"My Fitness Journey," by Jessica Van Ruiten - Fitness Quest 10

“My Fitness Journey,” by Jessica Van Ruiten

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Growing up with a rock star mom who was, and very much still is, extremely athletic exposed me to many sports and outdoor activities at a young age. I played a range of sports from elementary through high school, and loved being active and outdoors. Although physical fitness has always been a large part of my life, I feel as though my fitness journey didn’t really begin until I moved to San Diego from Las Vegas in 2012.

Although I love being outdoors and staying active, above all I am passionate about art. Believe it or not, being a ceramic artist is largely why I stay fit. The physicality of working with clay was something I had never considered until I began experiencing pains in my back and neck. When I first began throwing on the potter’s wheel (insert funny Ghost reference), I would hear the more experienced artists around me complaining about how strenuous it was to work in clay, discussing various exercises to prevent injuries, etc. Arrogantly, I assumed that because I was young, lived an active lifestyle, and was in decent shape I had nothing to worry about. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Sitting for hours slumped over a pottery wheel, often working with over 20 pounds of clay at a time, caused me to develop aches and pains in places I never knew existed. The extended amount of time I was spending in the studio caused me to sustain the same neck, back, and wrist injuries that many studio potters don’t typically develop for several years into their practice. I carried on for a while, assuming that as I became more proficient at throwing on the wheel, the pain and discomfort would subside. Of course it only worsened, and it came to a point where I had to either give up my dream of being a ceramicist, or start working out and taking care of my body.

Looking back it seems like a no-brainer – all I had to do was work out more and I would be fine. However, at the time, I was exercising, eating well enough, and really thought I was in fine shape. I didn’t know what else I could do to improve my physical condition. I felt underserving of severe back pain at the age of 23. And from what, too much pottery?! Ridiculous. The issue seemed so farfetched that I simply did not know how to address it. Fortunately, right as I was dealing with my “quarter life crisis,” Fall semester was ending and I took a trip home to Las Vegas for winter break.

During my trip home my mother took me to Red Rock and taught me how to rock climb (I told you she was a rock star!). I instantly fell in love with the sport and it gave me the physical and mental break from ceramics that I needed.

I joined a climbing gym as soon as I returned to San Diego. Like any new sport or activity, it was intimidating being in an unfamiliar environment with very little experience. Climbing, however, is an incredibly social sport, and the community and people are welcoming in ways very similar to FQ10. I made fast friends with many of the more experienced members, and began working hard and setting goals for myself based on the desire to climb WITH my new friends, not just staring in awe as they climbed things seemingly far beyond my abilities.

So I trained. I began researching exercises to increase my strength and improve my technique, and spent nearly all of my spare time at the gym. Within a year I had not only reached my goal, but far surpassed it. It felt amazing to be a female climber in a predominately male sport, climbing just as hard (if not harder) than most of the boys.

So where does Fitness Quest 10 fit in? Rounding on my third year in San Diego, I was ready to call it home and began seeing myself as not only a student but a resident as well. I wanted to work somewhere fun and exciting with like-minded individuals. I searched for a while, waiting patiently for the right opportunity, and finally came across an ad from FQ10. Not only are the members and team absolutely incredible, but the facility is perfect for helping me attain my own fitness goals – such as climbing the Nose of El Capitan in Yosemite by 2017! I still have quite a long way to go on my fitness journey, but feel excited and confident that FQ10 will help me get exactly where I need to be.

There is a well-organized medical service with all necessary equipment. SCOTT & WHITE HOSPITAL- COLLEGE STATION.

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