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Awesome Story of Survival!

Awesome Story of Survival!

Martha Hicks Leta

So, you’ve done a few adventure races in the past year? You’ve slogged up muddy mountainsides and crawled under barbed wire through filthy water. You’ve jumped into a dumpster filled with ice, run through a gauntlet of fire, been electrocuted by a curtain of dangling wires and lived to tell about it. Or maybe you’ve run a few marathons in blistering heat, or competed in a triathlon? Think you’re pretty tough, right?

Meet Emily Shames, 19, client at Fitness Together in Newton Centre. When she’s not busy with her studies and at Wesleyan University, she’s a key member of the school’s winning volleyball and softball teams. Not tough enough for you? Here’s what Emily did with her summer vacation: While you and I were barbecuing chicken and sipping cold Corona’s Emily spent a total of 42 days surviving in the wilderness of Utah. Still not impressed? She did it with only a rain poncho, a water bottle, a knife and a sweater. That’s it. No backpack, no tent, no mess kit, not even a wristwatch. Forty-two days in full-out survival mode, seven days of which were in complete solitude and another seven with no food at all, just water. That’s one tough young lady, my friends.

Emily says it was her training at Fitness Together that got her to the point where she could even consider facing such a daunting set of challenges. “The trainers at Fitness Together got me into the best shape of my life. The motivation and the determination I learned from them echoed in my thoughts during the entire trip, encouraging me never to give up no matter how tired or broken down I got.”

A longtime outdoor enthusiast, Emily signed on for the Boulder Outdoor Survival School, (BOSS) in Boulder Town, Utah with the goal of melding her interests in fitness with her studies in environmental science and archeology. Known for being “the toughest survival school in the country,” BOSS prides itself in teaching participants “low-technology camping and hiking techniques, exploring how traditional cultures lived comfortably without all the modern gadgets.” During the course students spend their waking hours eking out an existence and hiking long distances, from 15 to 30 miles per day over rugged mountains and desert canyons. And the company makes no bones about it, this is not a frivilous venture. Participants can expect to lose between 10 and 30 lbs. from the taxing physical demands and lack of food.

“It was the most intense hiking I have ever done,” says Shames. “We didn’t have camp to set up or food to cook so we hiked off trail from sunrise to sunset everyday. In 6 weeks, I covered over 300 miles! I can now make fire using nothing but sticks and friction. I can make rope out of plant fiber. I can make 3 different types of traps and know how to catch fish with my bare hands.”

This is “Survivor” without the cameras, safety nets or food reward challenges. Here the only reward is personal growth and satisfaction. “In six weeks I learned more about myself and the world around me than in all 19 years of my life. It was an incredible experience that I will never forget.”

Trainers Elisa Sutherland and Derik VanDyke have seen a lot of success stories in their combined years as personal trainers at Fitness Together, but Emily is one of the greats.

“Emily has a rare enthusiasm for exercise. She comes to each workout with a brilliant smile and even when she’s soaked in sweat and exhausted, the smile doesn’t disappear,” says Sutherland. “I look forward to every session with her. She inspires me to workout a little harder and to have a blast at everything I do!”

VanDyke agrees. “No matter how hard or crazy I may make a workout, Emily is always so excited to learn and do anything I throw her way! This type of true enthusiasm and passion for working out really motivates me as a trainer, as well as a person!”

Whether your goals are to fit into that skinny pair of jeans or move personal mountains, the Fitness Together program clearly offers life-changing potential for those who are willing to commit the effort. Just ask Emily.

“Fitness Together has changed my life for the better. They have transformed me not only physically but mentally, too,” says Shames. “I want to say thanks to all of the Fitness Together trainers for all of their dedication to the clients and doing the impossible by making workout out and maintaining a healthy lifestyle fun!”

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