From Fearful to Fearless: My Fitness Journey by Corey Bates

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Corey Bates is a Residence Life Coordinator for Housing and Residential Education at the University of South Florida. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Media Studies from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey and his Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction (emphasis in College Student Affairs) from the University of South Florida. He enjoys swimming, cycling and strength training, as EDM (Electronic Dance Music) keeps him motivated throughout his workouts. On his rest days, Corey enjoys a good beach day, reading a book and listening to the sounds of the gulf breeze.


From Fearful to Fearless: My Fitness Journey

Staying motivated to maintain fitness did not always come easy. Growing up, I was not athletically gifted. Those skills skipped me and went straight to my younger brother J In the process, I stayed away from anything focused on exercise, unless I had to do it to pass a class. I tried to overcome my fears while I was in high school, through lackluster efforts on the Track and Tennis teams. Once I got to college, I knew that I liked to be physically active. Slowly but surely, I started to let go of this ideal of needing to be an elite athlete and work out for pure enjoyment.

As my attitude changed about fitness, it motivated me to try different workouts. I took risks in the weight room, took various dance classes and even had regular sessions on the elliptical. However, I was still struggling with feeling the need to show people my athletic prowess with anything physical that I did. During my junior year of college, I allowed my insecurities to motivate me in the gym, wanting to be bigger based on what I saw on the media.  I remember taking a creatine supplement to enlarge my muscles, coupling it with intense strength training exercises with a friend. I saw physical results that I never thought I could get. Once I stopped taking creatine, my body deflated like a balloon.

Once I finished college and started to pursue graduate school, I experienced a health scare early on that stemmed from the creatine use. The experience changed my outlook on fitness and life for the best. At that point, my motivation for workout out was about staying healthy and being able to stay alive and well for a long time. During that time, I had a workout partner who was with me every step of the way, challenging me to hit that extra repetition in the weight room, increase the pace during a long-distance run, take a chance doing a flip turn during a swim workout and holding a friendly competition of the most calories burned during a power cycling class. In addition to my own reasons for getting up and completing a workout, knowing that he would be there ready to work motivated me to be there.

Now anyone can find me in the gym six days a week before the sun rises, sans my workout partner L. Five of those days are spent doing strength training with two of those days being coupled with a cycling class or swim workout, while the sixth day is an additional swim workout. Having a regularly scheduled fitness routine has helped me maintain better self-care, and it has given me an outlet to leave any problems that arise wherever they were created. Knowing that I have hit my stride in fitness, I wanted to challenge myself once again, overcoming another fear- teaching a fitness class. The beginning steps to taking that route have begun. The best way to explain my experience thus far in that journey would be through a simple phrase of “baptism by fire.”

My fitness journey has had its share of challenges and triumphs. Motivation for maintaining my fitness looked different throughout the process. As my priorities and expectations with it became more genuine and realistic, it allowed for a new found confidence to develop. Hopefully, I will be able to be that workout partner, like the one I had, for someone else one day, pushing them to their physical potential and showing them that do not need to be born with natural athletic ability to have a strong fitness life.


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