by: Cara Gulbronson
I am podcast listener, Netflix watcher, brewery frequenter, non-profit worker, adventure seeker and member of Alchemy. I was a dual sport athlete my whole life and decided what’s one more so I joined the lacrosse team my freshman year of high school. I then played four years of college lacrosse, two years at Colorado State University and two years at the University of Minnesota (go Gophers), and loved every minute of it. I also loved having a coach to tell me what to do, push me to my limits and encourage me through a work out, practice or a game.
After graduation, life grabs a hold of you and doesn’t let go. Things like working out and food prep go out the window when you have work that never ends with long hours – not just your 9-5 stuff – and overall just less time for yourself. I fell into a cycle of being exhausted from work, heading to a fast food drive thru and ordering something, or was often traveling for work where those were my only options. The very little spare time I had was spent playing catch up on errands, cleaning and other “adult” things. Working out was at the bottom of the to-do list as other items were a priority. Exercising would not even make the list most days.
This cycle was daily and nothing could motivate me to break it. I hit a low point I had not felt before. One lacking motivation, confidence and not recognizing who I was in the mirror physically, mentally and emotionally. I knew I needed to make a change. I tried the gym in my apartment building where walking on the treadmill and a couple sit-ups and push-ups was as far as I would get. Going for walks after work and other gym memberships left me feeling uninspired and with a lack of direction. I would dread doing any of these workouts and was struggling to find an exercise routine that I actually looked forward to or really enjoyed.
I had been living next door to Alchemy North Loop for a year but never stepped foot inside until I moved all of six blocks away. I finally stepped foot inside after much convincing by two friends from college. Needless to say, I was in the worst shape of my life, had hit some lowest lows in 2017 and lost any motivation to move my body. I was terrified and had absolutely zero confidence to complete the workout, but I was in it for the brunch after and spending time with my friends.
My friends reassured me that there are modifications, different boxes, weights and bands to help me with the workout. There would also be a coach to direct me through the movements and tweak my form as needed. They also told me I had to raise my hand when asked the famous question at the beginning of class, “is this anyone’s first time to Alchemy?” My hand went up slowly and hesitantly but was welcomed with a round of applause.
Needless to say, I not only survived my first A20 but I was hooked. I had started my free week that day and went four more times during that free week. I needed two full days to recover from the soreness, that good kind of soreness from my first class, but then I was back at it and haven’t looked back since. I have been a member since September of 2017 and this was the change I needed to break the cycle I had fallen into. I finally found a workout I love, look forward to and truly enjoy. In January of 2018, I took it one step further and joined the Alchemy 365 Challenge that kick started a lifestyle change and how I viewed food. I learned what my body needs as fuel and what my body does and does not process well. I learned recipes and habits from this challenge that I still incorporate and use today.
I have to take a moment to mention this incredible community. The coaches and athletes make you feel welcomed. Not only welcomed, but also genuinely cared about; what you do, who you are and not just how your day was but how life is going. I am grateful for this community and to be surrounded by kick ass people. Why I Alchemy, you ask? I Alchemy for AlcheME. This is 30, 40 or 50 minutes dedicated to me, myself and I to let everything, stress, work, anxiety and more, go and leave feeling strong AF. I walk out of Alchemy with a clear mind feeling sweaty (I mean sweaty), inspired, accomplished and feeling alive.
Cara is a grant and development project manager with the United Healthcare Children’s Foundation where she awards medical grants to kids for their medical expenses. You can catch her in the afternoons at Alchemy North Loop, on her rollerblades, trying a new restaurant or at a brewery playing games with friends.