I found that I enjoyed jumping pull ups (even though I had to stop to catch my breath), managed to get the kettle bell from from shins to my chin for SDHP (yeah, needed to stop during that one, too), and also enjoyed sending ripples down the ropes as fast as I could. I also learned that the ropes are harder than they look, and wore me out faster than I expected. All good to know, all gives me LOTS of room for improvement.

And that finisher? 100 sit-ups. And I did. Every. Single. One. It took me awhile, and I had to pause for breath. But I kept getting back to it and I finished! I was super proud of that. It was a good workout today.

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Wednesday, September 26th, 2018

My second workout in two days. Here goes nothing.

Today gave us two 14 minute AMRAPs (as many rounds/reps as possible). The first included V-ups, a 100-meter farmer's carry, a 1-minute plank, a 200-meter run, and Russian twists. As if that wasn't enough, the second one included ring rows, a 1-minute incline run, push ups, and jump rope.

Fun fact: I can't remember the last time I jumped rope. It's probably been about 20 years, at least. Turns out I'm out of practice!

This whole workout really pushed me, in a good way. It was a lot of new exercises, lots of intensity, and the added challenge of trying to get to keep the movement going for the full amount of time, or getting the full number of reps. It was not easy, not one little bit. But I'm still loving the variety, and I know it's the best thing for me and my goal of becoming stronger and healthier.

The finisher was two rounds of a band walk (put a resistance band around your legs, either above or below the knees, and then do a sideways crab-style walk. Feel the burn!), and single leg DB (dumbbell) deadlifts. The band walk was oddly fun, despite the challenge. Maybe just because we all looked silly! And the deadlifts were a chance to (finally) catch my breath a little, which was nice.

Interesting side benefit of all this exercise: I've become less interested in dessert. I have a sweet tooth for sure, and firmly believe that there's no bad time for ice cream, and you can't possibly have too much chocolate. But since starting this workout, I'm finding that I crave it less. I'm not sure if it's a coincidence or not, but it's a good thing for sure!

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Friday, September 28th, 2018

Time for my second Code Red class, once again led by Ron. We enjoyed/suffered through four rounds of five exercises, repeated until we got through it all: 3-minute treadmill run at a 4% incline, alternating deadlifts, swings, up downs (using one foot at a time and a core board, run onto the board and back off until Ron told us to drop and do a certain number of push-ups, which changed each time), and a catch squat press, performed on the core board for extra fun! The finisher was holding a plank position with hands on the core board, with all the unbalanced goodness to make it exciting!

True to his promise of high-intensity interval training, Ron kept us moving constantly, and moving fast. But even though he definitely notices when you're giving yourself a breather (maybe that's just me!), he's still really encouraging to get you to get back in there. I knew he had my best interests at heart, and that helped. Only marginally at times, but still a good thing!

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Week 4


Monday, October 1st, 2018

Something about week 4 feels like a milestone. I think I've dropped a few pounds, so that's exciting. I haven't noticed any change in how my clothes fit yet, but I'm snacking less, still eating less dessert, and overall feeling pretty good. I've never had trouble sleeping, but I definitely sleep very soundly after workouts. All great stuff.

Today brought us three rounds of exercises, each with two exercises, to be repeated three times before moving to the next round.

Round 1: 300 meter run, 25 goblet squats
Round 2: 30 barbell push presses, 50 bar hops (literally, just jump over the bar from side to side - a lateral move that wore me out faster than I expected)
Round 3: 30 V-ups, 1-minute plank
Finisher: 20 hip thrusts, 20 bent rows with a dumbbell (bend from the hips, using one arm at a time to pull the weight up by bending the elbow)

I hadn't done anything with barbells yet, so that was a fun challenge. I had to switch to a lighter one and that definitely made it easier (of course!) to complete more reps and ensure better form. I'm going to be feeling it in my arms tomorrow for sure.

I'm still loving the variety that each workout brings. None of them have been remotely the same, and it's great not to have to think about it. I just show up, follow the workout on the board, and that's it! No creativity needed when I'm already tired after a long day. It's perfect, and just what I needed.

I'm planning to do three workouts this week, too. Last week showed me that I could do it, so I want to make it as regular thing as much as possible.

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Wednesday, October 3rd, 2018

Today was fun! We had five different rounds, each with two different exercises, to be repeated as many times as possible within three minutes. Then on to the next round, and so on. We rested for one minute between each round (thankfully), and at the end of the five rounds, repeated the whole thing.

I felt really good today, and I'm not exactly sure why. Maybe because each round went by really quickly, since it was only three minutes. Or...maybe I'm getting stronger? I still had to stop and catch my breath pretty often, but I felt like my breaks were a little shorter than they were even a couple of weeks ago. So that feels like progress, which is exciting.

