Success Story: Jody and Jesse Gavin, a family finding fitness, health and strength together!
Ten years ago Jesse and I were falling in love, enjoying the rush of getting to know each other and trying to figure out if this person was THE ONE. I had a list of things I hoped my husband would be. Thankfully, I had a flash of insight: we were young and unfinished. At 25 I was not everything I hoped to be in this life so I couldn’t expect the person I married to be complete either. What I wanted was someone with similar goals. If we wanted to grow in the same areas then we could do it together.
We both agreed that living a healthy life was important to us. But neither of us were naturally drawn to physical activity and the first years of our marriage were busy. So even though it was a value of ours, in our day-to-day reality, healthy living became an afterthought; something we would be able to focus on later when we had more time.
Life never slowed down! We changed jobs, traveled, remodeled our house, became parents (to two wonderful kids), and many other amazing and time-consuming things. We had short-lived success with fitness, but nothing ever stuck.
Last August we finally reached the end of our rope. Jesse and I were both near our heaviest weights. Very few clothes in our closets fit. We were constantly tired. We became more and more self-conscious about how we looked and felt. Jesse’s lower back pain had become debilitating. He started to become cranky and withdrawn from the kids and me. At that time, we were also planning a 10th anniversary trip to Patagonia in Argentina. It was six months away. We talked a lot about hiking, biking, kayaking, and riding horses but we realized that, in our current state, we would be able to do one of those things and then we would have to spend the rest of the trip recovering. We would be crabby and sore. We would be limited. This didn’t feel like the life we wanted.
Then I stumbled upon a video on Facebook of Dawn working out at BBB. The gym wasn’t fancy (I didn’t want fancy), the workouts looked intense (I liked that), and there seemed to be a sense of encouragement and rooting for one another that was very appealing to me. So I found the Bodies by Burgoon website. I read everything on every page, several times, over the course of a week and finally decided to see if Jesse would be interested. He agreed to a meeting with Jason. If it seemed like a good fit we would rearrange our life for 6 months to make the time commitment and finances work.
That was about a year ago. We went to Argentina and did everything we wanted to do. We hiked mountains. We rode horses. We recovered quickly. It was an amazing trip, but the bigger deal is that when we got home we started working out MORE. We go for runs in our neighborhood together. We’ve NEVER done that. We didn’t want to stop working out just because we had achieved our initial goals. We wanted new challenges.
Something fundamental has changed.
Those changes have affected our whole family. After the grueling first weeks at Bodies by Burgoon we became addicted. It wasn’t easy, but working out began to consume our thoughts and conversations with each other. A new dimension was added to our relationship that began to spill over to our kids (ages 2 & 4). We’re both way more willing to engage in physical activity with them because it is so much more enjoyable for us. Jesse’s body doesn’t hurt and I’m not so tired. We’re finally able to model, and not just preach, the healthy lifestyle we’ve desired for us, and them. One of my favorite things about this whole experience is that we’ve been able to do it together.
I remember my first workout at Bodies by Burgoon in vivid detail. Jason put some wrist wraps and boxing gloves on my hands and showed me how to punch a bag. I thought, “This is gonna be awesome!”.
Twelve minutes and 40 jump squats later I was slumped over in a folding chair, struggling for breath. I felt like I was going to pass out any second and started to panic. “I want to stop. How can I tell him I need to stop without making it seem like I am quitting? This was a mistake. I am not ready for this type of workout”.
Jason just sat on the ground next to me and gave me some water and told me a bunch of stories while I tried to keep it together. After a while, he knew I needed to be done for the day. As I was leaving I said I would get back to him about when I’d be coming in next, thinking to myself “never.” Jason had been nothing but encouraging, but in that moment, I felt so embarrassed and weak.
Over the next few days I could hardly think of anything else. I found myself day dreaming about punching and working out, and what it would feel like to be fit. I was legitimately terrified at the thought of going back, but the thought of not returning was even worse. I knew I had to do something about my physical fitness. Working a sedentary job every day for 13 years straight with almost no regular physical activity or any self-control with food put me in a state that I was very unhappy with. I was always feeling tired and had major lower back pain. Even playing with my kids felt like it required too much physical effort. I had become pretty disgusted with myself, which is no way to live.
So I came back. I made it through my first full workout. I kept coming back twice a week. For the first two months my stomach would turn in knots whenever I pulled into the parking lot at the gym. I wasn’t used to what it felt like to push my body to the limit. So when it happened, I felt like I was going to die and it freaked me out. I asked Dawn if she ever felt afraid like that. She told me two things that have stuck with me: First, don’t bring negative thoughts into the gym with you. Second, just do whatever Jason and Aldon tell you to do, you don’t need to be in control of the situation. That advice was extremely helpful. I started to accept the fact that pain is always going to be a part of this, and learned to not be afraid of it anymore.
I began to see some very tangible changes in my life. I was becoming stronger and leaner, my stamina was increasing and I was learning all sorts of new and fun (yes “fun”) exercises. I became one of those people who actually likes working out so much that I get cranky if I have to miss one. I never thought that would be me.
