Leslie Sandoz Healy wove international intrigue with a dance routine to Herb Alpert’s “Rise” to land her first legitimate job in the fitness industry.

She graduated from the University of Maryland in 1982 following a semester abroad in London, where she had taken the initiative to lead an exercise dance class for some of her schoolmates. “My sister told me to bring a tape over and lead some exercise classes. I took my cassette of ‘Rise’ and put together a routine,” she recalls.

Upon her return stateside, she included the international experience on her resume. One potential employer was so impressed by Leslie’s description of teaching classes in London that she hired her on the spot. “It didn’t occur to me then how worldly that sounded,” Healy said. “It taught me something important that I’ve carried with me my whole career—that enthusiasm and passion for what you do shapes initiative and leadership. I simply wanted to teach a dance exercise class, but doing it ended up helping me get a good job in one of the top clubs in the Washington, DC-Maryland area.”

Healy transitioned her irrepressible energy into personal training around 1989, eventually opening her own business, Fitness Firm Inc., in 1993. While she always enjoyed teaching group classes, she recognized that at-home personal training afforded her the more sophisticated challenge of meeting client goals on their own terms. “Getting in shape does not mean simply going to the gym. There is so much more, and I love exploring,” she said. “I really enjoy the notion that personal training allows for specific and practical application to a client’s unique circumstances. For example: My client with multiple sclerosis has balance and stability concerns, whereas another client is concerned with avoiding osteoporosis and back pain. Each client brings new dynamics to the individual nature of fitness.”

As for the future, Healy plans to develop her interests in preventive health, personal coaching, and training for special populations. Since the early 1990s, her volunteer work for the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC, has immersed her in an atmosphere of health research and education. In January she began serving as president of the Child Health Center Board for the medical center and this year plans to continue the health promotion initiative “Healthy Kids 2002,” which she helped launch in 2000. Healy says that “Keeping the Well Child Well,” which is the Child Health Center Board motto, and her personal training career both provide a forum for meeting the challenges of fundamental preventive health care: good nutrition and regular exercise.

Reflecting on her career in fitness and personal training triggers a look at the big picture for Healy. “Fitness has evolved from jumping jacks to consideration of the whole person—physical, spiritual, intellectual and emotional. If we are to continue to mature in this industry, we must continue along this path of research and education in the totality of human health and well being.”

IDEA PERSONAL Trainer February 2002