Member Spotlight: Emily Duncan

emily duncan quandryAHWC member, Emily Duncan, shares her fitness journey.

“I joined the Anschutz Health and Wellness Center in August of 2016, the same time I started my Ph.D. training on campus. Let me tell you why it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made!

My fitness routine prior to joining AHWC can be summarized as such: I was a gym wanderer, I didn’t have set goals, I was in mediocre shape, and I was fine being comfortable. I knew physical fitness was important and I knew anything was better than nothing, but I was never excited to workout and it became increasingly hard to motivate myself. My routine was turned upside down (in a good way) when I joined the world of group exercise at AHWC.

During the fall of 2016, I met some great friends who convinced me to go to my first ever group ex class, Step Aerobics, led by the one and only Candice Baumgardner. I remember leaving class feeling better than when I walked in and…being excited to go back?! This same group of friends encouraged me to join them on Thursday evenings for Kat Kumlin’s Strength Endurance class. This was my first experience using weights in a group class, and I loved the combination of strength and cardio. I quickly became more comfortable stepping into the group ex studio. Even when my friends were busy, I still made it to class. I was experiencing this crazy thing called results, but above all, I was having so much fun and I was looking forward to class regularly.

I finally decided I would be brave and try out some of the other group ex classes by myself—starting with BODYPUMP express on Tuesday evenings (with Nicole Franco at the time, then MaryLauren Agee, and now Trevor Cassidy). For those that don’t know, BODYPUMP is the original barbell class that focuses on low weight, high repetition. This is where my love for group ex really took off. People that know me know that I’m a big music fanatic, and the idea of working out to the beat of the music with choreography, all while getting fit was something that blew my mind. This is where I belonged! I started inviting anyone and everyone to come to BODYPUMP express with me. “You can do anything for 30 min” is what I would tell my friends. These same friends are the ones I go to BODYPUMP with three times a week now.

BODYPUMP, Barre, Cardio HIIT, RPM, Yoga, CXWORX, Zumba, Pound—you name it, I’ve tried it. One of the things I love most about the group ex community at AHWC, no matter what class you go to, is that it is a no-judgment zone. All different shapes, sizes, ages, and fitness levels—everyone is there to have fun and get stronger. I try to incorporate many of these classes into my routine every week, in addition to my other hobbies like hiking, rock climbing, and playing soccer. This type of “cross-training” keeps me fit, keeps me motivated, and keeps me coming back. All of these classes and instructors have also given me the tools to be able to design my own workouts. I’m no longer a gym wanderer!

But the group ex class that has stolen my heart forever is BODYCOMBAT—a high-energy martial arts-inspired workout. I first started going to BODYCOMBAT on Wednesday nights with Amanda Ranard. I’ll be honest, it took me several times to really get into it (remember this anytime you try out a new class!). But the combination of incredible instructors (looking at you Candice and MaryLauren), amazing music, and energy-packed martial arts movements left me feeling fierce and empowered after every class. Again, I started inviting anyone and everyone to join me. My love for BODYCOMBAT, a passion for other people to experience the benefits of group exercise, and an encouraging push from current instructors ultimately led to my recent decision to become a BODYCOMBAT instructor! Never in a million years did I think I was fit enough, fast enough, or strong enough to be an exercise instructor. All I can say is put yourself around the right people, challenge yourself, get uncomfortable, and find what makes you happy—you are capable of anything!

Some might call me a group ex junkie, and I won’t deny it. I’m stronger than I’ve ever been, physically and mentally and I owe it all to the wonderful community at AHWC. And I’m not done! I’m still pushing towards a healthier lifestyle every day. Thanks to all the incredible instructors and members who have challenged me every day, every week, every month for the past few years. I’m excited to keep getting better and keep building community with such great people!”

Anschutz Health and Wellness Center