Jessica Martin

Four years ago this summer I was at a complete breaking point in my life. I had recently gone through major surgery to remove a tumor from my inner ear and bid my husband goodbye as he was deploying to Iraq for an 18 month-long tour of duty. I was alone. We were relatively new to RI when Jeff received his orders and my world seemed to be spinning out of control. I needed a quick pick me up and had heard the term kettlebells thrown around frequently on social media and decided to see if there was a place nearby that I could check out. I literally Googled "kettlebells" and found that there was a fitness studio practically down the street from my home and I made an appointment with Kerry. 

 When I pulled into the lot 5 minutes before I was supposed to meet with him, I froze. I could walk in and talk to this Kerry person and use my surgery as an excuse - surely they'll tell me to come back later. I walked in. Kerry and I took a long walk and he asked me what was up - "what's your story?" Well, I told him EVERYTHING and I cried, not a pretty cry and not even an ugly cry...a disgusting, snotty, sweaty, cry like you mean it cry. Kerry told me that he got it. What?! He followed with stories of overcoming diversity, loss, and fear - all stories of current gym members. I joined. The best thing I've done. Knowing that he believed that I could do it, I took that first step and never looked back. I was sore the very next day after I was handed a kettlebell to hold for a second. I threw up after the first 2 classes (yes, yes, I did!) and I came back. When I see blank faced, mesmerized new members, I quickly go back to that place and get really excited for them...they're changing too.

At 212 I've met and continue to meet people who have become life long friends and can honestly say that this organization has completely changed my life. The family and experiences I've gained and the people I've met have rewritten my path. The 212 staff want to know every member, I am not a number - some days I'll walk in and Heather knows how my day was by glance and I love that. In the last 4 years, Sean "visits" me at work monthly to work out with my entire company, something everyone looks forward to and I get to bring a little of my real life into work.

I throw my emotions into my workout and every day that I walk out of the gym, I feel better. Just this summer I was encouraged to be a competitor in 212's Strength Fest. I chose to throw myself into Colin's (awesome) training program and train with 4 of the strongest women I know. The competition was pretty intimidating and totally exhausting but we all got through it and I had a blast. I had no idea that I would walk away with first prize, which was indescribably amazing, but to walk away with new friends and a new found love for weight lifting - who knew!

When Kerry asked me to write this feature I had a few key things that I wanted to put into this piece, but it was only the day after that I realized what I really got out of my experiences in the past 4 years: Sean approached me during class and expressed that it was a proud moment when he saw my husband and my father at the Strength Fest cheering me on. The best part? The whole 212 staff acknowledging that they knew I could do it.