FIRST TIME IS THE HARDEST: I’m Just Going to Rest My Face Here For A Second

Dec 11, 2014 0 comments
FIRST TIME IS THE HARDEST: I’m Just Going to Rest My Face Here For A Second
Written by Noel Bartocci, Researcher & Copywriter at Intuitive Company & freelance writer for
Quick – What’s the worst thing that can happen when trying out a gym or class?

Maybe wearing something embarrassing, not being able to complete an exercise, or there’s a good-looking gal or guy next to you and it’s throwing you off. There are a whole host of things that you don’t want to happen at the gym, but I can bet that all of them share one general theme – bringing unwanted attention to yourself. It’s all about the desire to NOT make a fool of yourself and just do your best.

Well, what if you hurt yourself in spectacular fashion? How are you supposed to handle that?

Never Give Up is a personalized and sport-specific training facility located on the corner of Cresson and Levering that’s been in operation for over a year. If you’ve ever picked up something real quick at Palm, you’ve walked past it. Anytime I’ve seen a group in there, they always seem to be utilizing a different device or a different style of class is taking place, giving me the impression that this was a very versatile facility. I reached out to Ali Cook Jackson, the owner, trainer, and heart of Never Give Up, and she helped me pick the right class. I wanted to take a popular class, with a personal interest in TRX suspension training (you should look it up, it’s cool). She suggested I try the Saturday morning Boot Camp. Being one to never back down from a challenge, even if I am ill equipped to complete it, I enthusiastically agreed.

8:15AM on a very cold Saturday morning, I’m wearing a childish Star Wars tee shirt and stretching in preparation for I don’t know what. I survey my surroundings and notice the variety of fitness options around me. Boxes, kettle bells, mats, TRX straps, ropes, large fitness balls, a treadmill, weights, a ginormous tire, and anything else you can do reps on or with. I couldn’t help but feel impressed by Ali’s use of space and was looking forward to how much of this was going to be incorporated into the next hour. There was a little bit of dread, too, but that’s normal with the unknown. I was just going to go for it.

The class fills up to about ten people and we get started. Quickly paced, cardio-based exercises consisted of our “warm-up” for the first 10 minutes or so of the class. I use quotes because this warm up is already winding me and I start to think I’m in over my head. A blended cocktail of burpees, planks, pushups, etc. are successfully getting the blood pumping. Ali noticed me struggling, but pushing through and didn’t let that observation go unnoticed. It’s always nice to get some positive reinforcement when you’re outside of your (lazy) comfort zone. Then came time for the workout.

“The workout,” I thought. “What have I been doing this whole time?”

She starts to set up stations in every available space of the gym, each housing a piece of workout equipment. She then proceeds to explain to us what we’ll be doing in each station and that we will rotate to each after two 30-second bursts of energy. The exercises were varied, seemingly unrelated, but from a higher level you can see that she constructed a fully balanced workout. One that from any level, high or low, looked challenging. I did the only thing I could – Jump in. After three exercises (TRX, high knees using the giant tire, and dead lifts with the kettle bell) at a minute-a-piece pace, the adrenaline started to take over. I was fully exerting myself, but I started to get to that point where you just push and start to smile about it. If you’ve ever run long distances, you’ll know what I am talking about. It’s that dumb grin you get when you can’t decide whether you want to be hurt or be proud and laugh about it, because quitting is the only other option…and that’s just not going to work. Next up, the treadmill.

I instinctually tucked my chin and looked down when I felt my feet lose traction. The bridge of my nose hit first, not hard enough to break anything, but enough to bounce my head back up like a ball. At this exact moment my knee hit and caught that traction that my foot struggled for a split second prior, pulling me back. The front of my mouth hit next and last, skidding down the remainder of the tread and flat to the floor. Faster than I could check that my teeth were still in my mouth (spoiler: they were), Ali was on her knees next to me. In hindsight, I have no idea how she got there so quickly.

Fear, pain, embarrassment, mortification, did I mention pain… I socked myself so good that my eyes were tearing and the skin from the tip of my nose to the top of my lip was gone. Ali led me to the bathroom five feet away to assess the situation. The class paused for a brief period, some seeing what I did to my face, others engrossed in their own workouts (as well they should’ve been). I pressed a washcloth loaded with ice too my face and Ali stayed with me. “Do you want to go to the hospital,” she asked. I pulled the pink hued washcloth from my face and looked in the mirror. I could see, that though the damage wasn’t pretty, my nose was still in one piece and I had my teeth. I was able to see straight and since my face was numb, all that really hurt was my pride. I declined a sit down in the emergency room.

My first thought after the initial shock, which is silly in hindsight, was that the class continued. I didn’t want anything to stop on my account. Ali informed me that her protégé Miccala had taken over the class and her main concern was making sure I was okay. I finally left the bathroom with her encouragement (at that point, I would’ve been fine with sitting in a hole for a few hours – a hole specifically designed for people who do dumb things). Everyone in the class was awesome and not a soul made a snicker or joke, which, frankly, perked me up a bit. It’s as though I touched the nerve of a general treadmill fear. In the days since my stumble many people have made a, my-worst-fear face when I explained to them why I am covering my mouth or can’t smile as wide.

As I sat in the front room of the gym, watching the remainder of boot camp, I couldn’t help but feel that I wanted to finish the class. I had a bundle of ice pressed to my open and swollen face and all I wanted to do was get in there and keep going. The energy that fills Never Give Up is not one of shame, embarrassment (even though I did my best to make it so), or compromises. Everyone there felt for me when I fell, picked me up when I needed help, and didn’t baby or condescend me with experience or ability (which was clearly far superior to mine). We were all on the same team and I felt that through the discomfort of my raw face. I could only imagine how great it feels while in the workout.

That’s why I chose to write about not being able to finish the class. I could’ve just healed, pretended it never happened (which would’ve been ideal), and taken another class to write about. But that’s not how it happened. It’s easy to describe an activity that goes well, but even more telling to assess a situation in the midst of disaster (in this instance my own personal disaster).

Since that morning, Ali has contacted me more than once to make sure I’m okay and that other people have asked about me. I mean, part of me wants them all to erase it from their memories, but the other part of me is incredibly grateful for the concern. How Ali and her team dealt with me when I couldn’t stay upright is a ringing endorsement of the staff and atmosphere of Never Give Up. They surely don’t and neither should you.

P.S. Yes. I plan on going back.


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