By Lucy Witchell
“Standing at attention pose, feet to touch, eyes blinked closed. For the next 50 minutes forget about everything outside these 4 walls — this time is for you.” A variation of these words are spoken at the top of each Alchemy 365 class, and honestly this mindset instilled on a daily basis nicely sums up why Alchemy is my second home.
For those who don’t know me, I’m Lucy and I’ve been a member for almost 3 years , though just calling myself a member doesn’t quite begin to cover it. If you go to Northeast you’ve likely seen me (or heard me due to my endearingly loud voice), as I spend the majority of my free time at the studio. Outside of Alchemy, I am a 4th year medical student at the University of Minnesota, and currently in the process of applying for residency. “Free time” is difficult to come by, so taking care of my well-being requires active effort.
I learned this the hard way at the end of my first semester back in December 2018, as I watched my self-care priorities go down the toilet while drowning myself in the sad, sad depths of anatomy and biochemistry. Determined to fall back into some sort of fitness routine, I turned to the internet and eventually stumbled upon a Groupon for a discounted month at Alchemy 365. I intended to stay just for that month so I could remind myself what exercise felt like, but as I’m laughing to myself writing this blog almost 3 years later, it’s safe to say that initial plan didn’t quite pan out. I went from working out 6 times that whole semester to 6 days a week, and my academics actually improved. I learned to appreciate myself and my body for my strengths, and to accept the balancing act of knowing when to push myself and knowing when to rest. Alchemy has become a necessity for taking care of myself, and truly the best tool in my tool belt when it comes to taking care of my mental health.
Though the workouts alone help my anxiety substantially, the part of Alchemy that really keeps me coming back is the community. From students to parents, young professionals to well established ones, lifetime athletes to people who have never done a traditional workout in their life– Alchemy welcomes everyone, and for 50 minutes gives this group of very different people a common goal, with everyone literally (and loudly) cheering each other on along the way. Beyond that, coaches truly make an effort to understand who you are, and they will go to every length to make sure you feel comfortable. You get excited to come back to see familiar faces, and over time these familiar faces inevitably turn into friends, and for me at least, many of these friends have turned into family. Being part of this community has helped remind me I am more than just a medical student, and even on days where I feel like absolute garbage, I get to take a break from the outside world and remember what it feels like just to be human.
Maybe you’re thinking Alchemy 365 is just another gym that offers group fitness classes in a trendy looking studio, but I’m here to tell you it’s not. Sure it’s great to be proud of yourself when you lift a heavier weight, perfect a challenging yoga pose, or get your first pull-up, but there is something so special about doing those things with a community full of people enthusiastically cheering you on while you do it. It’s what motivates me to pack a bag of workout clothes when I leave the house at 6am so I am ready to go for a 5:30pm workout when my day is finally done. It helps me push past my exhaustion because even if I don’t do “well,” I have an army of people meeting me where I’m at and cheering me on anyway.
There is honestly no place I feel safer or more supported than I do in this community, and for that I am eternally grateful. If you’re reading this I encourage you to come exactly as you are and just give it a try — I promise when I meet you I’ll be cheering for you.
Lucy is a 4th Year Medical Student at the University of Minnesota, member at Alchemy 365 Northeast, and overall badass. Want to join her in class? Your first workout is free.