Fabiana Pereira Pessoa Dorea

Tell me a little about yourself and your background?

I’m the youngest of 2 and had a wonderful, active life whilst growing up in Brazil. Sports, fitness and nutrition were always a part of my life. I’m very outgoing and competitive and that lead to my interest in practicing group sports such as volleyball, basketball and soccer, but my real passion was modern dance.

Prior to pursuing my LLM degree in London in 2010, I graduated and worked as a lawyer in Brazil.My first impression when I arrived in London was how unhealthy people seemed to be in general, but specifically in the corporate environment. Not only were people living under pressure and stress, but literally digging their graves with their knives and forks. The thing is, in 2010 the awareness around wellbeing and having a healthy lifestyle was almost non-existent.

I started by slowly introducing changes around the office and showing my colleagues new ideas of easy and quick recipes (since lack of time is one of the biggest excuses for corporate people). For example, Fridays was treat day, so instead of bringing doughnuts, cakes, chocolate, which would be the norm, I would bring a flourless cinnamon banana cake. Slowly they bought the idea and further down the line I was giving them diet and exercise plans. One of my colleagues lost 15 kg!

With time I decided to create an Instagram account with my exercise and diet tips to serve as a source of motivation for those interested in taking on this lifestyle. I wanted to show that lack of time is not an excuse and if I could find time so could anyone else! After all, I am a full-time lawyer in a career transition, living by myself and undergoing a diploma as a Transformational life coach, having 10 coaches under my belt and still finding time to hit the gym and feed my social media! PHEW!

Having found purpose and meaning in helping people achieve their personal best in any area of their lives, I’m now at the turning point of putting aside my 10 years of corporate experience to dedicate myself exclusively and entirely to Life Coaching.

What aspect of fitness do you enjoy the most?

As Cliché as it may sound, fitness for me is a lifestyle. It’s such a natural part of my being that I don’t really think about it. It’s more than a habit. For me it’s a moment of joy, it’s that one hour that I present myself daily to take care of my physical body, to take care of my soul (through yoga and meditation), to treat my body with love and respect by feeding it right, to feel energetically, emotionally and physically healthy and balanced. Everyday I make this conscious choice: I wake up, I meditate, I crack on with my day, I feed my body correctly and I listen to it and then I present myself with one hour of exercise, meditation, yoga and even a massage if that’s what I need!

How long have you been into fitness and how did you get into fitness?

Fitness has always been a part of my life. I started sports at an early age (swimming when I was 4). I was severely injured at the age of 18 which really took its toll on me. I was unable to pursue my true passion of modern dancing. I had to give my body time to heal which was hard due to my active lifestyle and this led me to a new passion which is hitting the gym.

What was a turning point for you to take it seriously?

Since I was involved in competitive sports and activities, I always took it seriously but at the same time in a very fun and joyful way. However, when I was 16, I went to Australia as an exchange student for 1 year. During this year I completely neglected my body by not exercising and comfort eating. As a result I gained weight, felt emotionally drained, my self image and confidence were destroyed and I felt trapped on a vicious cycle: the more I felt bad about myself, the more I resorted to comfort food and binge eating.

When I returned to Brazil, I decided to put my life back on track and promised myself I wouldn’t revisit that dark space ever again.

How has fitness impacted your life?

Fitness and sports in general had and has a huge impact in my life. Being part of a team taught me the importance of never underestimating the adversary, the importance of discipline and respect to yourself and others.

Being a ballerina taught me about commitment and self-discipline. It taught me to listen to my body and go beyond my self-imposed ‘limitations’. It taught me that I could achieve anything I set myself for and that when body and mind works together, the sky is not the limit anymore!

Today fitness for me is a self-love practice. It’s a way I find to be kind to myself, to nurture, thank my body, my mind and my soul.

I say it to myself mentally: Thank you for being healthy and full of energy, for baring those 10 hours looking at a computer screen, now I will reward you, what is it that you feel like doing today’? As crazy as it may seem, it works, well at least for me!

What words of advice or encouragement would you like to give to someone who is just starting out or would like to start but doesn’t know where to begin?

Every journey starts with a single step. Don’t wait until you have a better understanding about fitness, don’t wait for advices and don’t wait for tomorrow, just start. Put your trainers on and go for a walk, join the gym or start by taking some classes or just turn the music up and start moving your body! Whatever your fitness level is, there’s always something for you!

Don’t compare yourself to others. We all have our own path and story. Be the author of your life. What’s YOUR story?

