Chris Tobias, 28
City Fitness home club: Graduate Hospital
Member since: 2015
The regimen: Thrive twice a week; one hour of cardio (stair-climbing and biking) three times we week.
At 5 a.m. every weekday, Christopher Tobias’s alarm goes off; by 5:30, he’s at the gym. It’s not that he’s a morning person, really. It’s just that he’s learned that 5:30 a.m. is the time when the outside world is least likely to chip away at his resolve.
For Christopher, that outside world can get really intense. He’s a physician assistant who works with underserved communities, as well as a student working toward his second master’s degree—plus he’s an adjunct assistant professor, a dedicated volunteer, a longtime Thrive devotee, and an enthusiastic member of Stonewall Sports, the LGBTQ-allied intermural sports league.
It was amidst this jam-packed schedule that Christopher set—and met—his latest fitness goal: Between January and April of this year, he lost 30 pounds.
“I was on it,” he says. In fact, it was that fitness mission that got him hooked on those morning sweat sessions.
“We all have things we want to do,” he says. “Then there’s always the ‘but.’ Fitness has taught me how to put those excuses aside and take that first step.”
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Here’s how Christopher stays driven:
On deciding — again, and again — not to quit:
I suffer from anxiety. For a time, I was only doing my Thrive, because I was really overwhelmed by a lot of the stuff I was doing outside the gym. I describe it as feeling like I’m holding up a hundred glass plates. They get to feeling heavy, and I don’t want to hold them up anymore. That happens every once in a while, and then I take the time that I need to regroup, figure out that what I’m doing that is important to me, and then I have to reprioritize. You can’t do everything.
The last couple times I’ve felt like this, I was actually going to freeze my Thrive membership for a month. Then I said, “No, that’s not going to be healthy for me. That’s going to do more damage.” I caught myself. You can lower your responsibilities, but you can’t hide from everything. Regular exercise makes me feel better about myself.
“We all have things we want to do. Then there’s always the ‘but.’ Fitness has taught me how to put those excuses aside and take that first step.”
On the perks of strength-training:
I would always look at other men and they had this sort of—not a ripple, but a sort of indentation from the deltoid, the shoulder, into the tricep. I was like, “Yeah, never had that.” More recently? I do have that. It’s fun.
On his proudest fitness moment to date:
I definitely think my greatest accomplishment was when I finished my first half marathon. It was 2014—the Rock ’n’ Roll half. Prior to that, I never thought it was something I would be physically or mentally able to do. I remember crossing that line. You get that little medal, and it was just surreal. Like, “Wow, I just ran 13.1 miles.”
On the word he’d use to describe his workout style:
On finding the right motivation:
So historically, I am a runner. I did track in high school, and cross country in high school and college. I’ve completed four half marathons. Recently, I’ve not been running because I’ve found that I was running less for me, less for the stress relief, and more because I was planning to do another half marathon.
A couple months ago I had a realization: You know what, I don’t have the time or the emotional mental capacity. It just got me way too anxious. I was forcing myself, instead of doing it because that’s what I love to do. I am a runner, but I realized that I should be running for the right reasons.
On the part of his workouts he loves the most:
In Thrive, they do this thing called a Turkish getup. Basically, you’re starting on the ground, and you’re going through lifting motions with a weight while you’re actually getting up to stand. Then you go back down. A lot of times, you’ll only do one on each side because it’s such a powerful move.
On the part of his workouts he hates but does anyway:
I desperately do not like the bike. I don’t know if that’s because I’m a runner, or if it’s because it hits really concentrated muscle groups, so it hurts very quickly. Also, I find that sitting that long on a bike is asking for a wedgie. You’re balancing a lot on that small seat is what I’m saying.
On his nightly wind-down:
I love Judge Judy. She’s always DVR-ing and in the background of whatever I happen to be doing.
On weight, and Weight Watchers:
Unfortunately, last year was really a weight-gaining period for me. I was just doing Thrive two days a week; I wasn’t really doing anything else. In October, I volunteered at a conference for the Pennsylvania Society of Physician Assistants. I wear the same suit every year to that event. I noticed I was hunching over in it, not able to take nice deep breaths. I thought the button was going to pop off and hit people in the eye. When I got on the scale, I thought I was going to be 20, 25 pounds over; it was actually 30. Like most people do, I made a New Year’s resolution to change. I switched from doing Thrive in the afternoons to doing it in the mornings. And I joined Weight Watchers. I’m proud to say I lost the 30 pounds.
When I first went to Weight Watchers, I actually felt discouraged. When I checked in, they asked, “Why are you here?” Just because I have a smaller frame, or I’m a male, or I’m younger, for whatever reason, I’m not the typical attendee. And at first I felt uncomfortable. You don’t want to feel judged. Now, they know who I am, and it’s fine. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter the demographic, we’re all there for the same reason. I think that is what’s important—how we can help each other.
On his favorite cardio booster:
Right now, I’m watching Netflix. Person of Interest. Which is an older show, but it’s juicy.
On what’s next:
I think something that I’m continuing to realize is that, unfortunately, the way we’ve set up fitness and exercise means you have to be at a certain socioeconomic status to be able to participate in certain things. When we realize that our health as a country, as a society, is getting worse and worse, it’s because we’re not really making those things available to people who really need it or people who are trying to make change. Accessibility, I guess. A lot of my patients don’t have money to go to a gym, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need to exercise. So something I’m actually trying to work on — in my spare spare time — is starting a wellness nonprofit to define and promote wellness through seven pillars, one of which is exercise.
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