It was also a great mix of exercises. We did American lifts with kettle bells, push ups, mountain climbers, V-ups, leg lifts, hollow rocks, bicycle crunches, lunges, and so on. Lots of variety, and the rapid switches meant that it went by really quickly.

I've also noticed that everyone at the gym is really friendly and welcoming - not just the trainers, although they definitely are. A woman introduced herself to me tonight - just asked my name and how long I'd been coming here, and then told me her story. We agreed that we love the positivity that's part of the atmosphere here, and how everyone just does what they can do and it doesn't matter how fit you are. She's been coming for years! I love that. At pretty much every workout, someone is introducing themself to me, offering a fist bump or a "nice job", and it just makes me feel really good. It doesn't matter at all that I'm slow and not very strong yet - because all that matters is that I'm showing up and doing my best.

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Thursday, October 4th, 2018

I did it - three workouts this week! Today was another good mix of exercises. We started with a plate hold (25 lbs suggested for women, I could barely do 15 lbs!) for 40 seconds, the 12 barbell deadlifts (another new one for me). We repeated those five times, then followed up that up with a 1600 meter row or run. I chose rowing and was really proud of myself that I did the whole thing! I had to pause a couple of times for breath, but I got back to it and got it done. Yay!

We finished with three rounds of one-minute wall sits and 40 kick-backs with resistance bands, 20 on each leg.

It doesn't sound intimidating. And taken individually, none of it was. But boy, my face was dripping with sweat. Like, actual drops of sweat rolling down my face onto the floor or bench. I guess I'm working hard, and I feel kind of awesome about it. Looking forward to what next week brings!

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Week 5


Monday, October 8th, 2018

Today was challenging - two rounds of AMRAPs, each with three exercises:

Round 1: Double kettle bell squats, kettle bell push-ups (balance hands on top of kettle bells on the floor, then push-ups as usual), 200meter row
Round 2: Wall balls, medicine ball lunges, 200-meter run

The exercises in each round were completed as many times as possible in 16 minutes. Then three minutes of rest, and on to round 2. The fun (?) part was that each time, we added reps to the first two exercises. We started with 10 reps of squats and push-ups, then 20 the next time, then 30. I assume that some people went beyond that, but I definitely didn't. I'm not fast enough yet! But it was a darn good workout, that's for sure.

And there's always a finisher. Today's was 100 crunches, and I'm proud to say that I did every single one of them. Whew. I'm guessing that my abs will be a little sore tomorrow, but that's ok. It means that I worked hard and that I'm getting better! Nothing wrong with that!

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Wednesday, October 10th, 2018

Here's the funny thing. Every day's workout is different (love that!). And I like some exercises better than others - naturally. And because I'm kind of excited about this whole "I'm a person who works out" thing, I've told a bunch of people about it. I happened to have a water cooler conversation with one of my co-workers today, who asked how it was all going. "Great!" I said enthusiastically. "Done any burpees lately?" he asked. "Huh. Actually, no. They haven't been in the workouts for awhile." Grinning, he said "Today, I predict 100 squats and 25 burpees!" Gee, thanks.

And lo and behold, burpees were part of today's workout. I blame my co-worker!

Two 12-minute rounds today, each round consisting of three 1-minute exercises repeated four times. Then a few minutes of rest, then onto the second round.

Round 1: Ring row, burpees, plank
Round 2: Assault bike, wall sits, box jump/step ups

So round 1 focused more on arms, and round 2 focused more on legs, in general. By the end, all of me was just plain tired, but in a really good way. The finisher involved kettle bells - squats, naturally. I'm already feeling it in my legs. I don't think I'm going to be crazy sore or anything tomorrow, but it's nice to feel that I've really worked my muscles. Progress!

Also, Ron suggested that I do the 3-D body scan, which I find fascinating. It does just what the name suggests - takes a complete scan of the body, and measures all kinds of things: weight, fat mass, lean mass, body fat percentage, basal metabolic rate, body shape ratio, waist circumference, waist-to-hip ratio and trunk to leg volume ratio. Plus, there was an avatar of me! It was weird, even without a clear face, I instantly recognized it as myself. And it was slightly horrifying, since it clearly showed that I need to do more work to get myself healthy. But that's what I'm working on!

Most of the above areas need work, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that I'm actually doing ok for fat mass versus lean mass. I'm almost at "ideal!" Yay! Most of these categories compare my measurements to others of my same gender and age, and the categories for most are "needs improvement" (yep, that's mostly me), "average" and "ideal". The fat mass and lean mass also add a "lean" category. Definitely not there yet, but that's ok.

I'm hoping to do another scan in a few months and compare my measurements. Hopefully I'll see some real improvements! Fingers crossed.

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