Associate fitness with something fun and joyful, not an obligation or chore. Start by implementing small changes in your routine. For example, instead of taking the bus to the supermarket, try walking. Something is better than nothing and I guarantee that once you start seeing the benefits of doing something truly for yourself, you will realise that nothing is as painful as staying stuck somewhere you don’t belong.

Instagram: @fabi_dorea

(W)holistic coach and Corporate lawyer

Rachel Richardson

Tell me a little about yourself and your background?

I am 21 years old, an early college grad with my bachelors in Kinesiology and Nutrition. I am currently applying to careers with a hopeful future in law enforcement. I am also a National bikini competitor and I have competed in and placed at 8 shows since 2015.

What aspect of fitness do you enjoy the most?

I love being able to help motivate others through my fitness journey. I love showing others that it’s okay to do fitness in any form and it doesn’t have to be the only part of your life you focus on!

How long have you been into fitness?

I was always in and out of the gym. I was in karate from 5-16 years old and earned my black belt at 13. I became more serious with my diet and the nutrition component in August 2014, along with more adherence to the gym (6 days a week). I would consider myself “into fitness” my entire life, but more fitness prioritized as of 2014!

How did you get into fitness?

I actually powerlifted in Spain while studying abroad before college. I loved it and once I came home to America I realized that I didn’t want to live a party lifestyle in college, I really wanted to change my body. I went away to school and started endlessly researching nutrition and exercise. I slowly and steadily lost body fat and completely transformed my physique. By the summer of 2015, I began my first competition prepped and placed top 2 when I competed that October. I fell more in love with bodybuilding than ever and it hasn’t stopped!

What was a turning point for you to take it seriously?

Studying abroad in Spain and realizing that I didn’t need to party to have fun. Once I got back to America and realized how much I wanted to change I stopped wanting and just did it!

How has fitness impacted your life?

Fitness has made me closer with so many great people. It introduced me to my loving boyfriend. It made me closer to my family. It showed me I am capable and worthy of so much. It showed me who my true friends are. Fitness has changed my life and my mindset for the better in every way possible. Without bodybuilding I would not be living the same life.

What words of advice or encouragement would you like to give to someone who is just starting out or would like to start but doesn’t know where to begin?
You are capable of so much if you simple envision it. Keep practicing discipline. There are days you won’t have the motivation but you just have to keep pushing… it will be so worthy once you prevail.

 

Instagram: @rachelricha

B.S. in Kinesiology and Nutrition

Top 10 National Bikini Competitor and @Steelfitusa Affiliate athlete

 

Kent Gresham

Tell me a little about yourself and your background?

I was born and raised Athens, GA. I am an ACE Certified Personal Trainer and ACE Fitness Nutrition Specialist. Helping people has always been my passion and I saw personal training as a way to fuel my passion.

I specialize in strength training, muscle building, weight loss, mobility, post-orthopedic rehabilitation and myofascial release techniques.  I have also trained clients with a broad age range and varying goals, from ages 12-70 years old. This included student athletes, powerlifting, boxing workouts, general fitness clients, half marathon/marathon training, and clients with physical disabilities.

What aspect of fitness do you enjoy the most?

For a lot of people, I think they enjoy the physical parts of fitness the most: getting stronger, faster, leaner, or more muscular.

For me it’s the mental aspects of fitness.

In order to make any type of physical progress or reach any goal, you must first decide in your mind what you “want” to accomplish.

Make sure it’s something you really “want”, not just something you’ve briefly thought about or something you simply “like the idea of”. Because when you really want something you will do everything in your power to make it happen!

How long have you been into fitness?

Since I was 4 years old and I am now 27.

I have a personal trainer for the past 7 years.

How did you get into fitness?

To be honest, it all started when I joined my dad one day during his morning routine of push-ups. I was hooked ever since.

What was a turning point for you to take it seriously?

In the year 2000, my dad had open heart surgery. He had nine blockages in his heart; seven of which he had removed. At that point I knew that I needed to take my health seriously, so I started making changes in my diet and increased my workout intensity in the years that followed. (Yep I made that decision at 10 years old.)

How has fitness impacted your life?

It kept me out of trouble as a kid, been a source of stress relief, allowed me to change people’s lives for the better and has always been an outlet for me when everything seems to be going wrong. It’s always the one thing I can do right.

What words of advice or encouragement would you like to give to someone who is just starting out or would like to start but doesn’t know where to begin?

It’s never too late to start working on your body and your health. Maybe you have made excuses or possibly have had valid reasons of why you have been putting your health and fitness aside.

