The desire to make new friends was not why Melissa Lemsky decided to become a member of the Anytime Fitness gym in Hudson, WI a few years ago.
“Other children would make rude comments about me to my children,” Melissa said. “This did not bother me. What bothered me was that my children felt they needed to defend me from the way I looked. My children love me no matter what I look like.”
Her first few days at the gym Melissa exercised by herself, but quickly realized she could benefit from the help of a personal trainer.
“Deciding to work with a personal trainer was the best decision I ever made,” Melissa said. “I have lost 40 pounds and 18 inches since beginning my journey and a new way of life. I enjoy spending more time with family and friends. Also, knowing I am setting a better example for my own children.”
In June of 2017, Melissa met Ashley Hemann, another member of the gym who worked with the same personal trainer. Despite the 20-year difference in their ages, Melissa and Ashley discovered they had a lot in common.
“Our trainer urged us to work out together, without him, occasionally,” Melissa said. “He saw in each of us the drive we had to improve ourselves. We continued to talk, workout and build on our friendship.”
“Melissa is always pushing herself,” Ashley said. “She pushes me to do my best and when I have a bad day she is right there to keep me going. She has a passion to make sure everyone is included.”
Like Melissa, Ashley’s health has improved dramatically since she joined the gym.
“In just 20 months, I’ve lost 75 pounds and almost 40 inches,” Ashley said. “When I started I could barely walk up the stairs without being out of breath. I was making poor food choices, which impacted how I felt about myself and being around others. I was also borderline diabetic and my blood pressure was high.”
The “new Ashley” is a completely different person.
“I ran my first Rugged Maniac race last fall,” she said. “My eating habits are under control, I no longer have any medical concerns and I’m stronger than I’ve ever been. I also gained a ton of self-confidence and friends that have become family to me.”
Melissa and Ashley actually enjoy themselves at the gym so much that they invited other members to join in the fun.
“On Saturday and Sunday mornings at 6:30 we have some others that join us to do a small group workout,” Melissa said. “Ashley creates the Saturday workout and I create the Sunday workout. We invite others to do it with us. Slacking is NOT an option for us.”
They’ve become such good friends, in fact, that they often get together outside the gym.
“Melissa and I have a special bond,” said Ashley. “She is 44 and I’m 24. She has kids and I don’t. She is a teacher and I’m a banker. Different lives but a common goal of fitness and eating healthy. We have started something special at Anytime Fitness. We have built a little family. This family is not just about meeting at the gym; it’s also about getting together for multiple celebrations and good times together.”
“I treasure the friendship that I’ve created with Ashley at the gym and outside of the gym,” said Melissa. “She is a good listener, motivator, friend and workout buddy. She would do anything for anybody. She has a true heart of gold.”
As for others who might be hesitant to join a gym community, Melissa says the improvements in her quality of life far exceeded her expectations.
“Going to a gym may be scary but you need to be willing to take that first step for a better and happier life for yourself,” Melissa said. “Do not let your fears get in your way and slow you down. You may even find an amazing friendship if you’re open to it. It does not matter what age you are. Being a member of Anytime Fitness has given me more self-confidence and energy. It has also helped me create new friendships that I would not have found otherwise – and it’s given me back the life I did not think I would have again.”
IF NOT NOW, THEN WHEN?