A Belated Anniversary Love Letter To The Dailey Method

My one-year anniversary at The Dailey Method came and went about six weeks ago, in mid-June. I fully intended to write a post at that time but it’s been a busy summer around here. Better late than never. (P.S. This is NOT a sponsored post.)

Dearest The Dailey Method Naperville,

What a ride so far, right? In preparation for writing this, I reread the other posts I’ve written over the past year thirteen-and-a-half months (you can find them by clicking “The Dailey Method” at the very top of this page). I can’t believe how far I’ve come.

It amazes me for many reasons that it was only a year thirteen-and-a-half months ago that I walked through your doors for the first time (on a Friday, for a 9:45 a.m. Mixed class–BONNIE’S 9:45 a.m. Mixed class) as a blogger who was just going to try out the program and write about it three times during the month-long trial, mainly because I honestly can’t remember what my life was like before that day. I can’t remember what it was like to not know all of the wonderful people I’ve met at TDM, and I can’t remember what it was like to not feel the need to drive over to the studio on a daily basis to get my workout in.

The overall truth is that this workout changed my life forever, from that very first day, in ways that are far beyond the fitness aspects of it. But let me talk about the fitness parts first, because that’s what most people want to know when they search the internet for “Dailey Method results” and find themselves here on Suburban Scrawl.

The Dailey Method kicked my butt seat on that very first day, and it continues to do so after 293 classes (and counting!), which is a good thing because as we all know, TDM is a practice, not something you really want to master. The constant changing of the exercises we do (within the framework of the class, whose elements remain the same) challenges our muscles and make us stronger, longer, leaner (or is it stronger, leaner, longer? I can never remember the order). I have spoken to people who have been devotees for five years, and they still have a hard time with thigh work or *insert other part of class here*, so I’m in good company.

When I began, I had a good level of cardiovascular fitness but my flexibility and strength were sorely lacking. During the warmups when all we do is march with our hands at our sides, I couldn’t even turn out my arms enough so that my palms completely faced the mirror in front. It was frustrating, to say the least, but after a few months, I could do that. There were so many other frustrating parts, too. I couldn’t get on my knees and lean backwards, placing my palms on the floor. A few months ago, I was suddenly able to do THAT, too. This very week I hit another flexibility goal I’ve been aiming for: the spinal twist during which I could get my right elbow to the outside of my left knee and vice versa. I mean, barely, but I can do it now. Such small things, really, but they feel huge and amazing to me, like I’ve climbed a mountain.

I have always looked at myself as a physically strong person, which is why it amazes me every time how heavy the two-pound weights we use in class can feel after only a couple of minutes (and often I drop them!). After taking classes for the past year thirteen-and-a-half months, I realize that my level of strength was superficial in a way, because now I’m working my muscles from the inside out, which probably makes no sense to those who don’t take classes at a Dailey Method studio. I’m still working on holding a “true” (not on my knees) plank, but I’m able to get into a side plank for a few seconds every now and then, so PROGRESS.

Physically, I have made some awesome changes. What most people want to know is whether the Dailey Method makes one lose weight. It’s not really about that, and shouldn’t be. Here’s the truth when it comes to my personal situation. I have lost sixteen pounds since I started and am at my lowest weight in about three years, BUT (and this is a big BUT. Get it?) half of that has come off since the end of June when I was hospitalized for pancreatitis and I started truly watching how I ate (I’m now on a low-fat diet/lifestyle), so what they say is really true: the secret to losing weight is truly a combination of diet and exercise. I have finally gone down a size, and it’s nice to have loose pants for the first time in FOREVER.

Beyond the weight loss, I am seeing some great toning in my arms and legs, and my waist is coming back. Also, if I can share a little secret here (don’t tell anyone): I actually check out my own butt seat every single time I walk by a window or mirror and think, “Huh. Looks good!” Although I’m not nearly finished (who is, really?), I like the way I look RIGHT NOW. I am happy with me.

The physical triumphs are not the only reasons I stick around though, dear Dailey Method. When I walked through your doors for the first time last summer, I found something I didn’t even realize was missing from my life until that moment: community. I have made so many friends at the Dailey Method, friends who are in their twenties, thirties, forties, fifties, and sixties. Friends who have small children, friends who have older children, friends who have no children. Friends who are Chicago natives and friends who come from far-away places like Wisconsin and Louisiana and even the Netherlands. There are the brick wall ladies, the “dancers”, and the oh-so-inspirational (as co-owner Colleen calls the amazing pregnant students) Preggy-Pops. There are the instructors, who I adore. These ladies–all bound together by a commitment to physical fitness (and probably a shared disgust for thigh work)–have enriched my life more than any of them will ever know. Outside of the studio we’ve shared holiday get-togethers, baby showers, Spotify training sessions (I’m looking at you, Bonnie!) and BYOB outdoor concerts. The support I received from this community during LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER season earlier this year was so staggering that I still get a little teary when I think about it.

And there are Colleen and Michelle, the co-owners. What they mean to me I just cannot express in words anymore, so I won’t even try. I think they know how much I adore them.

So this whole Dailey Method thing? Life-changer. Colleen says something in class when we’re doing a chest stretch at which, admittedly, I would have made gagging noises thirteen-and-a-half months ago. It goes something like this: “When you open your arms wide you are opening your heart to all the love that’s out there, just waiting for you.” She is genuine when she says it, which is probably why I don’t gag at it, and I have discovered it is true. It is the way I try to live my life, and it is the way I walk into that studio every single day. And you know what? It works.

I love you, Dailey Method. I love you, Colleen, Michelle, Bonnie, Kim, Sally, Amber, Stephanie, Courtney, and all of the other instructors. I love you, Shannon, Kristie, Ellen, Tami, Erin, Margie, Renee, and all of my other co-students. I love you, Andrea. Thank you for loving me back.

Love, Melisa


  • Liz

    Yet another reason for my wanting to move to Naperville, but mostly you 🙂 Keep up the good work, they’re lucky to have you!

  • Donna

    Liz is right – you make this sound like workout heaven, and I HATE working out. I think they should hire you to write their PR and ads. 🙂

  • Rebecca {foodie with family}

    One of these days we will get to work out together and it will be a riot! It sounds like you have an incredible group of people in your fitness family (I think I just made myself urpy saying fitness family, but it’s true!)

  • Courtney

    This is absolutely beautiful!!! Congrats on your 13.5 months at TDM Melisa. YOU have given back SO much to our studio and community & it is weird to think about the time when we didn’t have you in class. Thank you for all you do & for what you give back. XOXO Court

  • Bonnie

    That is what I got when I read this! It resonated with me completely and very closely mimics my journey. The physical and emotional benefits from taking The Dailey Method classes are exponential in number!!
    I am so darn lucky to have met you! And I will forever be honored that you happen to venture, for your first time, into a class I was teaching! Everything happens for a reason…..