We hit the turf for many reasons beyond physical appearance. We sweat so we can escape the stress of work, family, clients, and getting honked at every damn day. We gain clarity, perspective, connections, and a daily reset—which is so much more than six-pack abs.
This post started with Kasia. Although it’s written on the website, not many athletes realize our coach once smoked a pack a day before finding yoga and the weightroom. When asked about it, her response was, “Well yea, quitting smoking was great and all…but the best thing fitness ever gave me was confidence.”
Confidence is not as easily measured as pounds or inches, but carries much more worth. Below, four teammates share the greatest thing they gained from fitness, and why they originally hit the turf.
My biggest gain: Confidence
Quitting smoking started with getting into a good regimen with yoga. I surrounded myself with people who didn’t smoke and reinforced good habits. I would take class then drink a smoothie, putting one good habit into place and layering another on top of it.
But here’s the thing—quitting smoking isn’t the biggest thing I gained through fitness. The biggest thing I gained was confidence. There are two kinds of confidence: Physical confidence, where you think, “Oh damn, I look good,” and something much bigger.
The confidence I gained is a feeling I can only describe when boarding a flight. I’ll pick up my luggage to place in the overhead compartment and hear a male voice say, “Do you need help?” and I’m like, “Nah brah, I got this.” I don’t care if it’s something as small as opening a jar or lifting a suitcase—I do not need a man to do it for me. I don’t need anyone to do it for me. And I take pride in that.
There’s a shift in yourself, especially as a woman, that happens when you become physically stronger. I love doing things on my own. It’s actually been a point of contention in past relationships. But you cannot be with someone who needs you to be less in order for them to feel secure. Finding yoga then lifting weights helped me be that woman—a woman who LOVES carrying her own shit.
My biggest gain: Bettering myself in a healthy way.
I always had a perfectionist mentality. I’m a type-A, high-strung person, and throughout college and into my twenties, I never knew how to handle it.
Anxiety is an adrenaline rush; I always sought-out activities to match that adrenaline. Before, this meant going out and getting blackout drunk, resulting in a DUI and ending friendships left and right. Fitness was the first thing that gave me that same high, without the downward spiral. The things we do at Cut Seven are so far out of my comfort zone. For the longest time, I was so scared to do a box jump. But when I did it? That was the best feeling ever.
Fitness—particularly Cut Seven—taught me to channel my stress in a healthy way. I’m a behavior analyst working with young children with autism. It’s emotionally draining, but very rewarding. Most of my anxiety comes from the stress I put on myself, wanting to excel at work and in my personal life.
When you go through tough times, you don’t want to do the hard work to pull yourself out. It’s easy to get fucked up. It’s easy to connect over drinks and forget about the tough shit. It’s a lot harder to seek out healthy, like-minded people, bettering yourself in a healthy way.
The days I don’t want to workout are my BEST workouts. When I’m anxious, the last thing I want is to be a chatty teammate. But once you’re in it, you forget about your own shit because you’re helping your team be better. By helping others, you’re helping yourself.
My biggest gain: Letting go
I was raised in a very religious home. When I came out, my parents didn’t accept it. They basically told me that if I chose this lifestyle, they wouldn’t speak to me.
I thought going out and partying was what being gay was. Moving to DC only upped the intensity. Over the course of five years I drank, took ecstasy, and eventually took heavier drugs like crystal meth. I had this moment in the mirror where I just hated who I was and wished I could die. It was this pivotal moment when I was like, “I’m a drug addict.”
I talked to my boss who suggested group therapy, and found a network of people who helped me lead a sober life. I started going to SoulCycle, and loved the feeling of losing myself in the workout. Then I found Cut Seven.
I still struggle with mood swings and anxiety, and do daily maintenance through prayer, fitness, openness, and meditation. But when I’m here, I don’t think of anything else. I’m so in this moment. My name is being screamed, Rihanna is playing, Chris is telling you that you can do it, and everyone is working toward this common good. When I was in that old lifestyle, I wanted it. But you can have that same level of fun in a healthy way.
I am very open with my story. Maybe it’s because of how I was raised, or because, for the longest time, I tried to escape what I felt. Now, I hope it helps those going through something similar.
I had to live that hard life to get to where I am today. Fitness taught me how to let go. Life is uncomfortable at times, but you can still find peace and joy in the mundane. With fitness, you can push your body, set goals, see results in the mirror, and be proud of yourself. It’s about building a life, not destructing one.
My biggest gain: Self awareness
I didn’t realize I suffered from ADHD and depression until later in life. I was a jock and a band geek growing up, and my go-go-go schedule never gave me time to stop and think.
College was the first time I had bandwidth for self-thought and self-awareness. In those moments I realized I couldn’t focus on one task. I was easily distracted, always fidgeting and looking around. This was also when I started questioning my sexuality, placing me in a big state of depression. I thought I had no identity or purpose in life. I felt like if I disappeared, no one would notice.
When I switched my major from biology to exercise science, I learned how the body can chemically change during a workout. Lifting gave me two things: One, it was the first thing I could start and see through completion; and two, it made me feel something.
When you’re depressed, you feel hollow and empty. People harm their bodies because they want to feel something. When I started lifting heavy, muscle fatigue gave me that feeling. I lifted heavier and heavier and set a goal to out-lift anyone at the gym. There is nothing more empowering than doubting your self-worth then deadlifting 200 pounds.
The more I learned, the more I realized how I could help other people. I have this one client who, at seventy years old, couldn’t get off the floor two years ago. Now, she can lift herself up using a steady surface. That made me realize that what I pushed through can be applied to anyone and any situation. You see the weakness and worthlessness you once felt, then you step over it or push past it.
Being depressed is like living a regimented life: wake up, do the same thing, go to bed. I will do anything to stay off that hamster wheel. That’s what I love about Cut Seven. Every time I get sick of something, it’s like “Three minutes! Swap out your teammate! Next station!” I like to constantly change things up—both on the turf and in life—because it reminds me I’m alive and in control of my happiness.
—Thank you team, for sharing your stories!