Just starting at AFS: What I Wish I Knew

Sawyer Paull-BairdSawyer Paull-Baird Administrator, Moderator, Practitioner, AFS Staff admin
edited March 2020 in AFS Family Corner

Try putting yourself back in the shoes of your previous self, just starting off at AFS. What are 1-3 things you wish you knew about AFS, fitness, exercise, nutrition, or even yourself, that you know now?

Fire away in the comments below. Maybe your reflections will help another as they get started on their fitness journey with us. 🙂

Sawyer Paull-Baird BS CSCS ACSM-EP PN-Lvl1
Agent of Change / Fitness Innovation & Education Coordinator


  • Beth ManoogianBeth Manoogian Member Rank ✭7✭
    edited March 2020

    I was already exercising regularly when I joined AFS, but of course weight loss is mostly about diet, and I was struggling with this big time because my job is very time-intensive and sometimes I wouldn't get home until late and certainly wouldn't feel like cooking at 8pm.

    So, I started prepping all my meals for the week in advance, on the weekends. It has allowed me to portion out my food in advance and to always have something healthy and ready to eat when I get home from work. I focus on lean protein and vegetables and minimize the processed carbs. I credit the majority of my weight loss to this single lifestyle modification. To answer the question, I wish I knew how much easier it is to just make everything at once and that I didn't have to make something healthy every night (plus who has time for all those dishes every night)!!

    Also, listen to your body. While the trainers at AFS are super motivating and want to push you to do your best, if there's a day where you aren't 100%, or have a pre-existing injury that you know certain exercises will exacerbate, that doesn't mean you HAVE to do it. AFS is great about providing modifications to those who need them, just speak up if that's you!

    And if @Kemper Sosa comes at you with an excited look on his face at 6am, it might be because that means you're about to do 105# barbell 1-leg RDLs so buck up and get ready or run far, far away!

  • Peter SchultzPeter Schultz Member Rank ✭5✭
    1. Your fitness journey is a marathon, not a sprint. Everybody wants to see results fast, but that's just not how it works. Real change happens over a period of time.
    2. Similarly, it's an investment. If you're serious about investing in your health, the amount of time and money you put into it starts to become a bit easier to handle. There's a big difference between "spending money on a gym membership" and "investing in living a better, healthier life."
    3. Make sure you have the right footwear for whatever exercise you're doing. No matter how much you love your favorite pair of running shoes, they probably aren't built for the kind of movements you'll be doing in, say, a FS class. Your ankles will thank you.
  • Tricia NaultTricia Nault Member, AFS Staff Rank ✭7✭

    @Peter Schultz Totally agree with #1 and #2!!

    The other advice I have is to get involved! Take an active role in your journey to being healthy. In the beginning I used to just come and do my workout and go home. Or I didn't correspond with my trainer on a regular basis.

    But it is only when I started to talk to others in class, (or commiserate with others!) did I start to feel like I belonged. Also, keeping in regular touch with my trainer and doing the homework he gave me. Trying new classes like yoga or pilates or the special seminars opens your mind. And helping with the blanket fund raiser gives you a real sense of community. Also, get active on the forum! You find many people with the same interests or struggles that you have and it is so helpful to know you're not alone.

  • Stephanie CarrollStephanie Carroll Member Rank ✭5✭

    I also was working out prior to joining AFS, so I thought I knew it all. Since joining AFS, I have come to appreciate the staff and trainers and really understand what being healthy means to me.

    1. It's okay to rest. I used to train three hours a day/five days a week. No one ever told me that resting is vital to the journey.
    2. Just do what you can do. People would ask me what I do when I work out. I'd tell them, and they'd say, well I can't do that. Comparing is definitely one of the worst things people can do for themselves. The only person someone needs to worry about is themselves. I love that AFS has people of all ages and abilities.
    3. Have fun! Get to know people at AFS and then you'll look forward to showing up. Try something new! Try yoga or strength training.

    AFS will change the way you view fitness. Take advantage of the many resources that AFS offers-enjoy the journey.

  • Nicole PorterNicole Porter Member Rank ✭6✭
    edited March 2020

    Less of what I wished I knew and more of just general advice.

    1. When practitioners offer form correction, listen. They know what they're saying, and you'll have more effective and safer workout;
    2. If you're serious about weight loss, you have to commit to honest food logging;
    3. Don't stagnate. If you're not being challenged, ask a practitioner to "make it harder" - they have great suggestions. Also, don't be afraid of trying GRSt or FSx.
  • Heidi MorrisHeidi Morris Member Rank ✭7✭

    I never thought AFS would change my life and my fitness and health perspective, but it has!

    My advice-

    Don’t compare what you can do to what others can. It’s not a competition. Enjoy seeing your own improvements.

    Don’t just judge your progress by the scale. How you feel matters more than anything!

    Be friendly! You will probably enjoy working out more if you get to know people, but you can also encourage them and make their experience better too!

  • Andrea SpanglerAndrea Spangler Member Rank ✭5✭

    My general advice:

    Being healthy is a journey.  It is not a switch that is flipped and changes overnight or happens immediately.  Having patience and a plan is key:  we all (or at least I) wanted weight loss to happen over night...but it doesn't and it really takes some preparation on my part to be successful.  The weeks I feel really good about my health, I have prepped and planned on the weekend for grocery shopping, meals and even my workout schedule!

    My relationship with my fitness practitioner is a key component for me too; I rely heavily on her expertise around workouts and nutrition.  She helps hold me accountable for the choices I make.  It is also important to feel comfortable and share/communicate what is working and as well as challenges you are experiencing so they can help you navigate.

    For me finding my workout BFF was life changing (we met at AFS and are now great friends outside of the gym as well).  We coordinate schedules and give  each other the extra "push" that motivation we sometimes need to get there!  Plus working out is so much more fun with friends!

    I am still not where I want to be....but am healthier than I was 2 years ago and have to remind myself that this is a journey...there will be setbacks (kind of in that rut right now) but my AFS family is there to support, encourage and guide me!

  • Lauren Baker (RH)Lauren Baker (RH) Member, Inward Journey Meditation Group Member Rank ✭6✭

    I have thought really long and really hard about this, and I agree with the comments above. In all honesty, the only thing I wish I knew (and had done) when I started at AFS was to be more open to the JOURNEY.

    Be prepared to change your approach, your thought processes, your relationship with your body and most importantly, your relationship with your mind. AFS is NOT JUST a gym. It is a community. It is proof there are good people in the world - good people with some of the biggest, most caring hearts you'll ever come across. It is about making memories, it is about pushing yourself in ways you didn't think you could and when you think you just can't anymore, it is a hand up or an encouraging word that reminds you how amazing and strong you are.

    Two years in and I'm still on the journey, still learning and growing every class. And I'm grateful for the community of AFS for being right there with me, every step (or squat, or lift, or press, or pull, or push...) of the way :).

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