Inspiration Works Both Ways

Apr 01, 2008

Since introducing the Inspire the World to Fitness® initiative in 2003, IDEA members have sent in numerous motivational accounts of how they’ve helped bring about positive change in others. Whether they trained a former nonexerciser to run a marathon or modified a class so that a disabled person could safely participate, the result has been a happier outlook. The following stories show the range of care involved in being a fitness professional dedicated to inspiring the world to fitness.

A Life Commitment

“One of my clients, Vicki, is the ‘poster child’ for weight loss, exercise and healthier eating. I rarely, if ever, have to lift her spirits or build up her motivation. The first time I met with her I knew she was going to succeed because she had such a positive attitude. She was ready to commit to the time and make the sacrifices. In short, she was ready to get healthy. I feel like I should be paying her, instead of her paying me!

“Her weight loss goal wasn’t purely to look good (although that came with the package); she wanted to lose weight in order to feel good and be healthy. She also wanted to be strong. When I asked her why she wanted to lose weight, she said she ‘wanted to be able to handle the ocean waves when I’m 70.’ Vicki travels to the ocean often and on her last vacation she took along her elderly mother, who was nearly knocked over by a wave. It was all Vicki could do to help her mother out of the water. Vicki’s overall mindset is ‘this isn’t a one-time thing—it’s a lifestyle I need to follow forever.’ I am so proud of Vicki, and I love to show her off to the other ladies who work out at the facility.”

— Mandi Wong, Kansas City, Missouri

Slow and Steady

“I am a 55-year-old personal trainer and group fitness instructor. I specialize in the ‘over 40’ crowd who struggle to stay fit while leading real lives. Most of my clients and participants have been with me for years. I inspire them by leading a life similar to theirs (e.g., work, home, children, etc.) while becoming more fit every year. I remind them that we all must begin somewhere, and it is important to work slowly, carefully and steadily. It took a lot of years for some of them to get out of shape and away from good health, so patience and time will bring them back.

“I tell my clients and participants that there are no quick, overnight miracles, just safe, hard work and dedication. My program espouses ‘all things in moderation’ and no unhealthy tricks. My classes are all interval training, cardio and weights. If clients want to change their bodies, they must not be afraid of strength training. My clients and participants serve as my biggest motivation.”

— Laurie Goldsmith Sperandio, Irvington, New York

Genuine Appreciation

“One of my first clients was a 58-year-old man with Parkinson’s disease who hadn’t exercised in many years. Symptoms of Parkinson’s include tremors, forward-leaning posture, rigid inflexibility and poor balance. Harry exhibited all of these symptoms but was very strong and functional despite his disability. His balance, however, was so poor that he could not stand on one foot for more than a second, and he was so inflexible that he could not lift his hand off the floor while lying prone with his arms extended.

“My plan for Harry is to focus on balance and flexibility while doing functional exercises to help him strengthen his golf game. Our typical workout starts with slow static warm-up exercises (for example, standing on one foot while balancing a ball or a dumbbell). We gradually increase intensity and sometimes even do athletic strides or lunges. We cool down every session with Pilates mat exercises and proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) stretches.

“We work together two or three times per week, and Harry’s progress has been inspiring. His balance has improved incredibly, and he literally stands taller due to a constant emphasis on posture. His flexibility has improved, and he even reports his golf game has gotten better! The most inspiring thing about him, however, is his positive demeanor and genuine appreciation for fitness.”

— Steve Lucas, Lake Zurich, Illinois

Inspiration Three Ways

“I have been in the fitness industry for 25 years and have been so blessed to have incredible clients and students. It would be hard to pick just one—so here are three!

“Zana is amazing. She has had a hip replacement and is in her 60s. She comes to my indoor cycling and core-conditioning classes and she never cancels. No matter what her day has been like—even when she just gets back from vacation—she is always here with a positive, energetic attitude. She really is my inspiration and the reason I do what I do.

“Karen is a business owner who travels a lot but has never once canceled or complained. She is the most positive person I know. Through injuries and stress, she is always here and wants to be challenged.

“Andrea is so focused, determined and positive. She does it all and is always in the moment. She works full-time and travels often but always takes time for herself.

“These people are my inspiration! On days when I feel tired or down, they bring me up, they are there for me and they are the blessings and gifts in my life.”

— Connie Morrill, Long Beach, California

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