Wednesday, November 26, 2014


I can type way faster than John Ford.
This makes sense, because he can lift, press, row, bike and Burpee circles around me.
In other words, we both love what we do for work - and therefore we do it well.
As those who follow me on social media know, I’ve been spending three mornings a week getting my butt kicked in an effort to be stronger.  (And, yes, to look better naked.)  I’ve been learning more new exercises than my brain seems able to hang onto.  I’ve been trying like heck to overcome fears inspired by my general clumsiness and lack of balance.  I’ve celebrated small victories - like jumping and landing both feet on a box simultaneously.  (It’s tougher than it sounds, yet there are folks braving boxes three times the height of the one to which I’ve barely graduated.)  And don’t get me started on “Bunnies” - pure evil right there, giving an exercise requiring so much strength, coordination and memory a cute, fluffy name.
Welcome to the world of Manic Training.
John Ford graduated from URI with a degree in physical fitness and wellness, but as so often happens in life, the career opportunities that came his way were not in his field.  He worked in the restaurant business and various sales jobs, then - as so often also happens - the stars aligned and things fell into place.  John earned his personal training certification around the same time Dave Barnes was working to open the first Rhode Island Manic Training location in Wakefield.  After taking his first class at Manic, John knew this was “it” for him.  He taught for free for months, waiting tables to help support his family, and ultimately he bought the Wakefield franchise.
As his wife Nicole says, “I have never seen John happier - this is truly a matter of someone finding the career that is a perfect fit.”
I’d have to agree.
I’d also have to admit I was slow to give Manic a try.  I mean, I’m a self-employed single mother.  “Manic” is a word that could be used to describe my daily routine.  If anything, I was looking for something entitled, “Chill” or “Zen.”  So while friends joined Manic, loved it, and urged me to give it a whirl, I went about my usual routine: running, swimming, biking, SUP boarding and taking yoga.  I mean, how was I supposed to find time for one more thing anyway, right?
Then one of my good friends was battling cancer and fighting to keep her local business going.  John Ford donated two 6-month Manic Training memberships to the auction held to help defray her medical bills.
“We’ve been saying we should try this,” another friend and partner-in-crime (a/k/a The P.I.C.) said at the auction.  “This is a win-win.  We try Manic, and the money goes to a good cause.”
The P.I.C. and I were the winning bidders.
Barely six weeks ago, we went to our first Manic class.
And now we’re hooked.
It’s not just the fun, supportive atmosphere John fosters for people of all ages and abilities.  The variety and complexity of the workouts makes it the fastest, most challenging hour imaginable.
And then there’s the results.
Here’s what’s happened to me since starting Manic Training that short time ago:
  • I’ve lost four or five pounds, depending on which scale you believe.  And I think we all know which scale I will choose to believe.
  • My butt, which I’d previously accepted as a typical flat WASP-girl rear end beyond aesthetic help, seems to be gaining definition.  It won’t break the Internet any time soon, but I’m OK with that.  Because there are only so many occasions where a girl needs to balance a champagne glass - or Kanye West’s hand - on her ass.
  • I’m faster when running.  And by ‘faster,’ I mean tortoises and old folks are no longer leaving me in the dust.  Still: improvement of nearly a minute per mile?  In the space of little more than a month?  Hell, yeah.  This is me now:
Best of all?
Manic Training really is all about community.  It’s a family endeavor for John and Nicole, and they envision it continuing to grow in a positive, healthy way, as it supports more and more people on their road to fitness.  They are in the process of implementing a program for youth, so it can really be fitness for the whole family, and Nicole - a nutritionist, yoga instructor, and avid athlete in her own right - is using her skills to help round out Manic’s offerings.  
So stick with me, and I’ll keep you updated as I try to work past my two left feet and that ironic nickname, Grace.  Just don’t expect me to be able to do a perfect Bunny any time soon.

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