Every so often, I’m going to incorporate stories of friends and colleagues and whoever wants to be included to share on the blog. While I like to think my own 100-pound weight loss can be inspiring to many, it’s so important to hear from different voices, as everyone faces unique obstacles and challenges throughout their lives.
I met my friend Shonna working at my current gym where I do personal training. She is a group exercise instructor of several different classes- hello Zumba and strength training- a passionate exerciser, and has a great fitness backstory she agreed to share.
Thank you, Shonna, for visiting GMMCA!
When did you start exercising? Why? What did you do?
I remember doing tapes and television workouts when I was a little kid (Mousercise and Sweating to the Oldies were my favorites). I played sports a little and took dance lessons, but it was all pretty casual. After high school, I would join a gym and maybe walk on the treadmill or use the elliptical and machines, but I didn’t really have a plan or know what I was doing. I got way more into fitness around 2005 when I worked in the corporate world with a team that was really physically fit. We had a gym in our building and after a lot of convincing, I went to my first Spin class with my coworkers. I was surprised to see that it wasn’t scary at all! From there, I started running, worked with a trainer, and went to more classes. In 2007, I became a Spin instructor and after being laid off from that corporate job, learned to teach more classes.
How has your routine and philosophy changed over the years?
I’ve become more comfortable with taking risks and trying new things! I really feel like you need to step out of your comfort zone because you never know how much you can do. I’ve also learned that while I love teaching, I need to set aside time for my own personal workouts and goals.
What does healthy living mean to you?
It’s an investment in my future. I have been through some health scares that were out of my control. I want to be in control of everything I can to keep myself mobile and healthy and living a full life for as long as possible!
Are their any words of advice you’d offer to your younger self starting out on your journey?
Don’t be afraid! The gym, classes, trainers, running groups… they are not as scary as you think. You just need to find what works for you. I feel like some classes or organizations really have a bad reputation, but we are honestly here to help you. I know I try to make my classes as welcoming as possible for all levels and most instructors I know do the same. We all started somewhere!
What inspired you to become a fitness instructor? What do you love/hate most about it?
I was taking Spin twice a week in the gym at my office. They were looking for another instructor and I figured I was going anyhow, might be some good extra money.
I love seeing people achieve things they didn’t think they could. That could be anything from getting in the door in the first place to lifting a heavier weight than they thought possible.
I don’t really hate anything about it in general- but I don’t love when people come in with a closed mind or a negative attitude. It doesn’t happen that often, though!
Do you have any words of wisdom for someone starting out?
Find something you love to do and it won’t be a chore! If you are a social person, go to a class or join a group. If you like to keep to yourself, find a trainer to design a program just for you.
What’s your favorite exercise?
Right now, I love my CrossFit class because it’s different every day. I’m really lucky to have excellent coaches and a dedicated class full of really supportive people at many levels.
You only have half an hour to exercise, what do you do?
Ah! Some HIIT training! A good mix of cardio and strength.
What are you most proud of in regards to your health journey?
I’ve been up and down in weight over the years. Right now, I’m up more than I would like, but I still get out there and work hard. Sometimes I don’t give myself enough credit for that.
What are some challenges you’ve faced over the years?
It’s always the “diet” for me. I got to my goal weight in 2012 and was a vegan. It worked so well for me until I suddenly started experiencing some frustrating things like gaining back weight and feeling exhausted all of the time. The next year, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s and later with thyroid cancer. After a complete thryoidectomy and radioactive iodine treatment (and a full recovery!!!) the vegan diet didn’t work for me anymore. I’m still struggling to figure out what works for me after all of this.
Any healthy eating tips you want to share?
It’s not a one size fits all situation! I feel like the one thing we can all agree on is eat whole foods as much as possible, but after that, it’s so individual!