Why One Swim Workout Changed the Way I Feel About Fitness

As an avid fitness enthusiast, instructor, coach, and director of communities for a company firmly rooted in a culture of health and fitness, it’s assumed that I’ve trained for and completed some kind of distance race.

I often have to correct people when they say something like, “Well you’ve done a half marathon right?” Au contraire, while I don’t have anything against running, I haven’t run more than a 5K “race.” (I say that in quotes, because all the 5K’s I’ve run have been on behalf of a charity my sorority in college was supporting, or that my old corporate job sponsored because beer was part of the equation afterwards.)

The idea of running a half marathon – let alone a full marathon, triathlon, or any other type of distance challenge – seemed not only far off in my future, it honestly didn’t even seem like a goal I wanted to accomplish. Why spend hours on end training solo when I could be taking yoga and other group classes with friends and instructors I know and love?

Knowing all this, you can imagine how surprised I was by myself when I started having the itch to train for something. I didn’t know what or why, all I knew is that I was in a rut, without a goal, and feeling a little out of the flow with my regular routine that had previously been working for me. On a Saturday morning after teaching an early morning yoga class, another teacher at my studio casually mentioned, “I’m going to swim after this.” Don’t ask me how or why this triggered a new sense of excitement and drive for me, I can’t explain it. All I knew was, “I must to swim today, too.”

I promptly rode my bike to FFC with my old one-piece, googles, and a swim cap that my old roommate left behind in tow. This next part of the story I can’t reiterate enough: I had no idea what I was doing. I’ve been in a lap pool three times in my entire life, I’ve never had a swim lesson, I didn’t even know how to put the swim cap on. But in that moment, I decided to ditch all those concerns, jump in the pool, and begin to swim.

For anyone who saw me that day and knows anything about swimming, I can say with certainty you saw an assortment of things going wrong. Water splashing everywhere from kicks that were too dramatic, flailing arms from a person incapable of keeping up with the pace she set for herself, breathing techniques that any kid who was on a swim team back in the day would say, “well that’s just now how you do that.”

Somehow – miraculously – my Type A “need to know how to do this right” personality took a back seat and I just kept swimming. I even made up my own swim workout intervals, swimming two laps without taking a break, then four, then six, then eight, working back down the ladder again until I reached 50 laps.

The moral of this story is not “I’m awesome”—even though I was super proud of staying in the pool for more than a half-mile swim workout.

The moral of this story is really this:

We are astoundingly capable of doing so much more than we think; it’s often the story we create in our heads surrounding a task at hand that gets in the way first. The mental block becomes the physical block. And a mindset shift can unlock so many doors. I felt so fired up after my swim workout victory, I couldn’t help but think, what’s next? The answer fell into place after talking to my friends at FFC: let’s do this triathlon thing, and let’s do it the right way. I’ll be training alongside my friends and other aSweatLife Ambassadors at FFC all summer long and completing the Sprint distance of the Chicago Triathlon on August 25.

Best of all, you can follow along this journey alongside us the entire time. Stay tuned to hear how Team aSweatLife and the FFC Tri-Monster squad are taking on this summer together.

Endurance Move

About Maggie Umberger

Maggie moved to Chicago from North Carolina in 2014 with a degree in Journalism and Spanish, a 200-hour yoga certification, a group fitness cert and a passion to teach and to sweat. It wasn't until she found aSweatLife that she really started to feel at home. Here, she's incorporated her passion for health and wellness into her career as she helps to build the network of Ambassadors, trainers and fitness enthusiasts that exist within the aSweatLife ecosystem. You can also find her coaching at CrossTown Fitness and teaching yoga classes at Bare Feet Power Yoga, Yoga Six and exhale.