Why I Alchemy: Chris Sliwinski

by: Chris Sliwinski

When I was ten years old I was diagnosed with scoliosis of the spine. I have a 42.9-degree curve on the top of my spine and a 37.9-degree curve on the bottom of my spine. I sometimes joke that I am just a little bit crooked. Did I have back surgery? Nope. Did I wear a brace as a kid? Nope. Do I have back issues? Yup. Do I let this slow me down? Nope. However, I have often played it safe…maybe a little too safe…maybe it’s time for something more…

Earlier this year, I moved to the North Loop and shortly after that, I turned 48. I told myself it was time to up my game. After a decade of practicing yoga and still wobbling around in a figure four pose, I decided I needed more. More cardio. More strength training. More high intensity work outs. I am not getting any younger you know. I began researching gyms within walking distance of my new home and kept coming back to this place called Alchemy – reading about the coaches, the blogs, the community. I was intrigued by the mix of yoga, strength, and intense conditioning. Plus, with a free week to try it out, what did I have to lose? They promised I could “walk in antsy, walk out feeling more alive.”

I walked into Alchemy on a snowy February morning and inquired about classes. Admittedly a little antsy. Two days later I bundled up and trudged through the snow to my first A10 class. The next day I took an A20. The day after that I took another A20. Then I tried an AFlow. Guess who found herself feeling more alive?

One of the coolest things about Alchemy is that the coaches help with what we CAN do. We often tell ourselves “I can’t do that.”  For someone who says “I can’t do a box jump,” the coach will say “you CAN do a box step up.” For someone who says “I can’t do toes to bar,” the coach will say “you CAN do knees to elbows.” For someone who says “I can’t do a pull up,” the coach says “you CAN do a ring row. Let me show you…” The coaches are highly trained professionals who ensure safety along with scaling modifications for all levels of fitness. And they also happen to be some of the most personable, welcoming, funny, down to earth and all around awesome humans on the planet. What I’m trying to say here, in the words of one phenomenal Alchemy coach… “YES YOU CAN!” (By the way, the coach I am referring to here is Alex. If you have taken her classes, you know she often yells “YES YOU CAN! YES YOU CAN!” Those three words always get me to push a little bit harder.)

Why do I Alchemy? Because the community of athletes has welcomed me with gusto. Because I feel physically stronger every day. Because I feel the “good kind of sore,” especially after a burpee day. Because the calluses on my hands are like trophies. Because I walked into my first AStrong a couple days ago, antsy as the day is long. Barbells are intimidating when one has never been under one! And this lady with the curvy spine walked out feeling a little more alive.

I Alchemy because I CAN. And you can too!

Chris is an Alchemy NOLO Member and an avid dog lover. She recently moved from Madison, WI to the North Loop to be near family – family and friends (and dogs) are her everything. Seriously, if she sees you on the street with your dog, she will recognize your dog first. Her all time favorite snack: vanilla OREO thins…yes, they are vegan!

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