Jesse’s Journey with Allegro Coaching

By Jesse Stokes, Allegro Member

Growing up I was never athletic, not even close.  I did no sports and I agonized over gym class.  I was the nerd with the nose in the books, president of the drama club and a proud jazz choir member.  This never really changed much for me through my teenage and college years.  Then, one day in my early twenties I was going through my first big breakup. During the course of this relationship I had gained about 25 pounds from eating poorly.  It was my first time living on my own and I was buying cheap food because I was poor!  I went to my Mom for some advice.  At that time she was training for the River Bank run, she said she would be glad to talk to me but I had to do it in the gym while she was running.  So, I met her there after work.  She asked me if I wanted to try the treadmill.  Uh, no. I didn’t want to.  I was in work clothes, I was tired, and I didn’t run.  I had a bunch of excuses. She told me to just try it.  So I walked and talked while she ran.  At the end of her run, I got off the treadmill and was shocked to see all the DATA there.  How far I had walked, how many calories I had burned, etc.  I hadn’t ever really been on a treadmill before so I had no idea this existed,  I was hooked.  I started meeting my mom at the gym after work.  I just walked, I walked and walked. I started reading about what to eat to be healthy.  I lost those 25 pounds and I started to run.  I did a few 5k’s with my Mom and was feeling great.

A few years later I lost my Mom to breast cancer.  It was horrible.  But, she had encouraged and inspired me so much (she took a break from her chemo to run the Chicago Marathon!!!), I knew I had to keep moving.  I trained to run a half marathon.  Endless nights spent on the treadmill and lots of nights doing Jillian Michaels dvd’s.  I really was in the best shape of my life and  felt good about it.  As I increased my mileage I started to feel some pain in my hips, running got harder and harder as my hips started to hurt more and more, and finally I just kind of gave up.  Then another relationship breakup, a move, and processing grief –  sticking to those healthy habits I had learned was becoming harder.  I tried to keep moving, walking on my lunch breaks, dusting off those dvd’s from time to time, but my heart wasn’t in it.

A few years passed that included marriage and a baby.  While I lost most of the baby weight, those last 5 lbs stuck around.  I never really worried about it because I had always felt pretty comfortable in my own skin.  Then life got hard, and I started living in crisis mode.  My father passed away suddenly, my brother was struggling with addiction issues, I got downsized from my job of 15 years and fitness was the last thing on my mind. I gained 20 pounds and didn’t like way I felt in my skin anymore.

And now we get to 2019 – The year I turn/ed 40.  When 2019 started I had decided that I was going to put some real effort into losing these 20 lbs that had crept up on me over the last 5 years.  My birthday was in May, and I knew it was going to be sort of impossible to achieve my goal, but I wanted something to strive for.  January started great, with all that New Year’s resolution energy burning.  Then February came and my house was filled with chocolate – how did that happen?  It couldn’t go to waste!  Then a week of snow days filled with activities like baking – anything to keep my daughter busy – but that did not include eating well or moving more.  My lofty goal to lose 20 pounds by May was getting farther and farther away. In April I received an email from Coach Leah. She had been sending me email invitations to several of her challenges and it never seemed like the right time or the right challenge for me, but I asked her to keep sending them because someday I would say yes.  The April email came and as I skimmed the email I saw that the “Shake the Bank” challenge ended on my 40th birthday.  The exact day!  I took it as a sign, as the push I needed, and said “YES”!  But, I really had no idea what I was getting into.  I hadn’t really read the details, I just signed up!  As I started to learn about the challenge – I need to order special powder to drink a shake everyday – I need to do a 3d body scan –  I have to go to 7am workouts on Sundays?  My mind raced to come up with an excuse to back out.

The first day I walked into Allegro to talk to Leah about the challenge and do my 3dscan I was so anxious.  What was this place?  Where were the treadmills?  Wait a minute, is this GROUP FITNESS?  Oh my goodness, talk about not doing my homework.  What had I gotten myself into?  Then, the scan.  If there is ever a more motivating factor than seeing your body in a 3d scan like that, I don’t know what it is!  After seeing that, I knew that I was going to have to do some work to change that image. I heard my Mom saying “just try it.”  Just try it. I told myself, ALL I could do was TRY.  If I failed, I failed, but I needed to try.

I am the type of girl who is good at following instructions, so armed with the Shake the Bank meal plan and a resolve to see a different body on my next 3dscan (in 30 days).  I jumped in.  I signed up for my first class.  Circuits.  Oh my gosh, I have never been so nervous or so intimidated.  All the equipment for this one class?  All these people who already know what is going on? Was I going to die, puke, pass out? All three??  As all the stations were explained, I kept getting more and more anxious.  I didn’t know these moves, I didn’t know what to do.  Oh man.  I kept telling myself, just try.  So I did. I tried, and it was hard, and I had to modify moves, and take breaks and rest.  But, I. Did. IT.  I made it through my first class, I didn’t die! 🙂  I promptly signed up for another class. And then another class.  After a week – 3 or 4 workouts – I had this feeling.  A memory.  A flashback to that time in my basement doing all those Jillian Michaels  dvds –  a flashback to being strong.  Seriously, after a week, I was hooked. I had forgotten this feeling, this feeling of how much my body LIKED exercise.  After two weeks I could SEE the difference.  I was starting to get stronger, were those muscles under there?!

At the end of the 30 day challenge I went into my second 3d scan knowing I had changed, but not sure how much.  I was shocked to see that I had lost 12 pounds!!  I won the challenge and promptly put my winnings back into another month at Allegro.  When the challenge started, I had no intention of staying at Allegro but at the end of the 30 days, I couldn’t imagine NOT being there!  The support of the people in my challenge group was amazing, truly. I have a new group of friends who get it, they are there for the good days – “I did ALL THE BURPEES” – and there for the bad days – “Oh my Gosh, my knees hurt so bad!”  Not to mention the support and inspiration from the instructors at Allegro. They are awesome, you really do get to walk in there at ANY level and walk out with a good workout.  They meet you where you are, there isn’t judgement, only support.  All the times I thought I would be embarrassed (I’m looking at you giant wall of mirrors), I realized, no one was looking at me, they were all too busy focusing on their workout to judge me and my abilities. The fact that I could walk into a place where I felt so out of place, and now feel at home is so empowering.

July is my 3rd month at Allegro.  I am currently 2 pounds away from my pre-pregnancy weight (!!) and 5  pounds away from my January goal for my 40th birthday.  I’ve lost 15 pounds, and at least 6 inches off my waist (probably more, but that was my scan result in May).  Hitting that goal weight will feel amazing, because I know I will get there. I have an awesome team behind me, helping me, encouraging me, pushing me. But, even better than that is the progress I have made in just a few months.  When I started I was doing every modified move to make it easier.  These days, I’m at least trying the advanced move, some days I don’t make it and some days I nail a set of Spiderman Push ups!!!  (Best day ever – I mean, right after the birth of my daughter and my wedding day, of course).  As I walked into the studio yesterday morning, I couldn’t even remember what class I was doing, just that this is what I do in the mornings, I go to Allegro and workout. I doesn’t matter what class. I’ve developed the habit, but I’ve also committed to it. And it all started with that email when I said yes, and decided I would just try!