In 2011, high-school teacher Colin Gregory suffered a traumatic brain injury and severe spinal injuries in a work-related incident that left him physically, emotionally and spiritually defeated. The long-time 24 Hour Fitness member and yoga teacher says he hid away for years, hoping his injuries would heal on their own. But in 2016, he took his health into his own hands, and started taking yoga classes regularly again.
“After a five-year hiatus, my body was in shambles and was crying out for some desperately needed love and attention,” Gregory recalls. He started taking yoga classes at 24 Hour Fitness with instructor Jan Burgie, “and never looked back,” he says.
“Each class was excruciating painful, but I was relentless and determined to succeed,” Gregory says. Gregory had to relearn to use his entire body, taking every pose and posture day by day. “Things that were so easy for me before my accident were almost impossible,” he says.
Eventually, Gregory felt strong enough and good enough to want to start teaching yoga again. For the last three years, Gregory has been teaching classes at 24 Hour Fitness Broadmoor Sport in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and sharing his healing journey with his yoga students.
“I have been gifted a new sense of purpose, with a transformative story to tell, and a deeper sense of gratitude for each breath and movement that I take,” he says.
One of those students, Jenny Hillbert, stands out to Gregory. Hillbert was a regular in the yoga classes Gregory was taking, and eventually, she started taking his classes when he came back to teaching. A devout group fitness participant, Hillbert takes every class she can—from POP Pilates to BODYPUMP—with a smile on her face, a positive attitude and a warm welcome, Gregory says.
“What impresses me the most about Jenny is her never-give-up spirit,” Gregory says. “Even in dark times in her life, she has continued to be a fighter and be a beacon of light for others. She inspired me when we met, and keeps inspiring me every day I see her.”
Hillbert, who has been a member since 2010, loves the sense of community between the instructors and members at 24 Hour Fitness. “Everyone is so friendly, welcoming and supportive of one another,” says Hillbert.
After losing 75 pounds and keeping the weight off for more than a decade, Hillbert says fitness saved her life.
“As the weight came off, I discovered how good fitness makes me feel,” she says. “I love how that release of endorphins and that adrenaline rush gives me a powerful boost of energy—both mentally and physically.”
Hillbert sums up, “I love that fitness makes me FEEL alive as well as KEEPS me alive.”