Women Who Inspire ME!
Updated: Mar 13
This past Monday was International Women’s day, so I thought it would be a great opportunity to mention a few of the women who helped me along my health and fitness journey, and those continue to inspire me everyday.
I would be remiss if I didn’t start this post with the Number one woman in my life…
My mother has been battling with her weight since I can remember. I remember her going to Weight Watcher’s meetings when I was a kid. I remember her playing yo-yo with her weight, and I remember the not so healthy food choices that she passed on to me.
I also remember a lot of good things. My mom loves skiing, hiking and swimming, and always had a smile on her face when she was outside gardening. She pushed my sister and me to always try new things when it came to exercise, and although I never enjoyed the sports I played as a kid, I think seeing her joy when doing activities she loved really made me want to find something that I enjoyed.
My mom supported me every step of the way during my weight loss, even though she was 500 miles away at the time. When I signed up to become a turbokick instructor, she cheered me on, and she was ready to practice with me whenever I needed a helper. She even signed up to take my classes when I started teaching in public - just to make sure I had participants. When people would be nervous to take my class, saying “it looks too hard,” or “no, I’m too old for that,” I would grab my mom and say, “If my mom who’s in her 60s can do this class, so can you!” Most of the time, it got them in the door.
Even today, she joins me occasionally for virtual classes, and she’s even talked about herself becoming a group instructor for seniors in retirement.
I love that I can inspire her the way that she’s always inspired me! I’m so proud of her for all that she’s accomplished and her continuous achievements continue to inspire me to this day.
Three women in particular helped me kick-start my weight loss when I moved to Virginia and started working at a bank.
My coworker Brenna was the first. A member of the Anytime Fitness across the street, Brenna convinced me to join her for classes at the gym. I was immediately hooked.
Brenna dragged me to Zumba, Boot Camp, Yoga, and even Body Pump classes. I honestly think if I didn’t have her as a workout buddy, I would have just done the elliptical every day - which would have gotten really boring. Really fast.
After a short while, our other coworker, Olivia, joined us at the gym. The three of us became close friends and worked out together almost everyday after work. Whenever I wanted to skip, one of these women would help encourage and motivate me.
Olivia made yoga especially fun. Looking back on it, we were horrible class participants! We would always be talking and laughing during class. But we had fun, and we kept each other going back for more.
The third in this set was the instructor, Gioia. Gioia taught the zumba and yoga classes, and instilled values for her classes that I still believe in today. She made the classes fun and carefree. She didn’t care if you got all the moves right, just that you were making an effort. She knew the names of her regulars, and she took the time to celebrate them and their achievements. I hope that I can one day inspire people the way that she inspired me.
When I moved back to Massachusetts and became an instructor, it took me a while to find my new FitFam. I am so lucky to have formed a group that consists of family, friends, class participants, and coworkers - all of whom inspire me to keep moving and learning and finding joy in fitness.
Four women in particular stick out in this group:
April - a friend, a coworker, and an inspiration to us all. April is a personal trainer and teaches classes at the gym where I teach. She has lost over 100lbs on her own journey, and now she works with children and adults of all ages to help them find a love of fitness. She has so much energy and enthusiasm in her classes, and she is in amazing shape! I hope to one day be half the instructor she is!
Lisa is my work mom, a woman who also lost a significant amount of weight in her time and now works at a gym helping others start their health and fitness journey. She was diagnosed with MS and was forced to get her health on track or end up severely disabled. Lisa chose fitness. Today, she runs races all over the state all year long, including half marathons! With my own health issues, I feel so lucky to have her in my life to remind me that you can’t let anything stand in your way, and if you put the effort in, you can achieve anything!
Annie was introduced to me through April, her coworker at the time. Annie and I instantly became friends, and our friendship has grown and flourished over the past few years. Annie was my sounding board as I brainstormed ideas for the name of this blog. She helps me come up with ideas to write about, and she helped me coin the term GUARD (see last week’s post). Most importantly, Annie is always there for me when I’m having a bad day or need a reminder that I know what I’m talking about and that I’m good at what I do!
This past year, she discovered pilates through the magic of another amazing woman - Cassey Ho, a youtuber and blogger that does pilates workouts under the name Blogilates. Not only did Annie find a workout that she loves, but she recently shared her progress pics with me and is on her way to a weight and a body that she loves and feels confident in!
I am so proud of her, and so grateful to have her as my friend and my inspiration!
Last but definitely not least in this list is my dear friend Nicole, who has been my bestie since College. Nicole knew me when I was at my heaviest, and saw my progress through my whole journey. She herself is a gym-rat weight lifter, but also a woman of the wild outdoors. Nicole helped me re-learn my love of hiking and other outdoorsy activities. Together we’ve gone on many adventures, including ropes courses, letterboxing, corn-mazes, and indoor rock climbing!
Nicole also helps remind me that we all have different workout styles and preferences - and that’s OKAY! I’m a lover of classes and yoga and bodyweight training. She prefers weight lifting and the occasional basketball game. She’s come to a few of my classes, and found that they’re not for her - and I respect that completely and I’m grateful for the reminder that exercise isn’t one size fit all.
There’s also a number of women “celebrities” that inspire and motivate me to keep trying new things and spreading the word about health and fitness. I won’t give you all the details of how they’ve been a part of my journey (or else this blog will go on for days), but here is a list with some links for you to check out!
Chalene Johnson, the creator of Turbokick and Piyo (the two classes I teach).
Cassey Ho from Blogilates
Michele Park, format expert for PiYo, fitness business owner and coach, and creator of SoulFusion (my next endeavor)
Jenné Claiborne from Sweet Potato Soul
Sadia Badiei from Pick Up Limes
Michelle Obama, who was instrumental in changing the food pyramid to the MyPlate design, and who continues to provide education for nutrition and fitness for people of all ages (and I hear she has a new kids cooking show on netflix!)
There are so many women I could add to this blog post, and I’m sure I will continue to meet even more in the future.
I encourage you to look back on your own journey, and make a list of all the women in your life who inspire you! Give them a shout out or send them a card in honor of International Women’s Day!