Your fitness stories (Jamie, Rebecca, Samantha and Erica)

Yesterday, I write a little post about my Zumba story and put the call out for some of yours. The key to consistency is finding a workout you LOVE and I was so excited to hear about what pushes your workout buttons. I received quite a few awesome comments and stories via email, and thought it would be fun to share some of them. Thank you again so much to those of you who sent them in. While I won’t be able to post all of them, I’ve read them all and hope to share quite a few this week!

The first one is from Jamie, a fellow Zumba instructor:

In the summer of 2005, I sat in my mom’s living room, reading an Oprah Magazine. It said, “do something this year that you’ve never done before and write it down now”

I wrote down, “attend a group fitness class” I’m not kidding, they scared me to death; I was absolutely terrified of them. Everyone sitting there- watching you, staring at you- judging somehow-and that summer I got up enough courage to take a group class- a spin class and I loved it.

I love that memory because I remember thinking that there was NO way I could ever take a group class and now, I teach one. It’s really crazy what we’re all capable of if we face our fears.

I got my personal training certification and group fitness certification in November of 2009. My mom always says that we take little steps to finding our passion and this one was a stepping-stone for me.

In March of 2010, I began working at the gym on base in Germany and on a whim signed up to get certified in Zumba. I had only heard of it from the fitnessista and I (unlike her) have absolutely no dance background- so why wouldn’t I sign up for this? I drove to Dusseldorf, Germany with my mom and I was the ONLY English speaking one there (I found this out when I had to raise my hand and ask the instructor….”UHHHH WHAT did you JUST say lady!?”

Anyway, I cried halfway through the certification. I couldn’t get a basic step and I just lost it. “Why am I here, why did I come, why did I think I could do this?” Those were all the things that were running through my head.

I began teaching Zumba for free in May of 2010. I had a group of ladies that would show up mid-day to shake their rumps with me. It was one of the best environments for me and I hope I made it that was for others.


In March of 2011, I began to teach at night and one night I had over 100 people- it was the coolest thing I have ever been a part of. The year I started teaching at night coincided with the year that Nick was gone for deployment (this was also nice because 99% of women were going through the same thing and they all could relate to my random tear-laden eyes before class)

I am not lying when I tell you- my Zumba ladies-or Zumba saved me from many blue days. I have been in tears multiple times before class and not wanted to teach, but knowing that people were counting on me- forced me to put on a happy face and it turns out by the end of class, I would feel ten times better. I don’t know if I could have made it through deployment without it.

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This community changed me. I overcame so many of my fears- coming to a place that was judgment free and was able to shake my booty for a hour. It brought out a confidence in me that I always knew I had.

One of my favorite quotes is one that my brother told a pee-wee football team before their championship game:

“Hey doesn’t matter what you do out there…just better yourself. Be better than the last play, better than the last practice, better than the last game. Be better than yesterday”

We can be our worst enemies or our own best friend. Don’t compare yourselves to others. Just strive to be a better YOU and with that I thank the ladies of Baumholder, Germany for making me- a better me.

Here’s one from Rebecca about her love of running:

