A Shape Up NYC Success Story!
When Jessica Brickey relocated to New York City from Cleveland in 2010, she hoped to leave behind an unhealthy lifestyle.
“You’re driving everywhere in your car, you’re stopping at drive-throughs, sometimes more than once a day. We had a lot of white bread,” Jessica described to members of NYC Parks’ Central Recreation team. At 212 pounds, Jessica struggled to find exercise routines she could maintain long-term.
Today, Jessica, 26 and a North Bronx resident, weighs 135 pounds -- and she found her inspiration for healthy living through Shape Up NYC.
In her first months as a New Yorker, Jessica was frustrated that her habits hardly shifted. She struggled with subway stairs, was exhausted at the end of the workday, and found fast food an easy crutch. She joined a local gym, but found the staff and atmosphere unwelcoming.
A clinical social worker trained to help clients with few resources, Jessica found information on Shape Up NYC online and went to her first kickboxing class at Harlem Hospital. She loved instructor Lynze Schiller’s class, even though she initially had trouble finishing.
Schiller, a group fitness instructor and certified personal trainer from Equinox, was there for every step of Jessica’s transformation. “I saw her go from a struggle to an invigoration,” said Lynze. “From her face being bright red at the end to her face having a pink glow from an awesome workout.”
“I kept on going no matter what. The hardest part was when I woke up in the morning,” said Jessica. “Everyday you have to think, today is important, every little step is important.” Jessica got to know the other kickboxing regulars, many who were hospital employees, and found motivation in others’ ongoing commitment to Shape Up. “It’s a Wednesday. You’re trying to get everything done and go home, but Lynze was so motivational.”
Jessica began attending Lynze’s Shape Up classes twice weekly, and immediately saw results. She lost two pounds per week until she hit 180 pounds. When her weight loss leveled, she increased her workouts to seven days per week, with four days of intense cardio.
“She’s just one of the students that week after week everybody could always see her commitment and the change of her body. That becomes very inspiring to other students as well,” said Lynze.
Nutrition played a major role in Jessica’s switch to healthy living. “In New York there are grocery stores with salad bars that are open at 2 a.m., but there’s also a ton of terrible food.” Jessica stopped drinking sugary drinks completely, and cut out alcohol. “If a place wants to kick me out for ordering water, let them!”
Jessica is pursuing a personal training certification so she can help others achieve health in the same way Lynze inspired her. “I focused on, ‘what do I want,’ not what can’t I do,” said Jessica.
“Life is very different for you when you’re overweight.” Jessica said. She mentioned buying new clothes and fitting into airplane seats as perks to her new way of living. “You can never go back to the other way.”
Shape Up NYC is free fitness program run by NYC Parks, in partnership with Equinox, Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield, and NYC Service. Shape Up currently offers more than 160 classes throughout the five boroughs. This fall an additional 40 classes will be added through funding from Mayor Bloomberg’s Obesity Task Force.