My Personal Story
I’m often asked why I became a health and wellness professional and where I get my motivation to help others transform their own lives. I’ve always had a love of fitness (you can see me pictured here, left, at age 4 with my first boot camp recruit). I participated in cheerleading all through school and even managed my first health club while still in college in Palos Hts., IL, However, my true inspiration for helping others get and stay healthy is my mother, Rene.
My mom (pictured, right) was diagnosed with sarcoma, a rare uterine cancer in her mid-40s and died at age 48. I was 10 at the time, and while I had an amazing mother up until the age of 8, my memories at age 9 and 10 were of watching my mom suffer through cancer. It’s had a lasting impact on me and every day I feel as if she is smiling down on me in the studio as I help women in their quest for better health. I myself had to make the difficult decision to have a complete hysterectomy in my early 30s. It is so important that all women get regular physicals and that we do everything possible to stay healthy. I’m happy to say that I am healthier now than I have ever been. I continue to credit my lovely mother with motivating me to live a mindful, healthy life and be all that I can be. In the June 2017 edition of Glancer Magazine I credit my mother as my main inspiration to this day.
My love of fitness began with my mother, who put me into ballet at age 3 and I danced ballet until she became too ill to take me to practices. Once I was in 6th grade, I became a cheerleader and continued to cheer through my college years. There weren’t a lot of options for girls to play sports like they have now. But I always enjoyed exercise and even wrote a health and fitness column for my college newspaper.
I still fondly recall bike rides with my mom as a little girl. These are some of my happiest memories. I am still a cycling enthusiast and ride as often as possible.
Never underestimate the impact your fitness interests and activities will have on your own children and grandchildren. Not only are you helping insure you will live a long, healthy life and not be a burden for them to care for as you age, but you will have a greater quality of life with your family well into your golden years.
It’s never too late to start caring for yourself. I am now certified through IWA as a Senior Strength Trainer or CSST. Even losing 10 pounds can significantly help protect your joints and no matter what age, strength training should be a component of your fitness program. Once you get the energy and body movement that comes from exercising, you will want to keep going, especially if you have help from a personal trainer to succeed. You will be amazed how your quest for health will influence all of those around you.
I’m often asked how I came to practice and teach yoga. Yoga was a beautiful discovery to me in my late 30s. I came to yoga to deal with problems associated with my being born with clubbed feet. As I became middle-aged, I developed significant foot pain and took up yoga to help relieve it.
I always tell my yoga students that if they ever feel they can’t do yoga, realize that because of my feet it took me over a year to do Tree Pose! Doctors now marvel at what my feet can do; they thought I should have had multiple surgeries years ago. Thanks to yoga I’ve never needed surgery and more than two decades later I have no foot pain!
As we age, our health and wellness should take even more precedence. My passion to work with others has transitioned into helping older adults live healthier lives. No matter where you are on the fitness spectrum, you can improve, even if your body requires Sun breaths in a chair and meditation for healing. Until I discovered a personal practice, I had no idea that yoga could help me with so many challenges in life, both personally and physically. As the months went on, I found it gave me what I needed, greater calm on stressful days, energy on days I felt dull, and confidence when I needed it. But it has helped me to get through changes in my body that come with age with grace and resolve to embrace each moment. These senior citizens are learning balance and exercise with Therabands for better posture which you can see visibly as you can their lovely smiles during one of my classes with them at Wayne Township Senior Center. I am now serving as an Intern for the Center as I am nearing completion of my Activity Director certification.
That’s true of fitness as well. Exercise has important elements for all phases of a person’s life and releases chemicals into the bloodstream that bring you a sense of well-being and contentment. Taking time to be aware of what’s happening in your life, in your body, and with your emotions is the key to getting the most from what fitness and yoga can offer you every day. I encourage you to make a commitment to fitness now, while you are motivated to action—your inner self knows best! God gives us one body, and it’s our responsibility to care for it properly.