My fitness journey began the summer before 1st grade. I naturally idolized my older brother, so when he joined Taekwondo so did I. I was a tiny 6-year old girl but in my brain I was a tough ninja who could take on the world.
Taekwondo incorporated many aspects of fitness. Every class began with a standard warm-up, we ran around the room, did jumping jacks and push-ups as a group while counting our reps in Korean. Next we would do a series of stretches, from neck down, emphasizing the splits to finalize our warm up. This part of the warm up was probably just as competitive as the sparring. It was always a contest who could hold the splits the longest and what males could keep from cringing. I vividly remember the class doing butterfly stretches and the instructor would call out to the smallest kids in class to stand up and go around to the adults and stand on their knees as a way to increase the stretch. Although Taekwondo was an individual sport it felt like a team. Everyone supported one another, the higher ranks were always guiding the lower ranks and there was constant feedback and encouragement. I continued this sport from age 6 to age 12 and loved every minute of it. I received my junior black belt at age 11 and won 2nd place at nationals in sparring when I was in fourth grade. I broke many boards and competed in many tournaments. This sport taught me so many lessons in life and had a huge IMPACT on my fundamental values that have lasted my whole life. Taekwondo taught me discipline, as well as the Taekwondo commandments that we had to memorize “courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self control, indomitable spirit, SIR.” Yes, also taught me manners having to end everything I ever said with “sir” or “ma’am.” During these same developmental years that I was learning sidekicks and high-blocks I was learning how to downhill ski and ice-skate. Skiing was never fun for me because I hated the cold but growing up in Breckenridge Colorado my parents insisted I take advantage of it and learn how. Throughout elementary school I also loved gym class because I had a natural speed and was always last in tag and even though I didn’t enjoy running the mile I always got the best female mile run times.
Once I hit middle school I out grew Taekwondo and decided to try basketball and soccer to harness that speed. Unfortunately the hand and foot coordination I learned in martial arts did not transfer over to ball handling skills. I played forward and goalie in soccer. I was mediocre at best but that didn’t stop me from playing on the team with my friends. As I matured into high school my ball skills did not improve and my teen hormones led me to rebel against a few of my soccer coaches. I quit junior varsity soccer 2 years in a row. My parents supported my decision as they always did, and helped me find alternative exercise. Being the weekend warriors they were, I often went hiking and cross country skiing but similar to downhill skiing these activities seemed forced and I only partook when obligated.
I was 17 when I finally found exercise I enjoyed again. My mother worked at a state-of-the-art recreation center that had indoor tennis, basketball, racquetball, a track course and a swimming pool equipped with a slide, yet what appealed to me was the weight room. I got set up with a personal trainer and fell in love with lifting. Lori was my trainer and she taught me fundamentals of training as well as gave me routines I could do on my own. Despite Lori’s knowledge and persuasion to get me into cardio I was stubborn about getting on any type of cardio machine. The idea of walking, running, hiking in one place indoors seemed ridiculous to me and I absolutely refused to give it a try. The lifting was completely different; I felt that same monster toughness I did as the 6-year old starting martial arts. It didn’t feel like work it but felt like fun and I quickly saw an increase in strength. This was a great time in my life to become intrinsically motivated. The power of being able to workout on my own enhanced my confidence and independence as I was leaving high school soon about to embrace the world on my own. I was religiously training twice a week all throughout my senior year of high school.
I graduated high school a year early and my fitness took a downhill turn. There were 6 months before I turned 18 and between travel, boredom and death of my grandmother I put on a solid 15 pounds. It didn’t help that I was working in a cookie shop and a local brewery. I had lost my motivation and fell into a rut of poor diet and no exercise. I kept telling myself that I would get back to the gym but I had outgrown my hometown I said I would get back into it once I moved to Denver and started massage school.
