On the surface my path to Figures was a fairly straightforward one. I had been taking Zumba classes twice a week with “our” Wanda at TCC for several years and wanted the option of going more than the two times a week that TCC offered. I knew Wanda taught at Figures and I decided to join in order to do more Zumba. However, like most people, my life is not that simple and there were many forces at work in my life propelling me into new territories.

The less straightforward version of my story was that I was in the process of rebuilding my life from ground zero after some terrible losses. Four years ago I quit my job to take care of my two elderly parents; my father had end stage Parkinson’s disease and my mother could no longer manage her insulin dependent diabetes. A year after quitting my job, my husband of then 33 years committed spousal abandonment, moving to the east coast to be with his (unbeknownst to me) affair partner of 6 weeks. To say I was devastated is an understatement; my self esteem took a total hit. I felt discarded and completely broken and I thought my life was over. By the grace of God, I slowly moved forward taking baby steps in piecing my life back together. Aside from God and my grown children, one constant in my life was Zumba; the physical activity, movement, and music enabled me to release so much stress and anxiety. I told myself that if I can learn Zumba, I could challenge myself to do other things. Zumba gave me the courage to do something I hadn’t done in 36 years since college, and that was rowing. In college I loved rowing, it was the only team sport I had ever participated in. The feeling of being out on the water in a sleek racing shell with my teammates, pushing our bodies to the limit was so exhilarating. A year after my husband disappeared, I decided to start rowing again. Rowing is a physically demanding sport and I wasn’t in the best physical condition, but thanks to Zumba, I wasn’t a couch potato either. Upon joining Figures I quickly realized that I wanted to explore some of the amazing group classes, I couldn’t believe the variety offered. I also realized that the caliber of instructors are top notch, just like Wanda, I have found the other instructors to be encouraging, knowledgeable and patient. At Figures, I realized that I could improve my strength and flexibility to become a stronger and faster rower. Figures is a safe environment; I love being in a community of women of all shapes, sizes, ages and backgrounds. I felt safe coming here as someone with very limited experience in “working out”; I was grateful that the atmosphere at Figures wasn’t intimidating.

I have to say that one of the most fantastic features here at Figures is the small group classes. I have taken the small group weight lifting classes with Maria and the small group yoga classes with Heather. I can’t say enough about their level of instruction, expertise, and encouragement. I have gotten stronger and more flexible and can see the changes in my body. I have also discovered that the women who come to Figures are kindred spirits. The women I have met in classes have been wonderful and encouraging. Each of us has a story of strength and overcoming adversity. Interwoven in my story is realizing that being physically strong has helped my emotional and mental attitude. When we are experiencing acute stress- moving our bodies, sweating, and breathing deeply temporarily takes our minds off of negative thinking, improves sleep and releases anxiety. I have found my tribe at Figures.