But all you have to do is get up and start moving. I don’t care if it’s walking down the hall and back, it’s still something.

The best advice I have is ”do what you can do”.

Don’t ever compare yourself with anyone else because they aren’t doing the work for you. Rather, work as hard as you can work, put forth all the effort you have.

And when you do this, you are successful every day!

Kenton Gresham (@swollbaby23)

Personal Trainer and Fight Club Instructor at Athens Health and Fitness

(@athenshealthandfitness)

Ezra Freelove

Tell me a little about yourself and your background?

As a computer geek, I am a professional student of systems and processes. That brings a curiosity into how things work both individually and in the cascade of effects throughout the system. I mostly played soccer as a kid and was outside almost every day back then. And I did a couple years of Karate. As an adult, I was super sedentary in front of a computer 12-20 hours a day.

What aspect of fitness do you enjoy the most?

Working out centers my mind and provides a calmness that I did not expect. I mean, I heard others talk about feeling good, but I suspected they were already happy people. Working in a stressful environment, fitness provides a place to change the brain chemistry. I definitely feel happier after a stressful day and even sense the need to get back to the gym when I have been away more than a few days.

How long have you been into fitness?

The weightlifting has been for the past three years. I also enjoy the occasional hike which has been for as long as I remember. I tried to get into jogging, but I despised it. That is how I tried weightlifting.

How did you get into fitness?

Really, I was dragged into it kicking and screaming. I was diagnosed as pre-diabetic (type II) almost a decade before getting the really diabetic one over 3 years ago. My diet was terrible. My life mostly consisted of sedentary sitting in front of a computer both at work and home. My weight would swing from 275 to 315 and back.

What was a turning point for you to take it seriously?

Armed with the diagnosis, I had to start exercising more or the bad things would happen. My doctor wanted me being active 30 minutes a day, three days a week. I started walking / jogging up to about an hour, but that was killing my feet. My doctor recommended building muscle as they would drink up the sugar in my system. Fat also messes with the blood chemistry to resist insulin, making the insulin less effective. So I came to the gym looking to cut fat and gain strength.

How has fitness impacted your life?

My doctors are pleased with my medical status. The sugar level is where it ought to be. My heart and kidneys are fine. The damage to my eyes is reversing. I feel happy and less stressed all the time.

What words of advice or encouragement would you give to someone starting out or would like to start but doesn’t know where to begin?

Find a friend who is serious about what you want to try doing. Tag along. Observe their form and ask questions. Make sure to get a number of perspectives. We each have our own goals and methods to get there, so feel free to pick and choose what works for you. Finally, if it hurts or you feel terrible about what you are doing, then do not beat yourself up about trying to fix the form or even trying something else.

Ezra Freelove (@sneezypb)

Tayler Jordan

To be completely honest, I’m not very good with talking about myself so I prefer to think how I would want someone else to perceive me. When asked about Tayler Jordan, I would want someone to say,

Being born and raised in small-town, Alabama would disable many, but that was never an excuse to keep her from striving toward big aspirations. Rarely was opportunity ever knocking at the back door growing up, so there is no doubt that burning passion to inspire others along with strong faith drove her to where she stands today.

 Her purpose is to share the reality that health, fitness, and well-being can create feminine, radiant beauty. This beauty starts on the inside and shines on the outside. Living with a desire to have radiant beauty has developed a charisma about her that many describe as a “special sparkle”. 

 She implements this mentality through her every day life in several ways; sometimes by offering words of encouragement, providing educational content on social media, or maybe even as simple as flashing a genuine smile to a stranger.  She understands the smallest gesture can make the biggest impact.

 As The Sparkle Spreader, she is compelled to pursue her dream of spreading a special light all around the world. What began as a passion has evolved into a large opportunity for impact. Now she travels as an IFBB Bikini Pro and works as a Physique Transformation Coach at Mi40 Gym and Sponsored PEScience Athlete. She also represents CJ’s Elite Suits, Better Bodies clothing line, and Six Pack Fitness. Although she has already come a long way, she is more motivated now than ever to broaden her reach in order to impact even more individuals on a grander scale.”

My best advise…

Living happy and healthy looks different for everyone. My best advice it to adopt sustainable habits that fit well into your lifestyle while helping you reach your goals. And although you may have a single, ultimate goal, remember that the individuals you were able to impact along the journey are the most important part.

Instagram: @taylerjordanfit

IFBB Bikini Pro and trainer at @mi40_gym

Minh Ta

Tell me a little about yourself and your background?