Being able to do this along with Jody has been awesome. We motivate and support each other. Both of us have been able to see each other fight hard for something and it has deepened our mutual respect. Plus, we get to talk as much as we want about our workouts with someone who actually wants to hear about it!
One of my favorite memories was at the end of a hard workout with Jason. It had been a hard day, and I was fried. I finished a set of burpees and got up to do a round of punching. I began throwing the weakest hooks you could imagine when Jason threw down his mitts and shouted “NO! STOP! Punch like you mean it. You came here to work!”. I gave everything I had for the next five minutes. If you would have seen me, you’d have thought I was about to burst. When I got in my car to head home, I just sat there and cried (and tears don’t come easy for me). It meant a lot to me that someone cared enough to keep me from cheating myself and taking the easy road.
There is truly a culture of positivity and mutual encouragement at Bodies by Burgoon that I think is pretty unique. The people there have been such a positive influence in my life. Aldon, in particular, has not only taught me a ton about how to get absolutely ripped, but also about having confidence and getting rid of self-consciousness. I value every minute I get to spend here.
I have been overjoyed by the changes that have occurred in my relationship with Jesse and the kids but part of this story is just mine.
I’ve always wanted kids but I never planned to be a stay-at-home mom. I’ve been lucky to have jobs I love. I like working hard and doing well with the tasks in front of me. Work made me feel successful. When our son was born I cut back to part-time. Even with that change it felt like I couldn’t get life to work anymore. I thought if I could just figure out the right time management skill or parenting trick everything would fall into place. Jesse began to point out that I was increasingly unhappy but I refused to believe him. I just had to work harder. Shortly after our son turned one we found out we were expecting another baby. We were thrilled but it was time for me to make a hard decision.
After several months of struggling through the options, I resigned. I knew it was the right thing for my family and for me to make this change but a terrible sense of failure hung over me. I hadn’t been able to figure out the trick of work/life balance. On top of that, I had the new challenge of parenting a newborn and 22 month old and keeping a house. I had managed large teams of people and hundreds of complicated details. This should not be a problem. But every night I went to bed with lists of things I had not been able to get done running through my head and interactions with my kids that I had handled poorly weighing me down. I was failing at this too.
It was nearly two years later that Jesse and I decided it was time to tackle our unhealthy habits. I was excited, but frustrated too. Why was this so hard for us? Why couldn’t I just be a person that threw on tennis shoes and ran out the front door? When I found the BBB website I was deeply encouraged by the success stories. Nobody talked about their journeys being quick or easy. They admitted it was hard work, but they were glad they were doing it. Others asked the same questions I did; there is no lack of information out there so why can’t I seem to accomplish this on my own? I liked that there was a sense of everyone cheering each other on. I liked that during our first meeting with Jason he said he only wanted nice people at his gym. He says often that we “succeed as a team” and if a person isn’t going to helpful and encouraging to others, then perhaps BBB isn’t the best fit for them. Feeling needy was uncomfortable for me, but I finally had to admit I needed encouragement. I needed a success in my life. I wanted to be on this team.
I immediately loved the workouts and the people I met while training. About a month in I finished an intense cardio workout with Aldon and discouragement overwhelmed me. Surely after a month it should feel easier, right? And my body? I’ve never worked out so hard in my life! Why hadn’t it magically transformed? I tried to hide out in a corner pretending to do some cool down stretching while I got my emotions under control. I didn’t know how to explain why I was crying. But Aldon came over to check on me, asked if I was ok, and I did my best to explain. I felt silly, but he listened. And then he said, “Changing your body takes a really long time. It’s hard work. It’s like chiseling concrete. You just have to keep showing up.” Something changed for me during that conversation. A new belief system about how fitness works replaced the media messages that proclaim how quick and easy it is to get the body you want
So I kept showing up. I loved that for two hours each week I didn’t have to think about my kids or husband or house. I didn’t have to plan the workout. I didn’t have to think about what was going to happen next. I just had to do exactly what was asked of me in that moment. I met my original goal of loosing 20 pounds. I’m really happy about that. But I’ve done that before. Somewhere in this journey the focus changed. Now I get excited about how much I can lift and how hard I can punch. It’s about strength, inside and out, not just size. Jason and Aldon have shown me that I am capable of so much more than I ever thought.
Not long ago, Aldon had me weight lifting to failure. I literally could not make my body do what I was telling it to do. I hated it. I wanted to feel strong and capable. I wanted to feel like I was good at what I was doing. All of those emotions I had while transitioning out of work and into full time life at home came back to me. I was teary and angry. Aldon said, “Jody, this is exactly what’s supposed to be happening. I’m doing it on purpose. You’re going to fail and fail and fail and eventually you’re gong to get it. That’s how life works, right?”
Yes. He’s right. The past year at Bodies by Burgoon has helped repair something that had broken in me. Doing the hard work I had to do at the gym to get my body in shape helped restore the confidence I needed to tackle problems in other parts of my life. I know I will fail again but I no longer feel defined by failure. I’m going to keep showing up and I’m going to get it.