Client: Karen Gischlar

Personal Trainer: Julie Kaminski, MA

Location: New Jersey

Finding safe, effective and sustainable ways to reach out to clients has never been more of a challenge. It’s also never been more important. We’re focused on health and well-being in some brand-new ways but with some brand-new roadblocks.

National board certified health & wellness coach Julie Kaminski, MA, and her client, Karen, were already set up for success before the COVID-19 crisis, and they have continued their work throughout 2020. Their story illustrates how it’s possible to reap rewards even when coaching happens from a distance.

A Unique Approach to a Common Request

“When we started our work together, Karen’s goal was to lose weight,” says Kaminsky, who is also a personal trainer, group instructor and counseling psychologist. You’ve heard that goal before. What Kaminsky adds is the health and wellness coach angle. “As part of initial sessions with clients, I ask about all the elements of health (activity, nutrition, stress management, spiritual refueling, medical considerations) and happiness (relationships, engagement, meaning, achievement and experiences of positive emotion),” explains Kaminsky. “Often an underlying theme emerges that, when attended to, results in transformational change.”

Karen’s transformation began as she realized the impact of her own negative self-talk and self-sabotage. “Over the course of our work together, we attended to the negative voice,” says Kaminsky. “In addition, we explored exercise she enjoyed, which became a robust walking program.” Karen became a participant in Kaminsky’s Walking Book Club, a free online community where participants listen to books as they walk and then share their experiences through social media.

A Lifesaving Tool

Kaminsky describes her coaching process as creating “a personalized symbolic toolbox of strategies for healthier eating behaviors.” Those tools helped Karen lose weight, quiet the negative internal voice and maintain regular exercise.

This process also empowered her to attend to her medical needs. In October 2016, Karen went for an overdue mammogram. On October 11, she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer and, within weeks, had a double mastectomy, chemo and, later, two reconstructive surgeries. Through it all, their work together continued. “I’m happy to report that Karen is back walking regularly, using tools from her symbolic toolbox, and healthy,” says Kaminsky.

Walking the Talk

For clients like Karen, The Walking Book Club has become especially important in the days of social distancing. It’s also a way to maintain contact and support. “[It’s] my attempt at giving virtual hugs and high-fives and to inspire love. Yes, I know, kinda hokey—but true,” Kaminsky says, smiling. And it certainly brings her message of Healthy-Body Happy-Mind to life. She knows that making wellness changes is “challenging on a good day, let alone [when we face] what we face presently. My hope is that The Walking Book Club provides a touch point, gentle reminders, a source of inspiration, connection to others, and a little accountability.”

Kaminsky stresses that everyone’s journey is different. “The goal of my work is to help clients find what works for them [for their lifelong health]. Karen found her recipe and recreated it more than once over the course of our work together. Gone is the pressure to please everyone else while sacrificing her own health and happiness. It was my honor to be able to be a part of transformational change. She is an inspiration.”

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.