I was a group fitness instructor for 2 years before I became a personal trainer in 2009. It was right at the time of the death of my father. I will never forget it. We had just done another military move so my husband could attend the Naval War College in Newport Rhode, Island. I actually went there kicking and screaming because we had been living on base at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island SC, and I loved my life there. I had a great (and fun) job at our gym and I loved working with all the Marines. I was part of an active cycling group and I loved our house, neighbors, and base community. We arrived in July to Newport and although it was noticeably cooler temperatures, it was still pretty hot with no air conditioning on the military housing base of Fort Adams. I couldn't help but feel a loneliness at first because I missed my old life and being around my friends and the Marines. I will be flat out honest, I did NOT want to move way up north on the East Coast from beautiful South Carolina.
My daughter Kelly Anne turned 5 years old in August and we started to settle in a little more. Kevin, my son, instantly made a ton of friends and it seemed the neighborhood was heavy on boys his age which was such a gift. I decided that I would do the MWR August triathlon on the base that was coming up at the end of the month. This gave me something to look forward to and something to train for for the remainder of the short lived summer in Newport.
I remember race day as if it was yesterday. The water temperature in the bay was about 72 and I didn't have a wetsuit. This was really cold! The bike ride was 16 miles and the run was about 3.5 miles so a little longer than a typical sprint triathlon. I worked super hard that day only to come find out that they only gave awards to the top 3 overall females, and I was 6th overall. I would have won my age group though had that been a category, but nonetheless I was disappointed that there was no reward for my hard work.
About two weeks later on a Sunday morning I awoke to a 5am phone call from my sister telling me that our father had passed away in the middle of the night from a sudden heart attack. This changed everything for me.
The weeks that followed were extremely sad for our family. I was in utter shock that something like this could actually happen to us. Although I didn't see my dad that much, I was devastated for my mom and for our family. It was one of the saddest times in my life that I can remember. I was already feeling overwhelmed and a little depressed that I had to be in Newport, and when this happened it threw me into a deeper depression and I started having major panic attacks. The panic would happen when I was driving my car or just walking around the neighborhood. It hit me fast and furious and I felt as if my life was spiraling out of control. The weather turned very cold and it was one of the snowiest winters in the history of Newport. The kids loved it and I hated it. I wanted to be on my bike and outside in the sun. The NorthEast doesn't have many sunny days and this made it hard for me. The reality of losing my dad hit hard and I had so many feelings of sorrow and guilt. I started going to a therapist because I felt my life was not going well and I was scared of the panic attacks. I was willing to do anything to feel better and get my emotions under control.
I had a job at the gym on base and this is what I think saved me. I was teaching about 5 classes a week to Army, Navy, and Marine Corp personnel. I made some great friends there and this made the winter in Newport bearable. Working out always builds endorphins and serotonin so this was always welcome to my tired brain. To help me get out of my rut, I decided I would take the ACSM Personal Trainer course which was offered in Providence RI. It took me about 4 months to prepare for this and I studied NON-STOP for this test. I was still having panic attacks and feeling like I was just hanging on but I made myself study each day no matter how bad I felt. I set the date that I would be ready to take the test by the end of February.
I will tell you this: my panic attacks were so bad that it made it hard for me to cross the Newport Bridge which leads in and out of the city, so my husband had to drive me to the testing center in Providence, drop me off, and take the kids to the zoo for a few hours while I tested.
Panic came and went throughout the test. My hands were sweaty and it was hard to concentrate but I pushed through. I was in the room for about 2 and a half hours and when it came time to hit the SEND button at the end of the test, I closed my eyes, said a little prayer, and looked up to the screen. PASSED. With a C+. Not a B, a B+, or an A. Just a C+. I was always kind of hard on myself about grades and a C would never have been acceptable to me, but on this day I was THRILLED! It was over and I didn't care and I passed one of the hardest Personal Training Certifications offered.
From there, things got a lot better because I knew we were leaving Newport and Paul received orders back to Parris Island in the same neighborhood where we came from. I had a lot of healing to do and I was looking forward to being back with my friends and being around the Marines again. I looked forward to riding my bike outside again all year long.
This personal training certification has paid off for me. It has added credibility to my career. It has helped me grow as a professional. It has more than paid for itself over time. It has brought some beautiful people into my life and helped me serve and inspire others through fitness. My story isn't perfect and this certification came at one of the hardest times in my life. I believe God was holding my hand throughout the journey and the test, and for that I am truly thankful. Whether this story makes you want to train with me or not, it is the TRUTH and it is part of my history. Getting this certification wasn't easy for me at the time and I often thought I would give up on it. I am glad I stuck it out and persisted. That's what I teach others to do now.