May 25, 2022

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The journey to health: How and why I became a fitness professional | Sponsored

I got into exercise and fitness only in the past decade of my life, and it was by chance. I had been very interested in nutrition for a long time and wanted to become a dietitian, but the prerequisite of two years of chemistry deterred me. I knew I wanted to help people lead healthy lives, and so opted for some form of health promotion. 

Thirteen years ago when I was looking into which graduate program I should join, I decided on a master’s in exercise science (clinical track) because my goal was to work in employee wellness with ordinary folk like myself. I found it laughable that I was getting my master’s in exercise science when all the exercise I did was walking! I used to say to people that I would study my husband exercising because he did actually exercise.

During the course of my studies and practical work in cardiopulmonary rehab, I learned how important exercise is for preventing and managing chronic diseases.

I incorporated what I learned into my life and the life of my family. I acquired my American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Clinical Exercise Physiologist Certification and their Level 3 Exercise is Medicine credential. A year later we moved to Flagstaff. I started volunteering with physical therapists who were doing cardiac and pulmonary rehab. Finding a job was really difficult. 

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In the meantime, I was helping my adult sons with fitness. In 2019, a friend advised me to become a personal trainer. I laughed and said, “At my age?” Yes, I was 54 years old at the time. I signed up for the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)-Certified Personal Trainer course and got certified.

Why I wish fitness had always been a part of my life

From the time I was a kid, I have had back problems. As I grew older, the problems grew wih me. For the past couple of decades, the physical therapist’s office was my second home. 

Studying for the CPT exam made me aware of why I had so much back trouble. A weak core. Unfortunately, the damage done to my spine cannot be undone, although I can delay or prevent progression of it.

In the same way, I learned how a strong lower body protects your knees. I wish I’d known this earlier.

The types of clients I am passionate about helping

When I got into my master’s program, my goal was to help ordinary people like myself, not stars or athletes. I have now narrowed my focus to women in their 50s. Ordinary women, with normal problems, who have spent their lives taking care of their families, having put themselves on the back burner. 

Now they may be struggling with their weight, with balance and mobility issues, with chronic conditions, with not being able to do all that they want and need to do. They want to reclaim their health. They aren’t ready for the rocking chair yet. They want to live life to the fullest.

I am passionate about serving women in their 50s because I empathize with them and their struggles. I know they can take charge of their health, and improve their quality of life by becoming stronger, fitter, having less chronic pain, having more energy, and losing excess body weight.

Life events or experiences that have prepared me to be in the position I’m in right now

Our life experiences in a way make us who we are. I’ve dealt with a lot of health issues in the past, and am dogged by some even now. Injuries, muscle weakness that resulted in being easily injured, being pre-diabetic, having elevated cholesterol are some of the significant issues I have dealt with. I know what it’s like to not even be able to walk for exercise. I was diagnosed with Chronic Exertional Compartment Syndrome in both my lower legs. After major surgery for those, and long recovery periods, I could finally walk for aerobic exercise.

All these experiences have colored the fabric of my life, have made me rethink my own health and wellness, and increased my empathy for others. I can’t say that I am rid of these issues, but they are definitely better controlled (if only my thyroid would behave!). Have I reached perfection? Far from it! But I am on my journey, moving onward and upward.