Luckily I did just that. The gym I joined while I was in massage school was not the fancy one I was so familiar with at home. It was very intimidating because the machines were different and the set up was sloppy. I decided to seek out a trainer at the new gym. Her name was Alyse, and she was no Lori. She led me through the movements but lacked enthusiasm or creativity. The good news was that I was getting to the gym again. During my training with Alyse I lost 5 of the 15 pounds I had gained. Still I wasn’t satisfied with this and I sought out a nutritionist. With a masters degree in kinesiology, Catherine changed my life. Finally someone was able to break through my thick skull and convince me to get on a cardio machine. The magic was in creating a formula for me. Catherine made me buy a heart rate monitor and, through zone training, was able to show me that cardio exercises didn’t have to feel like death. See, I had always felt that running long distances or exceeding sprints made me feel like I was choking for air. Soccer practice conditioning always included sprinting drills at max capacity so I thought all cardio had to feel that miserable. Catherine taught me that I could exercise at 55%-65% of my max heart rate and still see results. I lost that extra 10 pounds and started a new routine of 3 hours of cardio a week and 2 training sessions. This continued for the 2 years I attended massage school. I saw Catherine 2x a year to check in, ask any lingering questions and take measurements. Body and mind combined, it was the best I had ever felt.
I moved to Santa Monica in 2004 to start college. I continued my gym routine and I was happily obsessed with the stair stepper and the elliptical. Eventually some variety entered my life. Since my major at Santa Monica College was kinesiology I had to take a multitude of fitness classes for credit, starting with mat Pilates and Yoga. Being introduced to these modalities in a college environment was excellent because every move was broken down into names of muscles and the purpose of each position was explained in detail. The classroom environment also gave me back the camaraderie of exercise I had been missing since soccer and Taekwondo. A few other classes I pathetically tried were ballet and African dance. I say pathetically because I was horrible at both. I didn’t have the patience or perfection, or any skill for that matter for ballet, and I dreaded that class. As for African Dance, well I just plain lacked the rhythm or the ear for the drumbeat. In African dance the next set of dance moves change at the sound of a certain drum beat, needless to say I was always behind a step, or two……or three. I can honestly say that African dance was the hardest exercise I have ever participated in, as well as humbling because I almost failed. Other exercise classes I attended in college were aerobics, which I loved, until I tore my MCL doing a fancy “round the world” move. Conveniently, this happened at the end of the semester and the next fitness class I took was an aqua aerobics class, so I used it as rehab for my knee. The last notable fitness class that signified a breakthrough in my fitness journey was a circuit style fitness class. The key being we had to run the mile and track our times. Even though I said I always had fast times as a child, I still hated doing it. This time I was an adult and was able to push though my stubbornness. There is a key phrase I started during that class that motivates me to this day during my workouts. or _________ reps”. Every time I ran I repeated “You can do anything for ____ minutes” (in this case I entered the number 8). Sure enough my time got faster and faster with my personal best being 7:07. It was also this time in my life I started working out outdoors again; I got a long board and a beach cruiser and started taking advantage of southern California’s perfect weather. I even enjoyed hiking again.
The problem was that despite all the various types of exercise I was participating in, I gained that pesky 10 pounds back. The problem was my diet. Man this girl loves to eat! I ate out all the time, and didn’t hold back on appetizers, main courses, desserts or booze. I wasn’t unhappy with my body because I was so happy in life so I continued these habits of good exercise and poor eating habits. This changed when I was inspired to get my butt back in gear because of my anatomy class. Without sharing too many details, let’s just say that I got a closer look at what “fat” looks like and I didn’t like it one bit. I referred back to Catherine’s heart rate training formula and got back on the elliptical 5 days a weak as well as cut back on my food urges and lost 10 pounds in 2 months. After all I couldn’t transfer to San Diego State’s kinesiology program and be out of shape.
It’s been 6 ½ years since I moved to San Diego. In that time I received my Bachelors of Science degree in Health Fitness and Nutrition and joined the Fitness Quest 10 team as a massage therapist. I pursued kinesiology with the intention of becoming a trainer in addition to my already successful career in massage. I started FQ10 in the last months of my schooling and found the perfect median of working in the gym environment doing what drives my soul as a therapist and at the same time being surrounded by fitness. I found my niche. I now train with a few of the amazing trainers at Fitness Quest 10, and partake in group classes as well as continue to bike, skate and hike. My nutrition is an ongoing battle fighting off burritos and cookies but I now have the knowledge and power to take control. All my experiences from Taekwondo, zone training and my kinesiology degree have landed me in beautiful happy place in my fitness journey. I acknowledge it is an on going journey and can’t wait for further fitness inspiration.
There is a well-organized medical service with all necessary equipment. SCOTT & WHITE HOSPITAL- COLLEGE STATION.