Fitness has never been my thing. Sure, I played sports in middle school, and my mom signed me up for gymnastics and ice skating lessons as a kid. But once I started high school, physical activity basically flew out the window. I was in dance . . . for a fine arts credit. I got involved with the cross-country team . . . as the team manager . . . for a PE credit, sitting on the bleachers with the coach and taking others’ run-times. Then there was that brief period when some friends and I did “Insanity” video workouts before school. But as much as we liked to think we were working out, most of our time was spent lying on the floor thinking Mr. T is crazy.

In college, I was notoriously “the girl who doesn’t work out.” But this past December I realized I should be taking better care of my body. So over winter break I decided to give barre a try. I spent a few days researching all the different barre studios in the Houston area, comparing prices and reading Yelp reviews. But when it came down to it, I knew I needed someone to drag me to wherever I was going to go. I had a friend who went to DEFINE body & mind pretty regularly, and  one day she took me to a Body (barre) class. I walked out very confused with what had just happened. Honestly, I’d spent most of my time trying to figure out the movements. (Remember: I’d never spent much time in gyms or studios.) All of it had been so new and overwhelming.

Yet there was something special about DEFINE that kept me coming back. I liked how the instructor asked my name and remembered it through the class. I liked that she could tell when I was confused and would come near my mat to show me how to do something. In every class I learned a new pose, or information about a particular muscle, including why it’s so important. Learning about my body while using it helped me to see that this was something I needed in my life.

My new member package still had about a week left when I got back to Austin from winter break, so I decided to check out what the Austin location was like. I went to DEFINE on South Lamar, and I had the same experience with all the Body instructors there that I’d had in the Houston location. Each of them was knowledgeable, supportive, and encouraging, and they all wanted to know me. As a self-proclaimed teacher’s pet, I thrive in this type of environments . I love hearing “So strong, Hunter” or “Great job, Hunter” or “You got this, Hunter!”

When spring break was coming up, I decided to give the whole cardio thing a try. Despite my sweat-aversion, I made my way to the very back of the Rev room, thinking I could hide, for a class taught by an instructor who knew me. Yet she noticed me immediately and said “Hunter! I’m so glad to see you in here.” With time, indoor cycling became easier. I learned the language, the rhythm presses and travel backs, how to keep the lead leg. It became like a dance. Something you can almost predict what will happen. (These days, when I’m sitting in my car listening to my music, I’m often wishing I was on the bike, keeping the rhythm with my whole body). I soon became acquainted with almost all the instructors and, as they learned about me, I got to know them a bit too. I discovered that these women aren’t just fitness instructors, but also kind and smart people with other jobs and normal lives who simply care about their bodies and want to share this with others.

These instructors have become friends and role models to me as I transition out of college and into the adult world. Seeing them care for their body in healthy ways has made me truly care about my own body—well beyond the way it looks. I’ve learned to care about the way it feels. I like how I’ve developed arm muscles. I like that my flat behind has become ever so slightly less flat. I like how strong my back and legs now feel. And I love that I’ve regained flexibility I haven’t had since my middle school days.  

I’m always genuinely excited to go to DEFINE. They don’t scold me when I haven’t been there for a week, but instead greet me with a smile or a “I’ve missed you!” In the past, whenever I would go to the gym alone, I’d always tell myself, “Good enough. At least you’re here, at least you’re trying.” But I never loved it—let alone liked it. Define has taught me how to love having a healthy body.

Through this journey, I’ve learned that I have more courage, confidence, and strength than I ever realized. This studio pushes me to try new, healthy things in all different parts of my life. I’ve learned that I can do anything I put my mind to.

Hunter Thomson, DEFINE body & mind South Lamar Client since January of 2017