Matt Thompson

Fitness instructor personal trainor boxing, mostly women

I’ve never considered myself an athlete

Violin at early age, always considered myself musician, birthday party guy played cello, UW, student communit, I’m 43, people found me a violin got free lessons, moved to Indianapolis more sports town, dropped music, social consequence to carrying a violin, an amazing intervention teacher when I was 15 gave me a bass, I heard story, fallow 10-15 learn to play over the summer, jazz gigs, became a working musician almost immediately, my day job is my music my fun job is the Y, I toured jazz or rock electric or upright, always have made a living

Lifestyle: alcohol, late nights, not real healthy, eating late nights cigs drinking, mid twenties, fostered all bad habits, wellness had not become a part of me, no idea I was an athlete, resulted in weight gain downward spiral the more weight the less you feel like being active, late 20s early 30s 250 lbs metabolism changes, wife and I joined ymca logan square, did treadmill, moved irving park and first daughter, mighty blue kings tour ended swing blues band, had first child, plan was to be stay at home dad dramatic gear shift wife English teacher lane tech hs, got home from tour she handed me the baby, maternity leave ended, 8/31/70, I can look back now good,

Ymca’s have child care, an amazing oasis for me was to come I needed an hour, this child they are amazing but they are draini ng (3), a week before riding on a skateboard with a beer in my hand and dramatic gear shift, I was a 30 yr old teenager, the y was my oasis and there I made friends, it wasn’t about the fitness for me it was about the community it became very apparent to me it wasn’t a healthy club as I was making my progress I was starting to lose a little bit of weight getting a little stronger getting encouragement, slow progress, in Chicago can be anonymous started to learn names daughter made friends got to know other stay at home dads I became like a religion to me, came 6 days a week and exercises (Ignatius—spiritual exercises, mind body spirit) what happened to me is that I started to gain a little self confidence I lost weight realized I was stronger, started to set goals, began running, ran 7 marathons, never run before, best thing ever happened to me but when in the trenches the only really ally I had was in the halls of the ymca, don’t have family here now I’ve increased my fitness goals, the discipline of fitness is very similar to the discipline of music, we moved to op and stepped foot into the op y didn’t really like it, maybe should go to a bally’s, it was small enough that there was no anononymity, the irving park y big enough, hard for me they see what you’re doing here, now that’s one of the reasons I love it so much, I can see someone in the hallway I met a single father and I could see in the look in his eyes, carrying dumbbells up stairs, bumped into this guy, he says where are you going, he helped me carry, now he’s one of the top trainors here, ex army ranger, no experience in training, got certified, same situation I was in, you can see it when you’ve been there, I was just a member, fitness instructor said we’re doing in a class try, jump rope class, years ago still friends, 3 yrs later have you thought to get certified, no she saw something in me, took test but very intimidated, enough force drawing me in, can’t answer what was the force, I definitrely believe the three words body spirit mind and I think about them all the time, I definitely have a spiritual connection there’s some sort of order that just kind of happens, I think that sometimes people fight into because it can be uncomfortable I don’t know what it is don’t know how far go with it but know I was drawn in (not jan’s values), not a health club, it is so not a health club, the difference, I went from 250 lbs and bad lifestyle eating drinking smoking whatever to being in the best shape of my life frank Lloyd wright 5k I ran it in 19:40, I couldn’t have done that at any other time in my life, experiencing what our minds and bodies are capable of if we get out of our own way, I preach that daily I walk the walk and talk the talk, I drive and try to dry people, I’m working with people all across the spectrum, I’m working with a guy who’s 65 and retired he is amazing, 70s these are my heroes, in 20s female boxer made it to semis of golden gloves, I get to be with these people, I feel lucky that someone convinced me that my body was capable of more and someone helped facilitate me pushing myself, I’ve been to health clubs and there’s anonymity where getting more and more detached, it’s safer when detached, if you’re accountable it’s a lot harder, if you skip a week of workouts people ask about it we’re not nosey but we’ll have members who ask where’s so and so, it’s a community where everyone is working on their own stuff trying to break barriers or just trying to keep it together keep their mental health together,

Teach boot camp class anything advanced fitness class(3 yrs) I get paid for an hour but put in 3, kick boxing class, jump rope and abs, warrior conditioning, scheduled 5 days a week, 6 and __ and 12 still parenting, crazy schedule gets exhausting, I live a dual life my “day” job is music at night, I’m very well paid in my heart, musician no prestige, I make a living fro music, fitness a big paying, woman told me that my husband complimented me on the way I looked last night and she was in tears she says thank you to me and I say thank you to yourself because you were in here working but somebody has to light the fire, for now I’m tending the fire, will come a day when I can’t lead the class, my best friend ex army ranger stay at home dad now he’s trainor, the story goes on, I see guys ten years younger and put on the weight, just shower, kids safe love being here, that feeds me and makes me come in when I’m tired, I feel like the ymca has been probably—it’s been around 12 13 most days of week I’ve been in the halls of the y, what the hell happened why am I here it’s surreal I feel like my life has been touched in a way that I can’t ___,

Here at the y have struggles with funding we’re trying to make our way people have to remember that you have to give and risk and put in, if I get an oil change I expect the service you better do it it’s business I don’t care if your wife is sick reality is not that clear cut, so I feel like that’s been the gift from the ymca for me, how can you sleep in when you can go out, physiological effects of stress exercise chemically mitigates it, you energize and they feedback loop my words,

Last words—one thing that’s been hard to do is let it happen, we all have preconceived notions, for me finding the physical side the fact that I’m an athlete, to this day I’ll say I’m not an athlete, we all have views of ourselves, I don’t know why I’m in front of people teaching classes it just happened, if we let out a little bit things can happen, open your minds enough take a risk take a chance and get rid of a preconceived notion whether it be, snotty woman homeless, know residents sits coffee funniest part of my day he makes me laugh, my family comes and we serve thanksgiving dinner, it’s like apart of us, this is not a fancy building it has leaks and drips and breaks my life is not perfect and it’s exhausting  


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Tom Holmes

Tom's been writing about religion – broadly defined – for years in the Journal. Tom's experience as a retired minister and his curiosity about matters of faith will make for an always insightful exploration...