It was time to level up on my fitness goals

Heavy things to make me feel less heavy.

Once upon a time I felt like I was physically fit. I used to run, was a monster on the spin bike and boxed twice a week (I was a windmill with the jump rope). Nowadays, I feel like it’s quite possible that I’m made out of barely flexible PVC pipe instead of muscle. I also have a 5 year old and my mid-40s coming up, so I decided it was time to make a change, and I wanted local help to get me back on track.

I didn’t want to join a franchise gym because I knew that I’d walk in and either want to pick up all the things… or I’d wander aimlessly trying to remember how to pick up anything and likely injuring myself. I didn’t want an over-eager salesperson trying to upsell me on a training / spa package. Believe me, I’ve done those days. What I needed was an experienced trainer who could get me back into the workout groove without intimidation. There’s nothing wrong with Washington Sports Club, Crossfit or similar gyms, but when you’re 40-something, you need a trainer who understands your goals and knows how to restart you back on the path. I didn’t want a group or class environment, I wanted one person to kick my butt in the right direction.

So I swallowed my pride (I’ve been blissfully convinced my clothes were shrinking, that’s all) and went into Level Up Personal Training on Georgia Avenue and talked with the owner, Cregory Boatwright. Now I knew nothing about Level Up beyond checking their website and seeing that they offer 1-1 personal training. But that was what I was exactly what I was looking for — someone who could help keep me focused through the beginning phases of my plan to get back in shape, and then could help keep me on-track after that.

I met up with Creg at his gym and we sat in his office and talked through my goals, my creaky knee, my problematic back and my expectations. While I didn’t know anything about Level Up before I walked in, I knew I had to make a change and I decided to go with my gut to get rid of my gut. I signed up.

Cregory Boatwright, owner & trainer at Level Up.

It’s been two weeks working out with Creg, and I’m now lifting all the things and feeling great. (Ok, so I’m sore the next day and sometimes the day after that, but at least I’m sore because I’m exercising, not because I got off the couch the wrong way.) I’ve already lost 7 pounds, I don’t get as tired walking up the typically broken Metro escalator and I look forward to working out in a way I haven’t for years. Best part, I'm doing this the right way for me, getting right back into training smartly, with care for that crappy back and mid-life-crisis aches and pains. We meet up three times a week at Level Up, where Creg has a full complement of machines and free weights, and 30 years of experience in weight-lifting and nutrition. 

This one looks easy to lift.... No, no, actually it's really heavy... ok, maybe this 5lb one is a better weight! Power lifter!

Creg’s formula for working with clients is to connect with them, get to know their lifestyles and their goals. We chat between moving heavy inanimate objects around the room and doing crunches, and I’ve learned as much about him as he has about me. 

Creg opened Level Up Fitness two and a half years ago, bringing years of experience as a personal trainer, and achieving his own fitness goals (he used to do muscle competitions). He started working out in a gym when he was a teen, and began training others in 1999 at a Gold’s Gym down in Florida. He eventually opened his own studio, taught health and fitness at Springfield College and then worked at Gold's Gym in DC for a few years after he moved to the District with his wife in 2008. 

“I wanted to provide a well-rounded, affordable fitness studio,” Creg told me in-between sets. “Weight loss comes with that. I like to see people get healthy and reach their goals.”

As great as aerobic and weight-lifting is for you, the real recipe to getting in shape is what you eat. Creg gave me a simple-to-follow nutrition plan based on macros, not on dieting (macros refers to the amount of protein, carbs and fat food contains).

My challenge now is that I’m not eating enough. A few weeks ago I felt like I ate plenty, but really it was just the wrong stuff. Now it’s about the right balance of protein, carbs and fats -- it's not about counting calories, it's putting in the right kind of calories. I use an app called MyMacros+ on my iPhone to track macros for each meal. The app does all the calculations and makes it easy to scan barcodes of food, or enter custom recipes, etc. Basically, I scan a barcode, weigh out the food or just follow the suggested servings and eat away. It's a great app, and there's a companion website as well.

Creg had told me at the beginning that eating more food than I was used to was probably going to be the hardest part, and he’s right. To help get the right amount of protein and carbs, I’m supplementing with healthy protein bars and shakes from Vitamin Shoppe in Columbia Heights. (It’s that or 7 eggs in the morning, cottage cheese for snacks, and 4 ounces of chicken for lunch… you get the idea.) I'm actually pretty obsessed with this one particular protein brownie for my nighttime snack. It's insanely good. 

Petworth News doesn’t endorse much, but I want to give Creg a shout out for being exactly what I needed, when I needed. I leave our workouts tired, sweaty and knowing I’m being awesome.

If you’re looking to get back into shape, don’t want the faceless anonymity of a regular gym and do want someone who is focused on your goals every time you walk in the door, give Creg a call. 

I told him I was going to write an article about Level Up, so he told me he’ll offer Petworth News readers a special of 3 training sessions for only $99 to see how they like it (his normal rate is pretty affordable, too). That's a great deal.

He works with 20-somethings, 50-somethings and in-between. You can work out at his gym, or he does training sessions at your home. You don’t have to try to be Schwarzenegger to work out in a gym, you just have to want to feel good physically and feel good about yourself. He also does group classes and morning bootcamps, if that's your trauma.

Find Creg at Level Up Personal Training (4424 Georgia Ave NW) and call him at 202-674-3480. Tell him Drew sent you.