I was raised in West Seattle by a family with a low-income. Growing up in poverty and in the projects has made me how strong I am today and to fight every day of my life. As I grew older, it was harder for my family to raise me with 3 other siblings to look after, so I ventured off and then was adopted at the age of 17 by my current loving family. They provided stability, enabling me to find my passion in life.

What aspect of fitness do you enjoy the most?

I enjoy the daily challenges aspect of fitness. One day it can be physically challenging and the next mentally challenging, but I feel a sense of personal fulfillment when I overcome both these challenges. Fitness to me is the fuel I use to live life because I love and enjoy inspiring others to invest into their confidence, beliefs, and health.

How long have you been into fitness?

I’ve been into fitness about 3 years total. I started lifting back in 2012 but then had a knee surgery which took a year to recover and then continued 2014-2017.

How did you get into fitness?

I lifted for the first time back in 2012 and I remember walking out the gym feeling mentally, physically, and emotionally drained but also a true sense of accomplishment. From that day forward, I told myself I will never stop.

What was a turning point for you to take it seriously?

After my patella surgery and I couldn’t walk for a year. I remember every day, for 365 days straight, I told myself that when I get back on my feet I will grind as hard as I can to prove to myself I can achieve any physique I want.

How has fitness impacted your life?

Fitness is my life. As crazy as it may sound I eat, sleep, think, live, and breathe fitness. All my friends are involved and I can’t stop thinking about my macros every time I pick up something to eat. It has pushed me mentally to the extreme and now after placing in finals for my first men’s physique competition, I want to earn my IFBB PRO card.

What words of advice or encouragement would you like to give to someone who is just starting out or would like to start but doesn’t know where to begin?

“Grind To Be Legendary”. In addition, follow me. From a kid in poverty, adopted, knee surgery, to placing finals in men’s physique, I share my whole journey on my page and leave not a single detail out. I personally live to inspire others.

Instagram: @legendary_physique

2x Nationally Qualified Competitor

Founder of L.P.M. (LegendaryPhysiqueMovement.com)

 

Sarah Murphy

Tell me a little about yourself and your background?

My name is Sarah Murphy. I am a 24 year old junior doctor. While studying in college, I joined my first gym. And I ended up having a passion for it. I was never particularly ‘sporty’ as a kid (although I wasn’t inactive), but I developed a love for working out and exercise while in my 20s.

What aspect of fitness do you enjoy the most?

I enjoy a few things – I like the feeling of pushing myself and achieving things I didn’t think my body could do. And I always enjoy the post-workout endorphin rush!

How long have you been into fitness?

I have been into fitness since I was about 19, so five years ago.

How did you get into fitness?

I was lucky that my university opened a brand new gym on campus in my second year, with free membership for all students. So there was no reason not to attend! But I ended up developing a passion for it a little while after joining!

What was a turning point for you to take it seriously?

The turning point was about two years ago. I was studying for an exam all summer and not doing anything else, so I got very invested and serious about the gym as an outlet!

How has fitness impacted your life?

It has changed my life hugely – I feel strong and healthy. It has improved my outlook on myself as a person and my capabilities. And through Instagram, I have had the pleasure of meeting with and collaborating with a huge array of amazing people!

What words of advice or encouragement would you like to give to someone who is just starting out or would like to start but doesn’t know where to begin?

To just start. It doesn’t have to be big, you don’t have to have a huge plan. You just have to start! A great way to start is to join a gym and hire a PT or attend scheduled classes. They can help to get you into a routine, as well as give you tips on correct form etc! And most importantly, do something you like!

Sarah Murphy (@sarah.j.murphy)

 

Alice Guzman

Tell me a little about yourself and your background?

I’m a 24 year old college student currently attending the University of Georgia, double majoring in International Business and Management, and minoring in Spanish. I’ve moved around quite a bit in my lifetime, but I’m now residing in Athens, GA, and I plan on staying here for quite some time. Something I like to live by is making sure that I try everything, even if it’s just once, because I don’t ever want to look back on life and wonder “what if”. I think it’s important to live life to the fullest and get as many experiences as possible 🙂

What aspect of fitness do you enjoy the most?

It’s hard to choose just one thing about fitness that I like the most (because there are just so many perks) but if I had to pick just one, I think it’d have to be the feeling after a great workout. One can go in feeling stressed and tired yet coming out feeling refreshed and optimistic. The endorphins and the “high” that you get after giving your all in a workout is seriously the best feeling ever!

