We recently reached out to Heather who works out at our Tribe in Franklin, Tennessee. Heather first came to Iron Tribe as a marathon runner. With a complicated past when it comes to diet and exercise, Heather began to reframe her mindset about her health and fitness. What she discovered was she’s a lot stronger than she thinks, and she has a Tribe that’s always there to encourage her. 

Check out Heather’s story! 

How did you hear about Iron Tribe?

I first heard about Iron Tribe through several of my co-workers. There was an Iron Tribe right down the street from our work (ITF Cool Springs), and they would go on their lunch breaks. I’ve always been a marathon/long distance runner, so I just assumed it was just another branded gym. I went on my runs, they would go do their workouts. I didn’t think much of it.

What made you decide to join? 

One of my co-workers saw great results through Iron Tribe, and he invited me to a free trial week at one of the new locations nearby (ITF Franklin). I was up for the challenge — I can run a marathon! What could be so hard about a 45 minute class? I had no idea…my first workout was so challenging. It was a Push class with a lot of rowing, core, and dumbbell work. I remember feeling super intimidated because I’ve always been a lone runner — never been big on group runs or group fitness. I was afraid I wouldn’t know what to do or that people in the class would look at me funny because I didn’t know my way around these movements.

That couldn’t have been farther from the truth.

I’m so impressed with the excellence in our coaches and how they balance a class with elite athletes and first-timers

I was immediately welcomed by the other athletes in class and guided well by the coaches. They explained the workout in a way that allowed me to feel confident enough going into the workout, yet they weren’t ‘dumbing down’ the rest of the class. (to this day, it holds true, and I’m so impressed with the excellence in our coaches and how they balance a class with elite athletes and first-timers). Also, I noticed there was literally a scale for every movement, regardless of where each athlete was in his or her fitness journey. Each workout could be done and adapted for the athletes in the room. No one shamed another for the scale they chose. It actually felt like it was normal for each athlete to be doing something different. That was refreshing.

I knew I needed community and full-body workouts that encompassed so much more than what I had been doing.

I went back each day for the entire week, and I’ve never felt more sore in my life! The workouts highlighted my need to incorporate strength training into my regimen. I realize how running really wasn’t covering all my bases, and I was coming to a point in my life where I was almost bored from running (and the isolation wasn’t helping). I knew I needed community and full-body workouts that encompassed so much more than what I had been doing. And I needed a coach to keep me accountable for doing the workouts I wouldn’t choose on my own. I decided to join, and after 2 1/2 years, I barely miss a day.

What kinds of results have you seen?

Having been a marathon runner most of my life, I was used to the lanky frame I carried, not having much muscle, explosive strength or power. I was also prone to injury due to the ware and tear running had on my joints, bones, and lean muscle.

Gaining weight has always been a struggle, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally as well. I had battled a debilitating eating disorder for a decade, and I finally came to a place of healing in 2011. Since then, fitness has always challenged me in my ideas of what ‘strong’ looks like and feels like.

Comparison has also played a part in how I viewed my body, whether in the gym or in a race. Too much weight would slow down my runs, yet not enough weight, and I would feel weak. My fitness journey in these past 2 1/2 years has totally taken those perceptions and flipped them upside down.

I’ve seen my body change in ways I never knew possible, and I’ve actually been ok with it.

I’ve gained muscle, confidence, strength, and a renewed mindset for what ‘healthy’ looks like. My coach has helped me through this journey, being sensitive to my past, and still challenging me in how I see myself. He’s helped me look at numbers differently. (example: The old 6 foot 125 pound Heather couldn’t be expected to throw her body weight above her head. But I can now.)

I look more at my muscle mass numbers than I do at my weight as a whole. I see my numbers in a way that makes sense and is logical — contrary to the illogical lies I had in my head about the numbers on a scale. My weight and my muscle is consistent with the work I’m able to do in the gym.

I’ve also learned what it means to fuel myself with what it needs to grow and sustain the strong athlete I’ve become. Iron Tribe coaches have taught me nutrition and held me accountable in a way I’ve not experienced, and I see and feel the results.

Also, the community I’ve found at ITF is unmatched. They are my family, both in the gym and outside. I remember taking two weeks off for an injury, and I felt surrounded and cared for by my Tribe family. We don’t compare, and when we compete, it’s healthy and encouraging, not discouraging. We celebrate our victories together and push each other. 

Why would you encourage others to take a leap of faith and give Iron Tribe a shot? 

I honestly thought I would be the last person to join a place like Iron Tribe. And now I can’t imagine not having that place (and those people) as a part of my day-to-day. I’m now a person who welcome community, accountability, and vulnerability in my fitness journey… not to mention burpees and thrusters!

I’ve seen my body do incredible things – movements I never thought I’d be able to do. I’ve competed in competitions, bounced back from injuries, found balance in my nutrition, and not only accepted but loved myself as a strong woman. That strength is just a part of who God made me to be, and I believe He continues to reveal things to me through fitness and trust in His process.