Transitioning from being a college athlete to a recent college graduate trying to stay in shape can be tough. Many athletes struggle with the adjustment without the strict workout schedule and accountability of being part of a team. 

According to a study conducted by the health and exercise science team at UCLA, retired athletes struggle just as much as the rest of us to make exercise a regular habit. One of the most common reasons athletes cited for their struggle to transition? The structure. Carefully planned training regimens, support from coaches and professors, tutoring, and class scheduling, seem to disappear overnight once these athletes graduate. And many of them relied on that structure to stay fit. 

Tyler Burnett, 31, is a former college athlete who thrives off structure and routine. 

“For me, structure helps reduce my stress and anxiety and allows me to develop healthy habits and self-discipline and be more productive,” he says. 

However, he’s found a way to create his own routine and continue prioritizing fitness post-grad. 

A lifelong Memphian, Tyler grew up playing competitive sports and staying active. He went on to play baseball at Christian Brothers University and found himself missing competitive sports once he graduated in 2015. He knew he needed to join a gym to stay in shape and maintain a reliable routine. 

When searching for the right gym to join post-college, Tyler was looking to get his heart rate up and find an instructor to teach him how to lift weights properly. He decided to sign up for a class at CrossFit SOPO in Germantown and try it out, and he hasn’t looked back since then. 

CrossFit is a high-intensity fitness program combining aspects of weightlifting, gymnastics, and aerobic exercise. It typically involves performing sets of constantly varied functional movements at high intensity. These movements are usually done in a group setting and often include squats, push-ups, burpees, pull-ups, and other bodyweight exercises. 

Unless Tyler is out of town, he’s at CrossFit SOPO every evening after work. A loyal member, Tyler keeps coming back not only for the great workout but for the camaraderie, support, and encouragement shared between members. He also raves about CrossFit SOPO’s reliability. 

“I have a hectic life, and knowing there will be a class available at a scheduled time allows me to sort of zone out and decompress in that one-hour timeframe,” he explains. “I think this reliability is really what they do best.” 

After years of doing CrossFit, Tyler’s excited to take on “The Murph,” a CrossFit workout that involves running one mile, doing 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, 300 bodyweight squats, and then running another mile while wearing a 20-lb. vest. 

Tyler’s also introducing a new element to his fitness routine this year – chasing after his puppy, Ryder. They go on walks daily, and Tyler’s in the beginning stages of teaching him to retrieve for duck hunting. Although balancing a puppy with work, fitness, and a social life can be challenging, Ryder’s been great for reinforcing the routine that Tyler craves. 

“Ryder’s done a good job keeping me on schedule,” Tyler laughs. “He knows exactly when it’s time to eat and when it’s time to wake up.” 

By Lucy Modzelewski

Photo by Tindall Stephens