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by Allison Tamagna

I walked into ECC anxious to dive in head first and anxious about what I was signing myself up for. I had spent the past 8 months running daily and dieting, losing 55 lbs. I felt great, but knew that I wanted more out of myself. I’m a person of extremes. I either go all in with something, or not at all. Previous to my weight loss journey I treated my body like shit. I was eating terribly and lying in bed all day. As a kid, sports were my life, and I spent most of my time either practicing baseball, swimming, soccer, tennis, and volleyball…the list goes on. Being active was my escape from what was going on at home. I unfortunately lost my love for sports when I went off the deep end. At 12, I began to show symptoms of PTSD. All different diagnoses and medications were thrown my way as I jumped between hospitalizations and day programs through high school. I gave up on my life, and let myself turn into a ball of anxiety, isolation and severe depression, gaining a lot of weight in the process.

Running daily felt boring and more like a chore. I was doing it purely to shed fat and not for health or therapeutic reasons. When I walked into ECC and saw all the insane shit these people were doing – throwing heavy weighted barbells over their heads and doing hand stand push ups – I felt a spark inside of me. I quickly fell in love with training. Maybe a little obsessed at first. It was like falling in love and going through the honeymoon stage. My body began to change, but more importantly, my mental state was changing. Training became my way to meditate. As you can guess, meditation and relaxation is a seemingly impossible task for a person who is constantly living on high alert. The definition of meditation is to be truly in the now. Every time I enter ECC, I let go of everything for an hour (or more), and only focus on working my hardest and being a better me – in the present moment.

After 7 months at ECC, I had to make the decision to move back to New York. This meant finding a new “box”. As I tried out multiple boxes in my area, I realized more and more how truly special ECC is. Coach Joe went above and beyond to ensure my success. I came in not even being able to do a proper squat (though I had a nice rack), and he still believed in my potential. He understood what it meant to be a former fatass and could recognize true dedication and hard work. I was a graffiti artist for some time, so Joe even asked me to paint murals on the inside and outside of the gym, as well as create t-shirt designs for ECC. Not only did he create an incredibly comfortable space to train hard in, he created a place for me to freely express myself in.

Even though Joe leads the “premiere-coaching event of the week”, he wasn’t the only contributing factor to what makes ECC so special. All the other coaches have always been incredibly caring and extremely helpful – observing and correcting my form as much as possible and even staying longer than they needed to so that they could work with me one on one with things I needed extra help with. The community there has also been amazingly supportive and welcoming.  Even though I’ve still got a long way to go, I’ve come so much farther than I ever thought I would.  My anxiety has tremendously decreased within the past few months and I greatly thank ECC for that. I’ve found myself as an athlete again as well as an incredible family within ECC and that truly means the world to me. You’ve all made such a positive impact on my life that I will carry with me forever.

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