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Muscle-Head in a Storm: How The Gym Helped Me Escape Sandy

By Dan Trink, CSCS


When I heard the news a week ago of a hurricane potentially hitting New York City, where I live, I didn't really think much of it. We've gotten these warnings before, only to end up with some drizzle and a few downed branches. I ignored the postings in the subway stations. Teased my wife about her watching endless hours of storm coverage. Felt amazed that people were waiting on huge lines for groceries.

This wasn't going to touch us, I figured. Besides, I was on a roll of good luck: I'd just celebrated my 12th wedding anniversary with my beautiful wife; we have an incredible, healthy and happy 5-month-old son; and I work a dream job as Director of Training Operations at Peak Performance in NYC, which is consistently ranked one of the top 10 gyms in America. It's essentially Disneyland for muscle-heads like me, and I get to go there every day to train a roster full of great clients and athletes. Even my dog is awesome. So why would I worry?

Well, you'd have to be living in a tin Unabomber shack in the middle of nowhere to not know what happened next. . Sandy hit us, and she hit us hard.

For the most part, my inexplicable luck continued. My family was spared from the brunt of the damage. We managed to stay dry and keep power. A tree fell onto our apartment building, but no one was hurt. Our Cobble Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn was spared the disaster that struck so many of our neighbors. Red Hook, only a few miles away, was underwater. My friends and colleagues in New Jersey and Queens were under evacuation orders, not knowing when they could return home. Family members in Long Island lost homes and cars.

I don't know why I was so lucky, I can only feel thankful. And humbled.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not without problems. Peak Performance is located in a part of Manhattan that's still without power. The gym hasn't yet reopened, which means I'm essentially out of work at the moment. It also means I have nowhere to train myself.

Not being able to work out in the midst all of this chaos should seem like a trivial problem. I know that it is. In the beginning, I couldn't have cared about exercise -I was concerned only about the safety and well-being of my family, friends, and the community around us. After the storm, I tried to focus on how all of the hours that we, like everybody, had to spend locked inside our home would give me more time with my son. I thought I could even get caught up on my writing, and maybe my sleep, since I wouldn't have to wake up at 5 a.m. for work. And that felt okay -for a while. But as days wore on, the storm clouds parted, and the city began to stabilize, I started to get antsy. I needed to get out of the house and train.

When you work out for four to six days per week for over a decade, something must happen to you on a cellular level. Call it adaptation or addiction, but whatever it is, you get to this point where you just don't feel right if you don't exercise. Your body almost demands that you bang out a couple of sets of squats or a few dozen kettlebell swings. Without the gym, you don't feel normal. And with everything in this city turned upside down by this terrible tragic storm, I wanted to feel normal again.

Like I said, I work full-time at a gym, so I haven't had to have a membership to a club in my neighborhood for years. There are three workout facilities within walking distance from my apartment. One was still closed due to the storm. The second simply would not let me in, telling me they were too crowded and not allowing "outsiders."

Finally, I reached the New York Sports Club in Cobble Hill, where the membership coordinator, Roxanne Johnson, welcomed me with open arms. I asked if I could buy a day pass, but instead she gave me a three-day membership, free of charge. For all I know, this could be NYSC's standard procedure, but for me, on that day, Roxanne may as well have been wearing a Wonder Woman outfit. She was my new hero.

As I got familiar with the facility and started my leg training session, I thought about how it wasn't just the workout I was seeking. It felt great to be out of the apartment. To escape the constant images of boats piled on front lawns and fires raging out of control. To not be worrying about whether the power was going out, or being out of business, and wondering when my gym will be back up and running again. It felt great to be surrounded by neighbors, other men and women working up a sweat, doing what we love to do. It almost felt normal.

When it was all over, I walked home to my wife and son. Along the way, I thought about how not everyone in my city could do the same.

It is not lost on me: I am a lucky man.


This guest post was written by Dan Trink, CSCS and Director of Personal Training Operations at Peak Performance in NYC. The opinions expressed herein are his and his alone. To learn more about Dan, follow him on Facebook and Twitter, or at his website

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