Athletes are used to pushing themselves to the limits. It takes mental and physical discipline to maintain a competitive level of strength, speed, skill and stamina. But even the toughest athletes may face a challenge they can’t quickly overcome.

That’s what happened to 24 Hour Fitness team member Jennie Holden. After a lifetime of playing soccer and other sports, Holden found herself unexpectedly sidelined in fall 2016 with a tear to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in her left knee.

The ACL helps provide stability for certain knee motions, but for someone who was used to being so active, the injury left Holden feeling off-balance. In addition to the regular physical therapy that was part of her rehabilitation plan, she turned to strength training.

“The biggest motivation for me was to get my knee back in working order,” Holden says. But she soon discovered much more. “I learned so many new things, like boxing as well as deadlifting and squatting more than my body weight!”

Her time in the gym has shown her there’s still more to learn, not just about new approaches to her personal fitness, but about how much her body is capable of doing and how many adventures and accomplishments await her.

24Life: Did your coach encourage you to try something you hadn’t?

Jennie Holden: My current coach, Kenny, certainly did. He has a background in boxing, and our sessions consist of the different combinations. I have never tried anything like that before and I always look for something new, especially after tearing my ACL. Kenny has always pushed me. Even if I am hesitant at first, he always encourages me to try it and see that I can be successful.

24Life: How has your experience changed your view of fitness as a journey, vs. a destination?

JH: I have learned never to give up. I learned to take the small wins, because slow progress is better than no progress at all. I also learned that I needed to stop fighting the old and continue to build on the new.

I wanted some sense of normalcy knowing my left knee would never be 100 percent. After the injury, surgery and rehab, I got into weightlifting. When I saw the effects of my training, it made me much more confident and stronger all around. It also inspired me to compete in a bodybuilding competition in 2018, just 18 months after my ACL reconstruction surgery.

24Life: Anything else that you’re doing to maintain your results and sustain your journey?

JH: I work out regularly, sometimes on my own as well as twice a week with Kenny, all done in club. At home, I focus on self-care as well. Mental health is just as significant if not more important than physical health.

24Life: Now that you’re farther along on your path, what advice would you give yourself if you could go back in time?

JH: Stay patient. Your fitness journey is no sprint, it is a marathon. The small accomplishments will turn into major milestones down the road.

Results not typical and may vary per individual. With a regular diet and exercise routine, typical weight loss is 1-2 pounds per week. 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: Jennie Holden