Take Pride Tuesday: Keep Showing Up - A Short Story By Karin Venegas

A bit about me: I do fundraising and communications work at a nonprofit organization that was founded by the legendary singer (and Astoria native) Tony Bennett. We run arts education and college-readiness programs for teens and public schools in high-poverty communities. Most of my workdays are spent sitting at a computer, writing. I spend weekends running around with my almost 2 years-old daughter and trying unsuccessfully to expand her vocabulary beyond “Elmo.”


I joined Iron Lion Performance roughly 6 months ago looking to regain my fitness following a couple of years battling pain and discomfort from various injuries (I’ve got a thing with my sacroiliac joint and another thing with my hip). I had been managing my pain with cortisone injections and lots of physical therapy, but I was stuck in a frustrating cycle: Whenever I improved and felt well enough to stop treatments, my pain would return. It was debilitating, and I felt desperate to become a normal, active person again. During my assessment, Chris was confident of his ability to help me, so I quit physical therapy and joined “the den” instead.


I watch other members' workouts with real admiration and was surprised when the coaches wanted to highlight my accomplishments. I'm still learning to master the timing of a swing. My arms bruise from the lightest of kettlebells (that little pink one left me black and blue!). I have no idea what these “alpha challenges” are on the board, and I don’t have a gym nickname. If you see me doing lateral tosses with the medicine ball, you'll find Coach Jason in some far corner of the gym, laughing at me. (Is it possible for someone's coordination to actually get worse with practice? Apparently yes).



So why highlight me? Perhaps because, despite my reluctance, I keep showing up. I’m really proud of that, and I think the coaches are, too.

They know I’d rather be in a Pilates studio than deadlifting a heavy kettlebell, and they know years of pain with unpredictable triggers has left me a very nervous person. I’m always afraid that a new element in my program might re-injure me or that a new weight might be too heavy. But they have helped me face my fears, and with each new program, I grow more confident.



I’m so grateful to the ILP coaches for their care and attention. I was very intimidated, but they all embraced me (Hayley literally embraces me each session, no matter how sweaty). The coaches all believed in me before I could believe in myself, and thanks to their expertise, I’m no longer in any pain.

I’m getting stronger, too. The kettlebell weights have increased. The push-up pins have lowered closer to the ground, and I’m regaining core strength.

Pregnancy and childbirth taught me that women’s bodies are magic. “The den” is teaching me that they can be strong and resilient, too.