Choosing the fitness industry as my career wasn't a fluke. Through exercise, I was able to love my body for the first time. I decided that I was going to share this transformative experience with as many people as possible. If I could I enjoy getting stronger and seeing the changes in my body, I knew that more people had to have this feeling.
As any normal teenager in high school, I wasn't confident about my body. Playing soccer my entire life kept my body composition in a healthy range but I still didn't like what I saw in the mirror. I always had this little pooch in my stomach that made me extremely self conscious. Growing up in southern California, I spent a lot of time at the beach in a bathing suit. I was embarrassed about my stomach and would buy bathing suits that would cover my extra tummy.
In my second year of high school, I was placed into a dance class to fulfill my final semester of required physical education credits. But this class was about more than learning how to pirouette. During this class, we would spend the first twenty minutes stretching, the next twenty minutes on core exercises and the final portion of class would be devoted to learning dance techniques. Ms. Faeta was a former Lakers cheerleader and made us workout like we were going to hit the court at any time.
You might not expect what I'm going to say next: I hated this class. I would dread going to this every week. The section I disliked the most was the core work. Everyone else in class could keep up with the exercises but I would have to take multiple breaks. I hated feeling so weak.
As the semester was coming to an end, I noticed that my pooch had become smaller. My stomach didn't stick out in my profile anymore. I started to think: "maybe I could actually feel confident in my bikini this summer??" I was also able to take less rest breaks during the core section of class. I finally left like I could keep up with the pack.
It was time to choose electives for the junior year. I debated putting the dance class on my requested elective class list. Did I want to be one of the only people in the upper class who stuck around after the lunch hour to workout? But after feeling the joy of seeing a smaller and tighter midsection, I knew that I had to keep up with the exercises. It wasn't worth leaving school a couple of hours early.
By senior year, I was crushing the core section. I never needed a break and would actually look forward to this portion of class. Ms. Faeta had a collection of pilates videos that we would sometimes do for our core work. The first time I tried the exercises from the video, I could barely keep up again. One movement, called a V-Up, is a pilates staple where you lift your legs and back off the ground to balance on your tailbone in a perfect V. When I tried this exercise, I could only lift my shoulders off the ground and my legs up an inch. But everyone else in the room was in a perfect V. Watching everyone else get into this pose with ease made me feel weak again.
From my experience of getting stronger with the previous core exercises, I knew that if I kept trying the movement, I would get it one day. Later that night, I begged my mom to buy the workout video. Finally, she caved (thanks, Mom!) and I was following along with that 20 minute video three times per week.
After a few months of being consistent, I was able to pop into a perfect V. I was so proud of myself for not giving up and pushing myself to that point. And with all this practice and patience in my core, my stomach had become flatter and more toned. For the first time in my life, I liked the body that I saw in the mirror.
If you had told me on my first day of sophmore year that this PE dance class would give me enormous self confidence both with my body and my mind, I would have said you were insane. How could a mandatory and unwanted class on my schedule have such a profound impact on my life?
That class showed me two things:
1. Exercise can make a significant difference on my happiness with my physique.
2. If I never give up on something, even if it was extremely challenging in the beginning, I will become mentally and physically stronger.
These two lessons have shaped the decisions I've made in my life. I will never be afraid to try something new and completely fail at it. And I will always share the transformative experience of exercise.
Through sharing my story, I hope that you are able to not let challenges defeat you. I also hope that you will stay consistent with your training program because the results are absolutely worth it.
Thank you for reading!