From Ballet to Boxing with Allison Weinkein

(Published Dec 28, 2021)

These days, Allison Weinkein works out in the Mordoh Fitness Center as often as she can, averaging about four or five days a week. But it wasn’t always that way. “[Now] I get that little workout high that a lot of people talk about that I never believed. It ended up I was just doing the wrong exercise,” Allison said.

“Ballerinas Aren’t Allowed to Have Biceps”

Allison used to dance with Ballet Internationale, a professional company established in Indianapolis. When the troupe went bankrupt, she came to a crossroads: Should she continue on that career path or go to college? She chose college, and with that decision came the realization that the way she’d been getting her exercise was about to change drastically.

First, Allison tried swimming, which is what brought her to the J in the first place – her mom was already a member and swim instructor, and she liked the indoor pool – but the gym still intimidated her. “I thought that to come to the gym, you had to be a runner or go on the elliptical or do something like that,” she said. “I had never been in a weight room in my entire life. I was a ballerina; ballerinas aren’t allowed to have biceps!” So she hired a JCC personal trainer (“worth every single penny”) who, upon hearing Allison’s disdain for cardio, said, “Great. Let me introduce you to strength training,” and Allison never looked back.

“I Don’t Look Like Those People on Instagram”

Allison was originally nervous to come into the gym because “I didn’t know what I was doing, and I don’t look like those people on Instagram or people featured in fitness magazines. I am the complete opposite.” But at the J, “No one really cares. I don’t feel judged; it’s not a ‘gym bro’ culture. Genuinely, I love the environment this gym has, I like the attitude of everyone here, I like the community. I’ve started making gym friends – ‘Oh hey, how’s it going? I missed you last week!'”

While Allison admits that one of her goals for working out is to be shapely (“I want to look good!”), she also just wants to be healthy and able to keep up with her twin sons. “I don’t want to be that parent who sits on the couch and watches, I want to be outside running with them and not getting winded. I want to beat them!” she said.

“It’s Okay to Have Some Fun”

Even Allison needs some motivation to work out sometimes. “I made it a rule for myself that I can’t listen to a certain podcast unless I’m working out,” she said. “So I specifically chose mystery podcasts where if I really want to know what’s going to happen next, I have to be moving.” More practical considerations can come into play, too. “This gym membership – it’s not super expensive but it’s also not cheap. Any other gym can cost you $10 a month, well, ‘I’m not going to miss $10 a month so I’ll just skip the gym today.’ I am going to miss [what I pay here], so I better be getting my money’s worth.”

For those who may be daunted by the gym like Allison used to be, she advises starting small. “When I first started working out, I told myself that I was going to come three times a week and stay at least a half hour. My workouts started as 20-30 minutes, and then they evolved to 45 minutes, and then they evolved to an hour. Sunday mornings are my long workouts – I get here at 7 am and sometimes I don’t leave until 9:30 or 10! Start out small, and then you’ll find yourself coming back for more and staying just a little bit longer.”

Like most things in life, there’s always a give-and-take: Fitness is a big part of Allison’s routine, but she also loves to bake (cakes and brownies especially). Allison realizes that enjoying one does not negate the other, and she’s passing that awareness on to her sons. “My boys are starting to grow an interest in coming to the gym and working out, so they’ve joined me a few times on my 7 am morning workouts and they love it. It’s fun to be able to show my kids the balance of ‘Yes, we can work out, yes, I’m at the gym a lot, but listen, let’s go have fun, let’s go get ice cream.’ Everything isn’t black or white. It’s okay to have some fun and indulge a little bit too.”