Bookish Things, Gym Life

Book Club Fun

The ladies at my gym, to whom we refer to as Valkyries, had been bugging me for weeks to start up a book club. I finally pulled my finger out and organised it. I chose three books for them to vote on, recorded myself talking about them (I’d only read one of the three so I used reviews to help inform me for the other two), posted a poll, we voted, we read the book, and met on the last Sunday of July. The book the ladies chose was The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin and we met at the beautiful Riverbend Books and Cafe in Bulimba. I had some notes to help prompt and direct conversation, which included things like themes, characterisation, and plot devices, but I rarely needed them. The conversation flowed beautifully and everyone become more and more confident to share their opinions as the hour flew by. At the end I had organised for Vicky, Event Manager at Riverbend, to do a book chat for us and we used that to vote on our next month’s book: Circe by Madeline Miller.

I don’t want to spend the rest of this blog post reflecting on what we talked about, but rather the impact the actual book club had on me, the Valkyries that attended, and those that were unable to make it..

For those that came:

It was interesting to see their confidence grow. Many had said before coming that they’d never been a part of a book club before and weren’t sure what was expected of them. Throughout the month they shared their reading progress and thoughts (without spoilers and wasn’t that a tough skill for them to learn!). When we caught up they made remarks such as:  “I actually finished the book, and I can’t remember the last time I actually finished a book!” During the meeting I could tell that they were taking it very seriously, but were also having fun. Opinions were respectfully shared and discussed, and I know that I learnt a lot about the women that came. It gave a real sense of community to women that tend to only hang out at the gym.

For those that couldn’t come:

There were a couple that didn’t come because they hadn’t read the book and possibly felt embarrassed. Upon learning this I made it very clear (to everyone) that not finishing the book because life gets busy is no reason to miss out if you’re able to come on the day. Book club can still be stimulating if you haven’t had the chance to read the book. Just hanging out with the women in your community is enough to spark new ideas. Others were unaware of book club and soon became interested in attending the next one! I think I’ll probably need a bigger table next time…

For myself:

It hit me, how lucky I am to be able to talk about books, read widely, and explore new ideas through fiction as part of my job. I’ve been a fully qualified Teacher Librarian for three years now and I have never really stopped to think how lucky I am as a human being. I often remark on how lucky I am to work with the beautiful students at Mount Alvernia College, and how I get to read for my job and discuss books with the students all the time. What I didn’t realise is that I was missing that element of adult connection beyond my work. Getting to share my passion for books outside of my TL job and in my gym owner role is really special. The women that participated said that they really valued being able to have intellectual conversations outside of their own workplaces, and that they loved being challenged to think deeply not only about the book itself, but why they reacted the way they did. I hadn’t realised that I had been missing this interaction and connection with adults too. I love my students, and I love their passion for books, but it’s so lovely to be able to discuss (and for me, actually read) Adult Fiction in depth and without fear of saying the wrong thing. The Valkyries do not shy away from discussing any topic, nothing is off limits, and its so freeing to be able to talk about everything with women that challenge me to be better.

So, I cannot wait for our next meeting. We’re going to try and get in at Avid Reader in West End. I’m looking forward to reading Circe and hearing what the Valkyries have to say!

krystalgagen:

I had so much fun at our @valhalla_strength_sth_bne #valkyriesbookclub at @riverbendbooks this morning! I often forget how privileged I am to be able to read widely and talk about books daily. So grateful to be able to share that experience with my beautiful Valkyries. We voted for Circe next month and I’m super excited.

I asked the Valkyries for some selfies with their books and here are my examples that I gave them for inspiration 😂 Grumpy face was a tester because I was struggling with the steadiness of my hand 😂

#gagensreads#adventuresoftheliftinglibrarian

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Gym Life

Bouncing back from injury

Injuries – we’ve all been there one way or another. But how we bounce back is everything, and how we prepare to ensure we don’t end up with a reoccurence is even more important.

When I was first taught how to lift I was taught the basic movements and told to practice that until it became natural. That approach did work during my “beginner gains” period. After a while, things started to go poorly for me because even though my lifting looked and felt natural, it wasn’t technically proficient which lead to some interesting issues. I don’t want to talk about these issues though – I want to talk about what happened next.

I had to go back to basics – I’m talking breathing, goblet squats, hinge patterning, etc! The sort of stuff that we now drill into our new lifters, but for me it was an important step that I missed; hindsight is a wonderful thing, and we’re so lucky to have a coach that understands nailing the basics! So today, I want to talk about how it’s important to accept that going back to the basics is not a step backwards, but should be seen as a massive leap forward.

