“Everyone is staring at me,” I thought as I slowly pounded my way around the track.

My hips and ankles hurt, and my knees felt very uncomfortable. Looking around, there were new moms with strollers, kids playing football on the turf inside the track, and a guy who ran five miles every day, lapping me multiple times and always making sure to say “Hi” and smile. 

In the beginning, it seemed like everyone was more confident, thinner, and more fit than me. I was convinced they were all pitying me walking around the track, struggling to keep a steady pace and breathing hard enough to hear myself over the music coming from my headphones. “They can probably hear me breathing too.” 

But I kept walking, kept moving. Every day. In the rain. In the freezing cold. I walked and walked until I could finally one day run from one fence post to the next. Then I could run the turns of the track, and walk the rest. 

My first celebration on the track was the day I ran a whole lap around the track without stopping. But the biggest, most memorable day was the day I ran a mile. I DID IT!!!! And as it turns out, people WERE watching! Five mile guy ran up to give me a high five! 

So what did I do to celebrate this accomplishment? I did what anyone else would do (right?)…I bought myself a cake! But this time, I didn’t have a piece for every meal until it was gone. I had my serving, and I WALKED AWAY FROM IT. That was the day I knew I would succeed in my fitness journey.

The Science Behind Fitness

You see, weight loss and fitness is much more than “eat less, move more” and I made it my mission to find the real answers. In 2012, I had no idea which foods to eat, how much cardio to do, or even how to warm up properly.

Like any newly obsessed researcher, I dove head first off the deep end into an exciting but unsustainable lifestyle. I spent all of my time researching nutrition, taking classes, reading articles, running, and doing the Insanity program. It didn’t take long for me to crash and burn.

This led me down the rabbit hole of researching exercise, how the body reacts, and what the best plans are for lasting weight loss (my goal at the time). As it turns out, you don’t have to kill yourself for hours a day to get results, there is a better way! Once I realized this, my perspective changed. I knew I wanted to help others realize this too. 

The very first group fitness class I taught was called TurboKick, a cardio kickboxing class. And after that first class, I knew I had found my passion. Since then I’ve taught: 

  • Senior conditioning classes
  • Kids’ conditioning classes
  • Athletic conditioning
  • Dynamic functional fitness classes
  • PiYo
  • Insanity
  • HIIT-style classes
  • Dynamic functional fitness classes
  • Fast-paced cardio and strength training classes

But that wasn’t enough. I needed to work one-on-one, to go deeper with people, helping them get to their goals. This inspired me to become a personal trainer.

Personal Training Journey

As a new trainer, I was convinced I would be working with mostly weight loss clients, but boy, was I wrong! 

I saw clients of all kinds ranging from those who needed corrective exercise, some looking to build strength, some needing focus on balance. Others wanted to lift big weights, and some just wanted enough training to be confident using gym equipment. 

Some had time-specific goals, like training for an obstacle race or long-distance marathon. Some wanted more endurance, and some wanted to get better and stronger for a sport or activity they were already involved in. 

One thing I learned is that no body is perfect.

Everyone can use a trainer and even a trainer needs a trainer. Our bodies have so much potential, however, many of us hesitate to push ourselves because of a valid fear of injury and a lot of self doubt. 

Anyone can go into a gym and use the machines. The problem is that, without knowing how to safely and effectively activate the proper muscle groups, injury can happen fast. With a trainer, we can ensure that we are not only being safe about how we exercise, but following the best program to meet our goals.

Being a trainer means I get to watch my clients start to feel better, get stronger, perform better on the field or court, and achieve the physique they have been after! The best part of it is that I am given the opportunity to get PERSONAL with my clients.

We dig deep and grind together to get what they want out of training. 

Tabitha McDonald