How long have you been into fitness?

When I was younger, I absolutely hated working out. My dad literally used to have to bribe me to go outside and play basketball. Even so, I grew up playing soccer, softball, and basketball in elementary and middle school. As I got older, I would always go through ups and downs in my fitness journey. I’d get really motivated and work out every day as well as watch my nutrition for a certain period of time (usually no more than 2 or 3 months) and then I’d go back to my static lifestyle. I consistently started working out and have decided to make this a lifestyle change since November of 2016, and I plan on keeping it up for the rest of my life 🙂

How did you get into fitness?

The first time I seriously started getting into working out was my senior year in high school. I was overweight and extremely unhappy, so my roommate at the time and I decided to have a competition over the school year to see who could lose more weight. We both started jogging together and dieting (A LOT) and I became fascinated with not only exercise, but nutrition too. I lost about 40 lbs in 3 months, which wasn’t entirely healthy. I also didn’t make any changes that could be applied the rest of my life, so after the competition finished, I slowly started all gaining the weight back that I had lost. After that, it was a constant on and off journey with working out, until I discovered Fight Club at The Omni Club in Athens and decided to incorporate this into my everyday lifestyle.

What was a turning point for you to take it seriously?

After I was introduced to Fight Club/boxing, I immediately fell in love. Even so, life struggles and bad habits got in the way, so I didn’t immediately make the choice to do it consistently. Eventually though, I hired a personal trainer (who is AWESOME) and has greatly impacted my fitness journey.

The turning point for me was during one of our sessions. I still had terrible eating habits and only worked out about two times per week. I always told myself that I was “too busy” or “too overwhelmed” to make time for meal prepping and working out more often. During one of our sessions, my trainer and I were talking about his life and how he has so much going on. He has his own business, a second job, relationships, family, church responsibilities, etc, and he STILL has time to meal prep and work out very consistently. I remember looking at him like he was Superman and asking, “But how? How do you do all of these things and still have time to work out?” I remember him looking back at me and simply answering, “Priorities. Working out and watching my nutrition is one of my main priorities, so making time for it isn’t optional.” After he said that to me, something in my head just clicked. I knew that I needed to change the order of my priorities to make my health and my happiness something that I made time for on a daily basis. Ever since then, I haven’t stopped!

How has fitness impacted your life?

Fitness and nutrition has pretty much changed every aspect in my life in a positive way. I mold my entire schedule around my workouts now. I’m happier, healthier, more confident, STRONGER… It’s just great, overall. And on top of all of that, the friendships that I’ve made along the way are irreplaceable. It’s so great to have people at the gym cheering you on and vice versa, and it’s the best feeling ever to know that your trainers are with you 100% of the way. I wouldn’t change it for the world.

What words of advice or encouragement would you like to give to someone who is just starting out or would like to start but doesn’t know where to begin?

There’s so much to say! Start small. Don’t just dive in and expect to immediately get it. Make little changes, one at a time. Set realistic goals, and once you achieve them it’ll give you way more motivation to keep going! Another important thing is to take LOTS of pictures. Do not rely on the scale!!! The scale will lie to you, but the pictures won’t. Also, don’t just work out just to burn calories. Find something you love to do! Get out of your comfort zone. It’ll be super hard to keep it up the rest of your life if you’re exercising but hate it. And last but not least, YOU’VE GOT THIS! Losing weight takes time, and this is something that I still have to remind myself of every day. But as long as you stay consistent and keep trying, you will be able to achieve all of your goals!

Alice Guzman (@aliceinwonderland.923)

Ken “Hulk” Terrell

Tell me a little about yourself and your background?

My background is a bit odd for someone in this industry. I graduated from B.C. undergrad in 1997 and cum laude from Georgetown University Law Center in 2000. I practiced law for eight years, played professional poker for three, was a bartender for two, and then began working as a trainer at The Omni Club. Six years later, I am now the General Manager of Athens Health and Fitness.

What aspect of fitness do you enjoy the most?

I don’t know that I could narrow this down to just one thing. I love moving heavy weight and seeing how strong I can be into my 40’s (my PR for all three major lifts was set at the age of 40). But I have also grown to love running and training for OCR events. I guess I could say that what I love most about fitness is what I am capable of and then pushing to expand and exceed those limits.

How long have you been into fitness?

I was very fit back in law school, but eight years as an attorney and three years playing poker for a living resulted in a lot of weight gain. It was a very sedentary and unhealthy lifestyle. I started my weight loss journey in March 2011, began working at a gym in the summer of 2012, and started running OCR events in 2013.