About four years ago I moved from Toronto, Ontario to Ottawa. Moving to Ottawa meant saying goodbye to all my family and friends, and also goodbye to my full-time teaching job. Although I was lucky to get some part-time occasional work right away, I found myself with lots of time on my hands.  As someone who had never been in some sort of educational institution the day after Labour Day (when school starts here) – I felt at a loss of what I should be doing. I had almost no friends, no career and no money. So I decided to take up running!
I was a track athlete in high school – running sprints, hurdles and relays.  However, all my races were short – max being 400m. I remember one year competing in my school’s annual 1 mile run and it being the worst “race” ever – I came in dead last and said that I would never run long distance again. 8 years later, I’m not sure what came over me, but I decided to go out for a run one day.  I could barely make it past a KM without stopping the first few times. For the first few weeks I stuck with running 2K and 3K. Eventually I did get a more steady job (which included coaching track and field!), but I still continued to run.
While sitting in the lunch room one day, people were discussing the upcoming Ottawa Run Weekend races (our biggest race of the year). On a whim, I decided to sign up for my very first 5K race. I set the bar fairly low – wanting to finish in 40  minutes. At this point in my running career, I had no idea how slow or fast I was running. I did not know what a Garmin was, nor did I have any clue what a negative split was. I was a nervous wreck the day of the race – but I was looking forward to it. I figured that it wouldn’t be too bad. During the race, I did have to stop for a rest a couple times – but I came in well under my goal in 33 minutes. Later the summer I signed up for more races – and eventually ducked under the 30 minute mark.
The following year, I signed up for more race – but running had to take a backseat as I found out that I was pregnant. I ran the Ottawa Run Weekend 5K again, but because of the high humidity and being pregnant – I ended up having to walk half the race. This past season I had my little running buddy with me! We went on runs almost every afternoon that the weather cooperated. Although I did not PB – I did manage to get a sub-30 time in one race while pushing Max in the Chariot! I also ran my first 10K and half-marathon. To think, the girl who couldn’t run 800m before, now can run 21+ KM’s!
In the past couple of years I have taken my love of running to the next level. I have encouraged people to sign up for races, starting a running (and other things) blog, and worked on my own fitness. I am positive that my 2013 season will be my best yet! I am also looking forward to signing Max up for his first 1K race one of these days!

Samantha’s running story:

My fitness story might be different than a lot of people that read ‘health blogs’ because I have never been overweight and I have always been an active person. I did 3 sports in high school (swimming, cheerleading, and gymnastics), but gained about ten pounds in my first year of college. I knew that I wouldn’t be happy with myself unless I became active and athletic again, so I joined a gym. I tried running on the treadmill and hated it with a burning passion. I tried the elliptical and thought it was the most boring thing in the world. I tried weight lifting and didn’t have a clue what to do. This went on for maybe another year and a half before I realized how badly I wanted to find a fitness passion. I have always admired runners, but like I said, I couldn’t stand to run on the treadmill for more than 2 minutes at a time.

I thought running would be something that I would always hate, but I would do it to be more fit. I started doing intervals on the treadmill and hated it a little less, but I still couldn’t run a mile without walk breaks. Gradually through this process of trying to be a ‘runner’ I realized that I needed to slow my pace down and focus on building up my endurance. After slowing my pace wayyy down I was able to run a mile without stopping! This was so inspiring to me. I kept running and slowly building up my distance. This was a very slow process, but I was starting to LIKE running. Not love it, but like it. I liked how strong I felt afterwards. I liked telling my fiance that I ran more than I did the week before. I am proud to say that all my friends now call me a ‘runner’! I run about 4 times a week varying distances between 2 miles and 10 miles. I don’t take walk breaks anymore and 99% of the time I feel amazing when I run! I honestly think it has helped me in every aspect of my life: self-esteem, stress relief, sleeping, eating healthy, etc. I am signed up for my first half-marathon and I couldn’t be more happy with my fitness story. I hope others that think the way I did about being a ‘runner’ will give it a chance and push through the hard stuff because it’s worth it.

and Erica, who is a fellow group fitness instructor:

I started seeing a personal trainer in 2009, after really hitting a low in terms of my self esteem and body image. I grew up feeling very aware of my body in ballet and figure skating. As I finished high school and went to college, I hit a place with my weight that seemed to stick. I wasn’t super overweight, but I felt so heavy. I thought about it constantly but didn’t really tell anyone. It continued like this for years. After I finally sought help with a trainer, I started to gain confidence. I always loved going to the gym, dancing, and working out, but I never really made much physical progress, so the trainer gave me the structure I needed to reach goals. As I lost weight I gained confidence and my sister suggested getting certified to teach group fitness. Doing that was the best choice of my life. Once I got certified I started a small bootcamp class made up of friends willing to be guinea pigs. What it has grown into, after almost 2 years, is not something I can easily put into words. My class is full of old and new friends, people who inspire me with their determination and progress. I can have a bad day, but the moment I walk in to teach, that feeling dissolves and I’m happy to be doing something I love. I have had ups and downs since I started teaching, but in those moments during my classes and training sessions, I am happy, I am confident, and I wouldn’t give it up for the world.


