As you can imagine, our email inboxes are constantly "ding"-ing with all things REFIT. There's one kind of email, however, that consistently brings a huge smile to our faces: your stories of transformation. If we could, we would put you all on a stage, give you a big 'ole microphone, and let you share every aspect of your journey. Until we make that happen, just know that we can't get enough of your stories online!
That's why we're taking today's story to the blog. Dena is one of our rockstar instructors in Florida, and she unpacked her fitness journey with REFIT for the whole world to see. Read below as Dena shares with us what it's like to conquer fear and insecurity, one step of bravery at a time.
"Today I want to share a journey with you. I've been on this journey for a very long time and let me tell you, I have come a very long way.
First a little back story. This is me:
When I was growing up, I was terribly shy. So shy, in fact, that I sometimes had a hard time speaking up within my own family. This shyness stemmed from a fear that what I said would be wrong, or worse, laughed at. I never felt good enough. Even now at 48 years old, I struggle with these feelings. It's insecurity and I've always wanted to be free of it, but I can't seem to dig those thoughts and feelings out of my head.
To compound the problem, after my first child was born, I was not able to take off the pregnancy weight. I added to the extra weight with 2 more pregnancies and more feelings of not being good enough, because now I was overweight and not attractive. I wasn't one of those beautiful creatures who may be overweight but still has this inner confidence that shines through and makes them what everyone else wishes they could be. Nope I was fat, tired, and insecure.
The above picture was taken the day before I went in to have gastric bypass surgery. This story is not about my journey with GBP surgery. I only mention it because it plays a small part in the story. After weight loss surgery I lost 150 lbs. In the 10 years since then I've gained a little back, as most patients do.
So now I found myself at a reasonable weight. I was thinner, healthier and for a long time got many, many compliments from people on my weight loss. You would think this would give me tons of confidence, right? It didn't. I wished people would stop noticing that I had lost weight. Where before I stood in the back because I was overweight, now I stood in the back because I didn't want anyone to notice me. Nothing much had changed except for the fact that I wasn't overweight any more.
Fast forward to January 2013. I was invited to go to a free dance fitness class. I didn't really want to go but my sisters were going and I thought, 'I'll go once and then I'll be able to say I didn't like it and I won't go back.' We showed up and stood on the very back row. I did the routines, or tried, it was tricky to find my rhythm. It was a good workout but I still wasn't convinced. I decided to go once more, and I don't know what, but something at the second class clicked. I was hooked! I'm not a dancer but I enjoyed pretending to be one for an hour twice a week. My instructor Nikki became my hero. She wasn't your normal fitness instructor. She wasn't tiny. She didn't dance like a natural born dancer. She was real. She had an injury that she struggled with. She messed up from time to time. She had insecurity issues that she shared with us, but she overcame them and got on that stage and taught us anyway. It made me feel like if she could do that then I could stand in a crowd of women and dance for an hour. It wasn't long until I went from the back row to the middle of the crowd.
I continued going to dance fitness classes for around a year until my instructor told us that she was starting a new form of dance fitness called REFIT. It was so new, that our class would be the first REFIT class in the state of Florida. We were making history. REFIT Revolution
is similar to other dance fitness formats in that it's dance exercise set to music, but REFIT is so much more. It is about community, building relationships, and building each other up while you exercise. It is about making yourself a better person, and no one will ever feel out of place. Everyone wants to see you succeed, and so you do. They have a saying that 'REFIT feels like home,' and it does. I've been doing REFIT since Nikki first introduced us to it and I've gone from the back row to the middle to the front of the class. I've also become an avid supporter.
At some point last year I started feeling like I wanted to really overcome my insecurities. I was in a women's exercise and friendship group, and one of the challenges was to do something to better yourself. I thought about that for about 5 minutes. What could I do to better myself? I immediately knew it had to be something to work on overcoming my insecurities and once I knew that, I knew I had to go up onstage at REFIT. I was terrified! I contacted Nikki and told her what I wanted (I really didn't WANT to) and asked her to pick a song that I knew really well. She agreed and we chose the song 'Good Morning' by Mandisa, which I had been dancing to since that very first class. Long story short, I got up there and felt great about myself. But that wasn't helping me to overcome my insecurities. It was still heavily on my mind. Around September of last year during class, Nikki started a routine that I knew very well and looked down at me on the front row and said, 'You need to get up here.' I shook my head and thought, 'no way, lady!' But then I remembered, 'overcome those insecurities. These women WANT you to succeed.' So I did it,and I messed up, but I felt awesome!
It wasn't long after this that I found out that the founders of REFIT were having a master class in a city near me in late July 2016. I was excited to meet the founders and be able to participate in one of their classes, AND it was only $10 so I signed up. But this thought of overcoming my insecurities was more and more on my mind. I knew that the day after this master class there would be an new instructor training and Nikki and other ladies in my REFIT class kept telling me that I needed to get certified to instruct. The only problem is, I don't really have a desire to teach a REFIT class. I thought it over for months. I prayed, I spoke with ladies I am close to in my classes. Finally I decided that I wanted to do it. This would be the ultimate in overcoming those pesky insecurities. Now to find the $200 to register for the class. I don't work outside the home and I didn't want to ask my husband for this money so I was selling some items around the house on a resale site and was slowly saving up. On my birthday, I was so surprised and touched when my husband gave me the $200 to attend the instructor training. I signed up immediately.
Once I signed up I knew that it was going to be a big challenge training in front of the creators of this wonderful Revolution. I decided to amp up my work on kicking the insecurities to the curb. Another challenge for myself: Go up onstage at every REFIT class from then until training day. And I did it, too. I was becoming more and more confident being onstage and then... my husband and I went on a month long trip to Colorado. No REFIT for me for at least 1 month. But it would be okay because once we returned home there would be 4 classes to get back into the groove of things before the master class and the training. Great plan, right? Wrong! Several days before we were supposed to come home from Colorado, I woke up and passed out on the floor! Unbeknownst to me, I had developed three stomach ulcers which had been bleeding. My blood pressure dropped very low, and I was out of commission for a couple of weeks.
I got back home and my strength didn't return until right before the master class. That 90 minute master class was my first time back at REFIT in almost 2 months. I could have backed out, but I was determined to do this. I took it easy and about halfway through took a break to sit down for a bit but I made it through, and had a wonderful time and got to meet the founders. It was wonderful!
The next day at the master class I continued to confront the insecurities. I went up on the stage and danced 16 counts of a simple dance step BY MYSELF! In front of the whole room full of around 100 women AND the founders! Click here
to see me slaying insecurities at the REFIT instructor training. I'm the 3rd person to dance. I have on a teal shirt and I run off afterwards straight to Nikki for a well deserved hug. It was terrifying, but freeing at the same time. I was onstage a couple more times throughout the day. The women were very supportive. It was a safe place. It was one of the best experiences if my life. I loved it!
This is me running through the tunnel as all of the others congratulate me on a job well done.
I'm a licensed REFIT instructor!
We were told to partner up and have our partner write two words on our arm. The first word is what we are, or what we want to overcome. The second word is what we are or will be as overcomers.
This is a group shot of all the current and new REFIT instructors from Pensacola, and the REFIT founders.
This was an amazing experience for me. Do I still have insecurities? Yes, but I feel much more confident now than I ever have before. Just this morning at class, I went onstage again. I will continue going onstage until I'm comfortable enough to be up there alone, and probably long after that.
This is an ongoing work for me, and I gladly and expectantly face the challenge. I am becoming the confident woman I've always dreamed of being."