If you are in need of motivation in your life, head over to Atlanta School of Massage to get your daily dose of positivity and inspiration! The other morning, they welcomed me into their building to talk about their school, and the transformation challenge they are currently having. I knew that I was going to talk with them, and watch them, but I did not know that I would leave with so much motivation, and passion flowing through my veins. Their spirit and energy that they emit is contagious. You can tell that everyone was serious about helping others, becoming healthier, and improving their lifestyles. What amazed me the most was their support system. You can tell that each person is not there just because they have to be; they genuinely want to be there, and want to lift others up around them.
Right now, the school is having a fitness challenge, and I had the opportunity to speak with each group, as well as the Director of the program to learn more about their amazing transformations, breakthroughs & struggles. The four teams I talked with were: #TheBodySnatcher, #AmbitiouzAlphaz,#Fit4Life & #GettinDown. Let’s here what they have to say!
#TheBodySnatcher is made up of personal trainer, Robyn & client, Breanna. Robyn has been a massage therapist for the past thirteen years. She graduated from Atlanta School of Massage and decided that her goal was to not only integrate different aspects of health and wellness like massage, personal training, and juicing but to also help people with multiple sclerosis. She told me, “I want to focus on the health and wellbeing of others. I want to help them live in their optimal life, while also concentrating on helping people with multiple sclerosis in order to build their muscles. No one person is alike which makes it hard, but with multiple sclerosis, there is a lot of depression, muscle imbalance, pain, and different issues with their organs. My prayer is to help people with multiple sclerosis to become stronger by helping them to build their muscles and learn how to maneuver in their weakness. That’s my goal.”
Breanna is an aesthetic student, and has started to fall in love with fitness, getting healthy, and becoming her best self. Breanna told me that one year ago she was serving beer and wings. She completely changed her life when she lost everything, and now instead of serving beer and wings, she is serving health and wellness. “I first had to humble myself because I was so angry and mad. I felt like I had worked so hard to get where I was. I felt like maybe God was telling me that I could do better. I really had to look deep inside myself and see the things I had to change. It hasn’t been easy. It has been a process. Things have been stripped and stripped, like my attitude. To come and be around people that hold you accountable, and push you is great. It’s hard because you thought you were around people before, but to find out that those weren’t good standards that people were holding you to. It’s good, though. To have people that are genuinely there for you, and who want you to succeed. It’s not fake, or phony. My life has completely changed, and it has been all for the better, even though it has been hard. I can’t complain, though because it is way better with less than it was a year ago when I thought I had more.” Breanna’s goal in this competition is weight loss, overall health & to be the best she can be – “This is the year for me to become the best me, and to really just help other people.” The process has made her realize that she is a fighter and can do all things. When I asked Breanna to tell me about what she has learned about herself in the process, she said: “I’m learning more about my strengths everyday and I can push past what I thought I couldn’t do. That’s the beautiful thing about it. I jogged today! My biggest obstacle has been myself. Definitely. I get in my own way. A good majority of my family are overweight. Diabetes, hypertension. My grandmother and dad both died in hospital beds, and I think about stuff like that. I’m here to be the example for my family. I’m here to break the generational curses and to break the things that have hindered us for so long. I don’t want that to be my life. I have great things to do and I can’t do it when I’m unhealthy. They both died under the age of 65. That’s not life. I don’t want that to be me and it’s not going to be me.”
Robyn and Breanna are both certain that they are going to win this challenge. Robyn told me, “It’s not that I think I’m going to win, I’m going to win. I work hard at it, and my goal is to snatch the body. What I mean by #TheBodySnatcher is to snatch all those things away from the person that is not good for them. Whether it is the attitude, emotions, or inches, my goal is to take those things away and help them be a better person. We already know that we are the winners. Outside of the contest, we’re winners. Outside of anything, we’re winners.”
#Fit4Life is made up of personal trainer, Terrance & client, Evelyn. Terrance started personal training because fitness has always been a huge part of his life. He recently retired from the Marine Corps, which requires a lot of exercise, and fitness. He was also an athlete when he was younger, so the training sessions were necessary for him to perform at a high level. He gravitated towards the training sessions, and never looked back.
Evelyn and Terrance have the goal to lose about twenty pounds over the course of this challenge. “My goals for her are to get her to re-connect with her inner spirit as far as getting her mentally prepared for the process to lose weight. That is the biggest thing with fitness – I don’t want my clients to just look at fitness as wanting to lose a certain amount of weight. Instead, I want to build them up and look at the whole journey of fitness and incorporate that into their daily lifestyle.” Evelyn was out of town, so I asked Terrance if she had any obstacles in this process. He told me that from day one she has been great. They had a quick talk, and she has been completely open and receiving to change. He has not had to regress any programming with her because she has been on board since the beginning. Terrance believes that the scale is toxic to weight loss, and fitness as a whole. He thinks that it is a great tool, but it puts on the pressure of just losing a few pounds instead of thinking of fitness as a daily lifestyle. “I want my clients to think of fitness as a range of motion, their mobility. If they have children, to get around with them and not feel the restraints, or feel tired.”