So tell me friends, who was your first fitness inspiration when you were first getting started? For me, it was a personal trainer at the base gym in Fayetteville named Michelle. She taught spin classes and also did figure competitions. I met with her a few times to discuss strength training strategies and nutrition. She was especially insightful and encouraging, and helped me to back off the cardio (a little- I still love me some cardio) and really get into strength training.

See ya in the morning!



NEW fashion post: Bleach pen DIY! I can’t wait to try this one.

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  1. Chelsea on January 22, 2013 at 9:43 pm

    I had never been very interested in fitness, and thought I hated working out. My roommate freshman year of college was an avid runner—7 miles was her SHORT run of the week. She was so devoted and motivated, that I was inspired to start working out. From then on, I worked out a few times a week, found a Turbokick class at my college that I LOVED, and started running a little bit. Now, I run 5 times a week and still take a kickboxing class. I have found working out to be the best anti-stress/anxiety medicine ever. I don’t know where I’d be today without it.

  2. Sara @ LovingOnTheRun on January 22, 2013 at 9:51 pm

    I love this post ! It really shows how everyone’s fitness journey can be different in their own way! I thought my journey was going to be runnning, but after several sidelining injuries I have decided that I need to find a new passion and really find something I can enjoy. I am restarting my fitness journey and am more than excited about it!

  3. Abby on January 22, 2013 at 10:26 pm

    I have always adored distance running. Ran track and cross country in high school and kept it up for years after. Since having a baby however getting in a long run 5 days a week just isn’t feasible anymore and I’ve been doing lots of interval training, which I don’t love but it gets the job done. I’ve also started doing a lot of strength training lately that I really enjoy. Before 3 months ago I had never seriously attempted any weight lifting but I’ve absolutely fallen in love with it and look forward to it almost everyday! Its amazing the changes to my body weight lifting have made that miles and miles of Cardio never did! You were one of the reasons I started incorporating it in to my routine so thank you #

  4. Dorris on January 22, 2013 at 10:31 pm

    Love this!!

  5. Joi @ Rx Fitness Lady on January 22, 2013 at 10:58 pm

    These are all great stories! I can relate to a few of them. Teaching a group fitness class will certainly turn your frown upside down in a time of sorrow, pain, loneliness, etc. When you get in front of your members, it’s like magic takes over & you forget about whatever is happening outside the gym. Great post!

  6. Stephanie @ Legally Blinde on January 22, 2013 at 11:24 pm

    Great post, Gina – thanks for sharing these! It’s really encouraging to read motivating fitness stories, and it’s nice to be able to relate to parts of other people’s journeys.

  7. Mila on January 23, 2013 at 2:37 am

    Gina, this is so inspiring! I loved reading about your Zumba experience and I loved reading these womens’ stories. Seriously – *RESPECT* for admitting a fear of group fitness classes. It may sound silly, but I TOTALLY get how something so ordinary can just petrify us. These ladies’ stories were very inspirational! Great posts!

  8. Natalie on January 23, 2013 at 5:53 am

    Cool to see Samanthas^ story because I recognized where she is at by her shirt, I live near there!

  9. Madison on January 23, 2013 at 8:01 am

    Beautiful and inspirational stories! My inspiration started from a Zumba instructor named Maria Elena. Her love for dance and helping people with their fitness was soooo contagious! She made her participants feel so special and so confident.

  10. Sue on January 23, 2013 at 8:59 am

    I really enjoyed your first post on this topic, and then today’s post. Thanks ladies for sharing. I need to restart my fitness journey. I would love to have a passion. I often think of how much I love Zumba and other dance styles. Dancing was a passion of mine when I was young. Now at 40…I would love to revisit it~, but not sure if I am brave enough to start. Where does one look for group fitness certification? Zumba is through the official Zumba website right?