Let’s talk about breathing as an example. We all get told to take a deep breath in before lifting, and to “push against your belt” – but are you actually doing it correctly, or are you causing more issues for yourself? One of our members recently discovered that she was struggling to breathe correctly and so she sought help from a physiotherapist. Our Valkyrie ended up being rather frustrated at how “basic” the exercises were and how she just wanted to throw the heavy weights around instead! I’m pretty sure we have all felt that way at some point with our training.

My advice is this: you need to think of your training just as you would think of building a house – you must lay the proper foundations first. Yeah, you can build a house on shoddy foundations just as you can learn to squat in an inefficient manner, but one day your walls will come tumbling down when your foundations fail you. Take the time now to work on all the basic movement patterns, to set yourself up for being technically proficient before you start adding huge amounts of weight.

From someone that has had to relearn how to squat, bench, AND deadlift, I know that I am stronger and wiser from taking the time to work on my breathing, and basic movement patterns – squatting, pressing, pulling, hinging and carrying.

Originally posted on VALHALLA Strength – South Brisbane

Gym Life

Finding your “people” in training

What many people don’t understand is who you train with can (and will) make or break your session.

I want to share with you something that I only just realised for myself this year. If you want to succeed at training, and if you want to give yourself a reason to turn up to the gym when you really don’t want to, I recommend “finding your people”. Some refer to this as “finding your tribe” but for me, that’s synonymous with the beautiful teenage girls I teach and so I use the term “my people” instead.

Having your people around when you’re training can be a game changer. I have had a bad session turned around just by checking in with one of mine. I’ve seen others experience something similar, over and over and over again. It’s a powerful thing. Why is this the case?

When we go to the gym, it’s easy to bring our work or personal baggage with us. It’s easy for our terrible days to drag us down. When you have your people expecting you at the gym it can be a motivator. When you rock up to the gym feeling like you’d rather be anywhere else, these people can remind you of your goals and push you to get your training done. And the best part? Your people don’t even have to be training for the same reason that you are.

When you find someone that understands your goals, that gets what you’re working towards and offers to share your journey, it forms a connection that is strong. I know that I personally have only been training consistently since the beginning of the year because I know that my people will be at the gym, ready to train with me and to get me through sessions when I’d rather not be there.

So for everybody out there who is lacking inspiration at the gym – go and find your people. It will be the best thing you ever do for your training.

Originally posted on VALHALLA Strength – South Brisbane

Gym Life

Dreaming big, bigger than just me alone.

About a month after the opening of our gym, I had a real moment of self doubt. My life as I knew it was crumbling around me and I wasn’t sure I could do what was being asked of me. I sat down and wrote out my thoughts and it helped me process my emotions, everything became clearer. 6 months later and we’re doing better than ever, so I thought I’d share with you all my moment of doubt that lead to some serious self discovery.

To the partners,

To the partners that have found themselves doing jobs they’d never think they’d do to support their significant others, I admire you. For the…

  • hours you put in for a job you don’t get paid to do
  • time spent learning new skills on top of your existing ones
  • never ending thoughts about how this is going to impact on your own career and if you even care at this point
  • friendships you neglect without meaning to in order to survive
  • social events you decline because you’re either unavailable or too tired to attend
  • family events you never make it to, have to arrive late to or leave early from
  • help you ask for from your parents, whether that be borrowing things, physical labour, financial support, looking after your pets or kids, or generally accepting your reasons for doing what you’re doing, no matter how crazy it seems in the beginning
  • sleepless nights wondering how it’s all going to work out
  • late nights and early mornings you choose to take on so that your significant other can get some sleep
  • worrying over their health because you know that if they get sick, you’ll struggle even more
  • missed meals or take away that you end up relying on because who honestly has the time or energy to shop?
  • constant battle of knowing they need your help but meeting resistance every time you offer because they don’t want to make your life harder
  • fights and frustration
  • tears and the emotional storm that comes with having to juggle everything and not just survive, but somehow thrive

But on the other hand, there’s there…

  • pride you feel when you see how happy this new venture makes them
  • statements made about how well they’re doing
  • knowledge that they are doing everything to give you the empire they think you deserve
  • satisfaction of looking around at all that you have achieved and knowing that you helped build it
  • people you meet and the new friendships you form
  • promises of freedom and adventure when everything works out in the end
  • love and gratitude you feel towards and from your partner

This path I now walk was one I never even dreamt of doing. When I met my significant other it had never crossed my mind that one day we would be running a gym together. I am happy in my career, I have my dream job and I can never see myself leaving it for anything else, but I will do whatever it takes so that my husband-to-be can feel the same satisfaction from his chosen profession. If that means that for now I take on many more roles, so be it. We do what it takes to help those we love achieve their dreams. Valhalla Strength – South Brisbane has been his dream. It’s now mine too.

#takemetovalhalla

Image attribution: Ivan. Dreaming about the starts. (CC BY-SA 2.0)