An Attitude of Gratitude
Creating a safe space gives this trainer's clients a lot to be thankful for.
E. Faith Bell with her exercise class, Peace on the Move (POTM).
CLIENT: Cynthia Walker
PERSONAL TRAINER: E. Faith Bell, Peace on the Move and Fit with Faith
LOCATION: Washington, D.C.
Cynthia Walker was struggling. Although she’d been trying to lose weight for years, it just seemed like the odds were stacked against her.
“At age 42, she had a TIA (transient ischemic attack) along with high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels,” says trainer E. Faith Bell. “Then, 11 years ago, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. At 4 feet 9 inches tall, she weighed 176 pounds.”
Yes, Cynthia had challenges. But she also had goals. When she started working with Bell, she wanted to lose 36 pounds, be physically fit and stop taking blood pressure medication by age 70.
That was in 2017, and Bell—an experienced personal trainer and group fitness leader—had just become the primary instructor for the Peace on the Move (POTM) exercise class, part of Peace Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. She knew she could help Cynthia. She had, well, . . . faith.
The Whole Truth
“My approach to any client during assessment is to review impacts to the whole person,” says Bell, explaining that Cynthia (pictured right) had “competing factions.” In addition to her health issues, she had a high-pressure job, no time for the gym and a never-ending supply of food available at her desk. And there was this positive discovery: Cynthia had “the need for a consistent, dependable sense of community.”
Bell’s holistic approach made all the difference for Cynthia. “I have participated in other fitness programs that just focus on your physical well-being,” she says. “But there are other areas of our being that need help, too. ‘First Lady,’ as we call her, has been on a mission to inform, build and help maintain the health of the congregation and community, not just spiritually but physically and mentally.”
A Safe Space to Succeed
Cynthia’s mission included plenty of hard work. “We used full-body workouts concentrating on functional and core regimes,” Bell says (left). “Alternating sessions ranged from endurance (cardio dance/stepping aerobic and anaerobic) to strength (weight-bearing, specifically including body weight) to functional (stretching, flexibility). I also introduced plant-based and healthy meal alternatives, bringing in experts as needed.
“But even more important was to ensure Cynthia realized she had a safe space of accountability. I get excited about our opportunity as trained professionals to create safe health and fitness spaces. With POTM, I genuinely call it ‘Thanksgiving Space’: thankful for life where they are and giving themselves permission to move where they can be!”
In addition to her POTM workouts, Cynthia added one-on-one workouts (from Bell’s Fit with Faith business) and took advantage of her trainer’s video conferencing services.
Bell’s inclusive approach of evidence-based fitness and faith-guided support produces results—and gratitude from her clients. “Since working out with POTM, I have lost 25 pounds,” says Cynthia. “I am continuing to grow stronger physically and spiritually, confident in who I am on my life journey.”
What’s Your Story?
Do you have a client who has overcome the odds to achieve new heights in health and fitness? Send your story to [email protected], and you and your client may be featured in an upcoming issue of Fitness Journal.