    Again, Great post~

  11. Irene on January 23, 2013 at 9:24 am

    Wow, this is such a great, inspiring post! I love it. I would one of the coolest things about fitness is how different kinds of workouts can fill different emotional needs in different ways. I started out by running (slowly!) when i suddenly realized I was a little chubby in high school. I kept it up to varying degrees through college because it always seemed like the easiest, most efficient workout and I was always busy. During college I discovered workout classes, particularly dance and kick boxing classes that I loved so much but couldn’t always make work with my schedule. Last fall, 5 years of feeling terrible about myself due to a not super great work environment and the stresses of graduate school had really taken a big toll, and I really felt I needed something just for myself, so I trained for my first (and possibly only) half marathon. It is ridiculous how badly I needed something that just made me feel like I was good and could accomplish something worthwhile during that really dark time! Now that things are a bit better and I don’t know that I’ll be running another half any time soon, but it is nice to know its there if I need the option again.

  12. Sarah @ Yogi in Action on January 23, 2013 at 10:42 am

    I love hearing about other people’s fitness journeys. I also love that every single person has a journey they went through. No one just decides to go to the gym one day and is a perfect runner and then doesn’t do anything different.

    Thanks for sharing the stories!

  13. kari on January 23, 2013 at 11:01 am

    Great stories and thank you for sharing. I was introduce to the gym at a very early age when my Mom use to bring me and my brothers and sisters because they had babysitting at the gym. When i was on the ninth grade my Mom got me a membership at the same gym and I felt in love with weightlifting that I even competed in two Figure Competitions! Im still a member at the same gym and once you start training you body naturally craves it.

  14. Kim on January 23, 2013 at 11:25 am

    Great stories!
    I don’t really have a story – I started running in high school and loved it. I competed in college and I have run ever since. I became certified as a personal trainer when my oldest son was just a few months old. I really didn’t do much other “working-out” (besides running) until I hit my mid-30s. Then, things changed!!! Since then, I’m constantly adding in new programs and exercises. It helps me feel younger!!!

  15. Ash V on January 23, 2013 at 12:31 pm

    I was always a bit of a chubby kid, but when I hit high school, I became about 40 pounds overweight. Since then, I’ve always struggled with my weight. I’ve lost some, and at this point, I have about 15 pounds to go to hit goal. I started the Couch to 5k program because I have so many runner friends, and when I randomly went out with them and could only finish a mile, I wanted to improve. So after the Couch to 5k, I shot for a 10k, and then the crazy kicked in, and I signed up for a half. I LOVED it. I loved accomplishing something I never thought possible. I run about 3x a week, but I’m ready to add some strength training to it, especially to make my legs stronger to improve my running. I don’t do the gym, mostly because I’m a little cheap and the nearest one is 15 minutes away (which isn’t awful, but I like to do my workouts before work, and I don’t think I could handle 30 minutes of travel time and still leave for work by 7:40). Love the inspiration I get from your blog!

  16. Cassie on January 23, 2013 at 4:28 pm

    Love these inspiring stories!

    I started going to the gym in college, after I no longer had high school cheerleading practice to keep me active. I floated between the treadmill and weight room, never knowing that fitness could be fun, and afraid to try group fitness classes. When I moved to a small town to be closer to school, which had a horrible, crowded fitness center, I decided to give a class a try. Ally was my first TurboKick instructor and made me fall in love with the intense format…it combined some of the things I loved about dance – great music and choreography, sweating without realizing it, and fun that doesn’t feel like a workout – with some more intense moves that work muscles differently, like punches, kicks, twists, and zig-zags.

    I was in love! I took TurboKick the remaining two years of college at almost every TKB class on the schedule and looked into being an instructor, but there were no trainings offered in my area. When I moved to CA 6 months later, there were classes everywhere, and I began taking them again, got certified, and have been teaching and loving it every second for almost two years! Getting into TurboKick taught me that working out was fun, and now I also teach BodyPump and attend ballet, yoga, and UJam classes, and just have a general love for fitness and working out in a class or on my own.

  17. Megan on January 24, 2013 at 10:19 am

    How random to run into my (soul) little sister… as I’m checking out one of my fave fitness blogs. Yayyayayayay! Fitnessista is a smarty for featuring you!

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