Although I was always an active person, it never occurred to me that people made a living out of all things fitness until I left the Navy back in 2004. Let’s rewind for a second to see how I found this out and how I fell in love with fitness and made it my career.
I am old enough that, in my neighborhood, there were not many youth sports teams when I was a kid. In fact, I never played a team sport until I got to high school.
Luckily, I went to an all-girls’ private school where I was able to explore lots of different sports for fun and for competition. I tried it all: basketball, field hockey, cross country, horseback riding, badminton, lacrosse, volleyball, soccer, and dance. I learned how to warm up, stretch, cool down, and pace myself. I learned to love running and weight training and I would take both of those with me as I graduated and entered the United States Naval Academy.
And at the Naval Academy I learned to love a few more sports: powerlifting, cheerleading, and swimming. My time in the navy seemed a little surreal, but I time I would not trade for anything.
So, how did get to fitness? Well, not directly. You see I didn’t really know what I was good at doing or what I should have been doing when I left the navy. After all, the navy taught me how to do quite a number of things, but I really wasn’t sure what that all meant. So I had a number of jobs in retail and education. Some were “glamorous” and some, well, not so much. But that is not the point. The point is that I knew I could not continue on this path of uncertainty much longer.
As shows like “The Biggest Loser” became more popular and the number of American adults and children with obesity-related illnesses continued to rise, I saw the numbers on my own scale head in the wrong direction.
And as I lost weight and tried out different programs, I realized that this is something I was getting good at and a way I could help people and make a difference in their lives. But I wasn’t sure if that was enough. It’s not like being a lawyer or social worker or nurse, but fitness careers are a viable way to help people, make money, and have fun at the same time.
Two years ago, after much debate and study, I became a certified personal trainer through ACE (American Council on Exercise). But that was just the beginning. I started coaching cheerleaders in Pop Warner (ages 5-15) and spent a season being an assistant coach for a girl’s swim team. At this point, I’ve been having a ball giving people the information I’ve learned and supporting them through all sorts of physical activities.
I started writing more and I really wanted to see where this fitness thing could take me. I didn’t want to be your average personal trainer. Nothing about me is average. I wanted to do more. I still want to do more. So, almost a year ago, I found a way to continue in fitness and be able to inspire and coach even more people (thanks to a Naval Academy classmate). That is through Team Beachbody.
Beachbody is the company that puts out at home workouts such as Turbo Jam, P90X, Insanity, and Hip Hop Abs. And it is through Beachbody that I have been able to transform my body more and finally begin to lose that excess weight that I first saw a few years ago (high weight of 198 pounds at only 5’3″ tall).
It was also through Beachbody that I came into contact with trainers like Chalene Johnson (the creator of Turbo Jam, Chalean Extreme, Turbo Kick, Hip Hop Hustle, and PiYo). I have also been fortunate enough to be in contact with her team at Powder Blue Productions and learn about how to become a fitness instructor.
Me? A fitness instructor? It had not occurred to me before, but I realized that I enjoyed the group format much more than the traditional one-to-one format as a personal trainer. This gave me a new goal for aspiration. Actually, a few new goals. It starts with my certification as a Hip Hop Hustle instructor. That is Chalene’s great dance workout.
Then I will get trained to teach Turbo Kick and PiYo (a great combination of Pilates and yoga like you’ve never seen). After all is said and done, I plan on becoming an Area Presentations Director (like Mindy in the Turbo Jam DVDs). Being an APD is the ultimate goal, but being able to bring fitness and health education to my community is the real benefit.
Throughout this whole process I’ve realized that it really is not about how much you know, but it is really about how much you care. I always thought I had to know more or lose a ton more weight before I could realize any success in the fitness industry. But the truth is that sometimes all people need to hear is that you were once where they are now.
Whether that was yesterday or 2 years ago. The point is my success, no matter how small it seems to me, may be the thing that gets someone thinking that now really is the time for them to live a healthier lifestyle. That’s what a fitness career is really about. It’s about the people I strive to help everyday. I also remember that it’s never about me!