March 31, 2017

Flex Your Workouts – Jeffrey Swidrak

Flexibility. In the world of athletics, it’s an essential element for fitness. Forget to stretch those newly minted leg muscles and they might just trip you up – literally. In life, flexibility is equally essential. Things change, after all – jobs, goals, even weekend plans. If you can’t go with the flow (at least some of the time), then you’ll run yourself into frustrating walls.

Stretching Your Routine

Most of us probably try to stay pretty flexible in general, but what about when it comes to our gym routines? Once you commit to something, it can feel wrong to turn a different way. If you take up lifting, is it bad to drop it after a few months? If you commit to yoga classes, what if you end up not really loving it? Is it OK to try something new?

The reality is, it’s especially important to allow yourself flexibility in the gym. With all physical activity, you should be listening to what your body is telling you. If you (or your knees, or your back) hate a workout, how likely are you to ever get to the gym? Here at MIT Recreation, we always encourage our members stay in tune with their physical needs, and adjust accordingly. But for one of our members, Jeffrey Swidrak, this is old news. He has had a lot of experience with the gym and with flexibility already – more than 20 years of it in fact! He has pretty much mastered the art of finding the right workout…and then finding it again.

20 Years of Flexibility

It all started in high school for Jeffery. As a freshman, he took up lifting and loved it. All through high school football he continued to focus on weights and strength training. But then life changed for him, when he went on to college. “Once I reached college, there really was no reason for me to continue hard with my pure strength training,” says Jeffery. Without the motivation of football games, the drive to train hard on his strength was gone. So, he sought out the right workout routine for his college days. “I ended up focusing on losing weight and running. I met up with some ex-cross country runners and we ran the trails at least a few times a week.” Devoted strength trainer to weekday runner was quite the change-up, but Jeffery was un-phased. He was focused on fitting his workout to his current lifestyle and needs.

After college, as it tends to do, life changed up again for Jeffery. He decided to check out boxing, and found it to be a great new fit. “I really enjoyed the intensity required to keep up the workout,” he says. He enjoyed the workout so much, he joined a boxing gym. About half a year in, he progressed to partner sparring. “After a few sparring matches I realized that the real thing was not for me,” admits Jeffery. The workouts? Fantastic. To this day Jeffery enjoys hitting the heavy bag and speed bag in his home gym. But the matches were not for him, and so, undeterred, he moved forward.

Find the Right Fit for Your “Now”

Jeffery transferred to a powerlifting/strongman gym after boxing, and started training with logs, axles and stones. Within the course of a year he even competed, placing 4th in the novice category. But the workouts started to wear at him physically, and Jeffery was listening to the feedback his body was giving him. “Due to my age and the toll it put on my body, I knew it was time to move on,” says Jeffery. And so he did, and not long after, Jeffery become a member at MIT Recreation.

These days, Jeffery is focusing on overall health training. “This has really helped me feel the best I have physically in years,” he shares. His workouts usually combine a good 30-minute warmup with cardio or light compound strength movements. You might see him on the Fitness Floor over at Alumni/Wang, but he tends to still switch things up. This flexibility is one of the things he loves about his workouts at MIT Recreation. “I can run around the esplanade, do a yoga class, or do some heavy dead-lifting without having to switch gyms.” Sit-ups or city-views, we applaud Jeffery’s devotion to his health and his flexibility.


Jeffery is a great example of how freeing and important it can be to flex your workouts. But it is equally important to note that if you have found something you love for your fitness routine already, great! It’s good to try out new things now and then, sure, but don’t feel pressured to ‘fix what isn’t broken’ either. Just allow yourself the flexibility to change things up – if and when you ever want to.