The first step is the hardest

I grew up in a family of athletes. My two older brothers played basketball all the way through college, and my little sister is a three-sport athlete and plays on club teams. They are very good at what they do. I, on the other hand, was not exceptionally good at any athletic activities. Part of it may be that they are all at least 6 foot tall, and I am 5'8 (the picture below was from two years ago when I was still taller than my younger sister), but I tried every sport in high school (Track, Cross Country, Tennis, Soccer, and Cheer leading) looking for some sort of enjoyment or natural talent. The truth was I hated physical activity, but I liked being a part of a team so I kept doing it. When I was on these sports teams, I did everything I could to avoid as much working out as I could, whether that meant faking an injury or saying my asthma was acting up.

After one of my brothers’ last College Basketball games together in 2014.

When I came to Marquette, it was no surprise that I was not recruited by the Girls’ Basketball team. My roommate coaxed me into working out on occasion, but I never pushed myself hard because then I would be tired or sweaty (two things I did not enjoy). I ate what I wanted, and watched Netflix in my free time. I was never overweight or unhappy, but I knew that I could not always live like this. I tried running, looking up workouts on Pinterest, and yoga. Those things worked for a temporarily, but soon I was finding excuses again.

A Wall Street Journal article called “Hard-Wired to Hate Exercise?” reassures me that maybe in fact I have a low physical capacity and that’s why I hate working out. Or my body’s sensations are just always telling me no, and that’s why I suck at pushing myself physically. This did not quite make sense because although I hated running during cross country, I still was able to finish the races without too much trouble. What really stuck out in my mind was this quote, “adults can be discouraged from exercising by not knowing what to do or how to do it”. Maybe the reason I hate working out is because there is no one there telling me what to do. So I needed a trainer, but there is no way I could afford that, so I guess I will just wait until I am rich and famous.


I went home for the summer after my first year at Marquette, and my best friend told me about this fitness place called “9Round” where you exercise through kick boxing. Even though I had never thought about it a small part of me always wanted to punch a bag and say I was a kick boxer (it sounded really bad ass). The first class is free, so I had nothing to lose by trying it out.

My friend, Kelly, and I after our first 9Round workout.

I loved it.

It was hard, but the first step always is.

Essentially, there are 9 rounds (get it?) each lasting 3 minutes and there are 30 seconds between each round where you do a “resting” exercise (i.e. wall-sits, push-ups, or line jumps). Those are the longest 3 minutes of your life, but strangely the workout as a whole goes by very quickly. My arms were so tired I didn’t know if I could hold my phone after the work out.

So I bought a membership and immediately thought “who am I?” because if you would’ve asked me a year ago (or even a day before trying 9Round) I would laugh at the idea of spending money on working out, but I did and I still do. I have seen incredible changes in my fitness level over the last 6 months. I won the Challenge of the Week for women in November by doing 40 burpees in 3 minutes.

My story is not the only successful one. I think 9Round could be almost everyone’s favorite workout, and the greatest advocators for 9Round are those who go. My current roommate, Liz Kreilkamp, hated working out as much as I did. Although she still kind of hates it, she bought a membership and goes with me at least twice a week here in Milwaukee. Liz shares, “Getting in the door is the hardest part. Once you’re there it goes by so fast and you feel so accomplished afterward. I guess I am still getting in the groove, but you win some and you lose some”.