#AmbitiouzAlphaz is made up of personal trainer, Ariana & client, Mariam. Ariana has been in love with fitness since she was about six years old. She would run on the treadmill, and learn to lift weights without learning how to do it from someone else. She has always had a passion for it & loves to give others results. Getting results from others inspires her to do more. She said: “If I know I can incorporate a routine for someone else to reach their goals, I know I can do it for myself. If I can push this person, I know I can push myself to become better than what I am.” Mariam is 50 years old, and decided it was time to take better care of herself now that her youngest is going off to college. She is from New Orleans, so food is “her thing.” Mariam is trying to find healthier ways to eat her favorite meals. For example, if she were to make Shrimp Scampi, she would exchange the butter for olive oil. Throughout this process, her endurance has gone up a lot – now she can do longer workouts, like the plank. Like a lot of us, Mariam says that one of her biggest challenges has been her head. She told me: “Sometimes I think I have a head problem and think I can’t do this, or I’m not strong, and I have realized that I have to get over the mind games & I have to realize that I can do it!” I think this is such awesome determination and inspiration for all of us! When asked what advice they had for others starting on their health journey, Mariam said that it is never too late to make small changes. You have to make them gradually so they will stick more, but to never give up! Ariana said that eating clean is so important because if you are eating junk food, you will never see any changes.
#GettinDown is made up of personal trainer, Travis & client, Alison. Travis has been personal training for about a year. He started because he loves to help people improve their body and mind. “Train with your body and get your mind right.” He told me that before he started training, he was selling security. He realized that it wasn’t his call, and pulled the trigger to go back to school and do what he actually wanted to do. He said: “I spent five years at a university and I bounced around for a few years trying to find something that I liked, but with personal training, it’s something I really enjoy and I do it with a smile. Health is wealth. I think we’ll live a lot longer if we put health and fitness first. The world has made it easy as far as fast food combined with sedentary lifestyle jobs. It makes it hard for your body to get what you need by doing the same thing everyday. People need to put fitness as a priority if you want to live longer.” Travis and Alison came up with their team name because Alison wants to “Get down” the number on the scale. She is married and has two kids who are 10 and 12, and she plays the violin for a living! She originally got into exercise by running once she stopped smoking. She was out one night & decided that she would run a marathon the next year. Alison has tried just about everything when it comes to working out, but this challenge is different because Travis is keeping her accountable. When she joined, they told her that they wanted to challenge her & her response was, “I want to challenge you!” Travis and Alison both told me that both exercise and food need to be a priority, it is a two way street. Alison’s father passed away from cancer, so she is trying to make healthy, organic foods a priority in her life, while eating more produce and cutting out sugars. “My dad passed away from cancer a few years ago, and it has made us re-evaluate life and be happier with what we’ve got. We won’t be here forever.” I really think that everyone could take the advice of being happier with what we already have in life.
Yano Anaya is the Atlanta Personal Trainer Program, Director. I sat down with him for a few minutes & was blown away by how much passion, and knowledge he has about health and fitness. He originally became a personal trainer in 2001 because he found himself very unhealthy. He said that his mother was his biggest influence on starting a healthier way of living for himself. His mother got her masters of nutrition in 1954, and was one of the first female scientists on a team that worked for the government to create Monosodium Glutamate. When she turned 50 years old, she decided to become a body builder and won her first competition that same year. This is one of the seeds she planted in Yano, but it did not hit him until he was already headed down hill. He told me, “Anybody at any age can make that change. You have to allow yourself to make it – the ability to step outside of your comfort zone, and own shifting your lifestyle into a more postitive way. It is adding and taking away habits.”
Making the switch from personal training to educating others on how to become a personal trainer was challenging in the beginning because not only did he have to make sure the students were learning everything they needed to, but he wanted and needed to create an environment where students could let go, humble themselves & allow themselves to learn. He said, “Everyone comes in with a wall of expectations. Once people feel comfortable in the energy that you create, it creates a positive environment where people strive to want to learn.” Yano tries to instill values, and morals into the student population. I truly believe that any school would benefit tremendously from his perspective on teaching and learning. He told me that no matter where you are in your fitness journey, the number one priority should be your internal organs. “If your internal organs are healthy, you have normal cholesterol, your triglycerides are low, you don’t have any thyroid dis-function, your hormone environment is healthy, and that is the epitome of health. People look at others and judge by the cover. It comes from within from being healthy; it is not necessarily what others see. Not every guy has a six-pack. Even a person who has a lean body mass with a six-pack may have cancer. You just don’t know what’s going on internally with somebody. Judging a book by its cover is a false precedent, in my opinion.”