Christina Hartranft knows how it feels to face a rack of free weights or the GX studio door and wonder if it’s safe to just … go for it. As a teenager, she took up running as a stress release after her dad passed away from a heart condition. He modeled good habits for his kids, as he enjoyed cycling, and Hartranft knew that the choices she made about diet and exercise would impact not only her appearance but also her health.

Then Hartranft’s brother started lifting weights and she saw his body change, so she decided to join a gym—her local 24 Hour Fitness. Her brother’s girlfriend taught her what she knew about weight training, and Hartranft picked up knowledge from magazines (as well as her future husband).

But it took a buddy to get Hartranft to walk into a group weightlifting class, where she found her experience with strength training served her well. She was hooked. She even accepted—but didn’t take seriously—an invitation to get certified as a group fitness instructor. “I had this block about the microphone and what people were going to think of me,” she explains.

Fortunately for 24 Hour Fitness members, Hartranft took the leap. She teaches Les Mills formats including BODYPUMP, BODY COMBAT, CXWORX and GRIT, and she’s also featured in the current 24 Hour Fitness “Worth It” advertising campaign on TV, billboards and online. 24Life caught up with her on the set of the ad campaign shoot and asked her our burning questions about getting the courage to try something new, and more.

24Life: Was it intimidating to start lifting weights?

Christina Hartranft: I was terrified because I had to go where all the big, buff guys were working out. But I was curious about it and I knew that I wanted to do it. It took me a long time to [get the courage to] go from the machines to free weights, but I got there.

24Life: What was the appeal of group fitness?

CH: I remember I would go with my friend and I was scared. I got pregnant shortly after I started going. I researched how far into my pregnancy I could work out, and that worked for me. Then I got into cycle because the cycle class was right after the group weightlifting class.

[Group fitness] became convenient because class was right after work, and that’s how I got my workout in. I remember the general manager told me and my brother that BODYPUMP was launching, and asked us to try it. At the time, I thought, “This is the best class ever! I want to teach this class!”

24Life: Is that what led you to get certified to teach it?

CH: One of the trainers said I should. But instructors [were assessed] during each release to check form and all that. So I said “OK,” and then I just never did it. I was always scared to try new things anyway. When my friend said, “You’re going to training,” I finally did. It took me five years to get to it.

24Life: So you finally did it! What’s it like now, to teach?

CH: I love it. A different side of me has come out. You know how you imagine the person you are on the inside and you want it to come out, but you’re scared to let it out? Well, that person comes out when I start to teach. I can be myself in front of 30 to 50 people.

24Life: So what would you go back and say to the Christina who’s hanging by the group fitness studio door?

CH: Everyone is there doing the same thing you are for one hour and everybody is scared. Everyone is just as intimidated as you are, and you can get past it. Once you get past it, you’re family.

24Life: Any words of wisdom for those of us who are having second thoughts about our fitness resolutions?

CH: It’s never too late. There’s always a first time and there’s always a do-over. Everyone has a time where they can come back and try again. It’s up to you to make the commitment, but you should never be afraid to come back and try again.

Photo credit: Tom Casey,