Gayle Mammay’s photo album is filled with great pictures. Yet, through pages and pages of family gatherings, her children’s school and sporting events, and the countless other wonderful memories and milestones that make up her life, something is missing. Mainly, Gayle herself. “I look at old photos and I am always hiding in the back,” explains Gayle. “When you gain weight and get bigger and bigger and bigger, you go to the back during photo time.”
Coming off of a back surgery in 2010, Gayle weighed in at 235 lbs., the heaviest she had ever been. She was nearing her 50th birthday, was not an athlete even in her younger days, and had never seriously engaged in an exercise routine of any kind let alone belong to a fitness club. But she knew that she had to make a change, and asked herself: “If not now, then when? I had a very sedentary lifestyle. You start losing weight, but then life happens. It’s hard sometimes.”
Then one day at the recommendation of friends, she gave Club Julian a try. What initially appealed to Gayle about CJ was the free personal training. She began regular sessions with Trainer George using “NO EXCUSES” as her personal fitness mantra. She focused her sessions on maintaining strength while losing weight. “I noticed that when I mixed in strength training with my cardio, I was getting better weight loss results,” explains Gayle.
In 2014, about a year into her membership, Gayle started to get a little “braver” and wanted to branch out and try different things at CJ. She took a few group fitness classes like Pilates and Yoga, which she felt would be good for her back. But, according to Gayle, what really got her going in group fitness was the introduction of the “Sweat 16 Group Fitness Challenge” during the 2014 March Anniversary Month at Club Julian. “That really kick started me going to new classes and getting over my fear.” In fact, she did ALL 16 of the classes on the “Sweat 16” list! “I LOVED it!” she says. “And I met a lot of new people. It showed me that I could try new things and feel comfortable doing them.”
Little by little, Gayle’s “inner athlete” was beginning to emerge and the person hiding in the back of every family photo started feeling more comfortable front and center. Gayle gradually dropped a total of 80 lbs. since hitting her peak weight of 235 in 2010 through a dedicated approach to not only exercise but also clean eating and diet management. “I feel fabulous!” she reports.
But who would have guessed that very soon, Gayle would be destined for photo ops at the finish lines of some of Pittsburgh’s best long distance races?
Gayle started running at age 51 with an impromptu 5-mile Thanksgiving Turkey Trot with friends from her neighborhood. And in the glow of the post-Trot celebration, Gayle and friends logically deduced that the next step in their running progression was signing up for the Pittsburgh Half Marathon! “I got up and looked at my email the next day and said, ‘My gosh, what have I done?” Although some of her compadres predictably backed out, Gayle decided to honor the commitment and embarked on a six-month training program. She started walking the indoor track at CJ where she quickly found support and camaraderie from other members. “I felt like Forrest Gump. I was walking there around the track and meeting all these new people! The people at Club Julian were so encouraging.”
Gayle eventually worked her way up to 4 hours of walking. She then started to incorporate intervals of running. “I was the person who always hated running. Or at least I thought I did,” says Gayle. She teamed up with Jen Pearson and Chelsea McNeal at CJ for the 2017 Pittsburgh Half Marathon in May. “It was the best thing I ever did.” Gayle initially thought that the half marathon experience would be a “one and done” thing. She was wrong. “I crossed that finished line, looked at my husband and said ‘I am hooked!'” Gayle finished with a time of 2 hours and 53 minutes, not bad for her first race of any kind!
What’s next? Reaching new heights in fitness has not only dramatically changed Gayle’s outward appearance, it more importantly has changed her overall perspective on life. “I was always the person watching from the sideline, wondering what it would be like to do some of things that other people were doing. Now, it’s my turn!”
Inspired by Gayle’s journey? Then try Club Julian personal training for yourself! It is FREE with your membership. And here is another freebie – a FREE 7-day pass to get you going today!