Meg Robbins – July 2020 Member of the Month at The Strength Collective Galesburg

Meg Robbins is a 34 year old Pathway Coordinator and Teacher who first started working out right before high school. She was inspired by a Yoga video that taught her how to accept what she thought were her bodies “flaws” and use them to her advantage. During high school she started weightlifting with her school’s football team and continues to strength train 3-4 days per week.

Here’s what she had to say about her fitness journey:

Q: What got you started working out?
A: My sister bought this Crunch Yoga DVD called “The Joy of Yoga” with Sarah Ivanhoe. I must have been in 7th or 8th grade. I was a terrible runner (or at least I felt like it). I was athletic and played sports but always felt a bit self-conscious because I was always “bigger” than all my friends. I started doing the DVD with her and she kept talking about “acceptance” and accepting the movement and doing what felt good to you. That made me realize that while my strength wasn’t running at the time, I could do other things. So in high school I started weightlifting with the football team instead of regular PE; the coach was very inclusive and always made it an option. I learned a lot, and that paired with yoga made me feel good about myself- that was my first positive experience. I still have that yoga dvd (it’s my 3rd copy), and I still return to it when I feel self-doubt.

Q: How many days per week do you typically work out? What groups are you a part of?
A: I try to do 5 with 2 days of rest. I like to do at least 3-4 days of strength. Lately, I’ve been doing all the Zoom workouts including Stay at Home Strong and Warrior Strong (since they began with the quarantine). That’s been such a gift because one of my least favorite things about working out at this point in my life is the brain-power it takes to decide what you are going to do. I love being able to know that I am going to class, and I get to follow. I don’t have to use brain power to make decisions- it’s not a decisions. I AM GOING TO CLASS. That takes all the guess-work and emotional decision making out of the equation. I show up. I get it done. I feel better. I keep going with life.

Q: What’s your favorite exercise?
A: Dead-lifts. Dead-lifts all day! (okay not all day)

Q: What’s your favorite post-workout meal/snack?
A: Chocolate peanut butter smoothie with chocolate protein and almond milk. Or chocolate milk!

Q: What do you find most challenging about working out?
A: I think a limiting belief I had since childhood was that I wasn’t “good” at working out; I wasn’t “as athletic” as my friends. I think the only way to overcome that is to stop thinking about it. You just do it. You move. You have a body and it’s as good as anyone else’s body. And it will do things if you stop thinking and start doing. Listen to others, watch others. And just let go of those limiting beliefs. To quote “Schitt’s Creek” when Alexis says to David when he is freaking out about his driving test, “Nobody cares.” At first that sounds negative; there are plenty of people in this group that care about your success. But literally no one is dwelling on the limiting beliefs you have about yourself. NO ONE. You are the only person who have those beliefs about you. So, you have to do a lot of work on making your own pleasure and success the priority.

Q: What keeps you motivated to workout regularly?
A: Well, to be honest, right now it’s pretty much the only time I get on my own. And although I love my family, I am a much better person to be around when I’ve had some alone time to get focused and centered. If I don’t do it, I feel like a glass of water that’s been spilled on a table. I’m all over the place. So I look for that mental clarity and emotional well-being along with the strength development that working out brings.

Q: What advice do you have for someone who’s thinking about getting started in the gym?
A: We all see those stand-out people that we can tell who have taken the time to develop the knowledge about body work- of course Jenna and Katrina- and Megan too- but perhaps there are other people in the group that we have a connection to for a variety of reasons. Find the person that you feel comfortable enough to ask for help. If it’s working with the weights that you want, and that feels like a daunting task in the beginning because in my opinion, it takes a long time to figure out the lifts and exercises that are right for you (and with good form), just have them go with you. Have them walk you through it and start simply. But really, the easiest thing you can do is go to a class. Whether it’s Warrior Strong or Stay at Home Strong or All Ages Strong; there are always modifications for you. And I modify things all the time. You shouldn’t be perfect because with your fitness and strength journey there’s always somewhere to go. So it’s okay to feel intimidated, it’s okay to feel uncoordinated, it’s okay to feel silly… but just do it anyway. Within a week or two, you will not feel that way. You’ll feel better- stronger, and you’ll already be setting new goals.

Q: What is something you couldn’t do when you started, that you can do now?
A: Push-ups (correctly). I actually saw on a recorded video that my butt was sticking up- but I couldn’t feel it in my body. Jenna posted a video on correct push-ups and it brought my attention to it. So I started from scratch with a modification. I still modify, but I would say I can do at least 5 (8 on a good day) really well. But also, tell me if my butt is sticking up. It takes a village people.

Q: What fitness accomplishment are you most proud of?
A: This sounds weird because it’s not really an accomplishment- but it is an accomplishment to me- but being will to do the Zoom workouts and be recorded for others to “view”. For a long time there was a lot of shame connected to my body. I would have been horrified to workout with other people, let alone have people see me in that capacity. But I’ll remind you of something I said earlier… something that the wise Alexis from “Schitt’s Creek” has said and that someone needs to needlepoint on a pillow. Nobody. Cares. No one is looking at you in disgust. No one is painstakingly viewing your body to look for each flaw or weakness. In fact, MOST people are like, “Dang! I am so motivated because this person is in front of me doing their thing. So I’m going to do that too.” Also, I am proud of my push-ups.

Q: What goals are you working on now?
A: Side planks, core/pelvic floor work. I still have a lot of weakness from babies and surgery. But, it’s improving. In fact, yesterday, I could do the side planks without feeling as much discomfort (I mean, there is discomfort, but it’s the good kind). I still put my knee down for about the last 5 seconds of each side, but that is a real improvement for me. When I get back to lifting weights, I’ll start my goals over with dead-lifts and squats. Weighted squats are a weakness so I’d like to focus on figuring out how to improve and lift more (but I’ll have to start slowly!).

Q: Tell us a random fact about yourself that people might now know?
A: I am a classically trained singer, and I used to “specialize” in French Art songs and Italian Arias. I never performed in a full-fledged opera, but in a lot of opera workshops and smaller scale productions. One of my “gigs” as a kid was a funeral singer. Which sounds really creepy. But there are a lot of families who would like music at funerals and don’t know where to turn. Don’t worry, I also did some weddings. Now I mostly sing folk music and bluegrass for fun in campfire circles, and on bike rides with my son because he thinks it’s really really funny and it’s hilarious to hear him sing “opera”. He is not quite 2. So you can imagine.

Q: What’s your favorite thing about working out at the Strength Collective? A: Well, the first time I came was for Warrior Strong (in-person). I came because I randomly mentioned that it was a dream of mine to get back into fitness after my second child- but it felt far away and unattainable. So for Christmas, that person got my a $150 gift card, which was SO GENEROUS. So, I kind of had to come. hahaha. BUT, I’m so glad that I did because that was the push I needed to stop thinking so much and get into my body again. Now looking back, I really am like, “Why did I wait? Why did I think that wasn’t important?” Because it seems like one of the most important things you can do for yourself. It does not matter what your history is with working out. You could have Zero history. This is still a place for you. I like that about The Strength Collective.

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