Ron Bookbinder’s husband James Fisher was six months into his membership at 24 Hour Fitness, when Bookbinder decided to tag along. “I saw how much he was enjoying it and how strong he was becoming,” says Bookbinder.

Bookbinder had been cycling for 20 years, and found it helped control his Type II diabetes. The evening the couple went to the gym, Bookbinder says, “We tried a fun class and then a chest press, and an abdominal machine—and I realized I could do this, too!”

He had health and fitness goals, but what Bookbinder realized was that something he thought was for other people was, in fact, something he could do, too. “What made the real difference when I joined was hiring a trainer who could support and instruct me. I wanted to better control my diabetes, develop upper body strength, and build and maintain muscle mass as I got older—none of which I felt I could do on my own.”

Now, Bookbinder and Fisher train with the same fitness coach. They have different goals and find different benefits from their experience, so we asked Bookbinder to tell us more about that “aha” moment and share his insights about trying something new.

24Life: It sounds like your first visit to the gym sparked your interest, but what inspired you to commit and then stick with something new?

Ron Bookbinder: I was surprised to make rapid progress, increasing reps and weight on the many exercises my first trainer patiently taught me. I felt great each time I trained or worked out, and saw how I was becoming stronger every week and regularly achieving new personal records (PRs).

More than three years later, I continue to be motivated by how good I feel physically, emotionally, mentally and even spiritually through my training and workouts. I continue to grow stronger and more confident under the guidance of my current trainer, Kim.

24Life: What’s one thing you’ve learned about yourself during your fitness journey?

RB: I learned that I am physically stronger and tougher than I ever imagined, and that I am capable of challenging myself and achieving my ever higher fitness goals.

I am a smaller person and I never would have thought that I could leg press more than twice my weight or deadlift 30 pounds more than my weight! My arms, and particularly my legs, are lean and muscular now, like never before in my life. I realized that I don’t need to feel intimidated by others who are more muscular or are lifting much heavier weights, because we’re all working toward the same goal of self-improvement.

I also learned that it’s important to support each other in our fitness journeys, sometimes merely by saying hello, giving a compliment or asking a question. I’ve made so many positive connections that way, and it feels like the gym is a diverse and supportive community.

24Life: Any advice for someone who wants to make a change?

RB: First, find a knowledgeable and supportive trainer who can teach and encourage you and help prevent injury as you work to achieve new fitness goals. If you’re trying to change, it’s very helpful to have a guide who has expertise to help you safely and effectively achieve your goals.

Second, set time commitments over at least three months and a schedule, including how many days a week you will try to work out and when. Then, stick to it so you can give yourself the time to work toward the change you want to make.

Third, track your progress, especially your successes, so that you can be aware of and encouraged by how much you are achieving. Fourth, don’t give up if you have a bad day, but keep trying and you will move forward.

Finally, be friendly to other members, trainers and staff at the gym because they will encourage you as you work toward your goal—and it will make your experience more enjoyable.

Results may vary.  Please consult a physician before starting or changing a fitness routine.  Personal training and virtual personal training available to 24 Hour Fitness members for an additional fee.

Photo credit: Ron Bookbinder