How did you get into fitness?

On March 24, 2011, I was playing with my son and his friends in the backyard at his birthday party and had to sit down. I was struggling to breathe, sweating like a pig, and thought I was going to be sick and he was only five years old. I realized then that if I didn’t make a change, I was going to be watching him from the sideline instead of as an active participant in his life. I was 275ish pounds with a 40 inch waist. I started the next day.

What was a turning point for you to take it seriously?

I had a two different turning points. The first was the one mentioned above playing with my son in the backyard. The second came when I was asked by a client to run a Spartan race in March 2013. I was instantly hooked. It changed my approach to fitness from just exercising/working ou to training for a specific purpose.

How has fitness impacted your life?

It has become my life. I went from being fat and out of shape to being healthy and fit to being an athlete to being a personal trainer to being the General Manager of the gym.

What words of advice or encouragement would you like to give to someone who is just starting out or would like to start but doesn’t know where to begin?

 Motivation isn’t going to be what gets results. Motivation is fleeting – it comes and goes. Dedication and determination are what gets results.

Think of it this way – we aren’t always motivated to go to work. We do it anyways because we are dedicated to the job and/or to getting our paychecks to pay bills and support our families.

There will be times you are motivated to workout and that’s wonderful, but there will be times you are not motivated. Do it anyways. Treat it like something important and dedicate yourself to doing what needs to be done.

The results are worth it.

And if you don’t know what you are doing, get help. I worked with a trainer and took Fight Club classes to make my initial transformation. It was well worth the time and money spent.

Instagram: @kenhulkterrell

General Manager of Athens Health and Fitness (@athenshealthfitness)

Simona Naujokaityte

Tell me a little about yourself and your background?

Hey, my name is Simona Naujokaityte. I was born in Lithuania but had a dream to live overseas and today, I finally live in the United States. One of the reasons why I love America so much is how many opportunities this country could give. A small country like Lithuania doesn’t really have anything good to offer. Being active is the way I live. My family laughs that before I started walking, I was running. I did a lot of things like kayaking, skiing, ice skating, playing hockey, snowboarding, and riding horses just for fun on my free time. For a time, I played tennis. But dancing and running track was the thing for years. But with time, track pushed dancing away and running became the thing that kept me alive. Half a year ago, I tried boxing and now, a day without it feels like punishment!

What aspect of fitness do you enjoy the most?

Like you probably already understood, running and boxing is what I love the most. To be specific about it, running hurdles are my babies!!! Also recently, I started lifting weights and this is becoming my new addiction!

How long have you been into fitness?

I’ve been into fitness my entire life. My mom put me on skies ever since I was 2 years old (haha), but personally I started taking it more serious when I started school. I started dancing when I just turned 7 and always did competitions for school. Whenever I turned 10 years old, I started training on track more seriously. I found a personal trainer, got into sports school and started running in competitions for both school or individually. Today, as I’m answering these questions, I’m celebrating my half year into boxing!

How did you get into fitness?

My way into fitness probably was my genetics, haha (My grandma was a runner and represented the country back in her glory days). To be serious, when school started we were told about dance classes after school and I decided to go. It was a very small first step. Having a flexible body lead me to be the first and help show my classmates how to do certain things in PE class. Teachers noticed that and started asking me to run for school in competitions. I realized the potential in myself, felt good doing it and decided to dedicate more of my time for this. That was the way to sports school and my weekends became booked by dancing shows and competitions. Later on, just competitions and it stayed like that till I graduated.

When I moved to Athens, it was supposed to be a temporary spot, so I had a lot of free time and the gym was down the street. Also, my roommate was trying to get in shape and this is how I crossed the gym doors. She had been boxing for a while already and invited me to join her, at least to try. I’m not gonna lie, I was scared to do it. Pretty sure I’m not gonna like it. When class started, I hated that I wanted to leave after 3mins but stayed till the end. As soon as we came back home I looked at my roommate and asked when we going to do it again. The feeling after class is not possible to describe in any words! I was tired but so alive from inside… and we started doing it daily 🙂

What was a turning point for you to take it seriously?

The turning point for taking it seriously was how it made me feel. I always felt emotionally better after workout. In a little bit I started seeing result and it was another turning point. When these two combined, it’s a life changing moment.

How has fitness impacted your life?

Fitness impacted my life in all possible ways. It was my strength when I got sick; it was my motivation to do anything I have. It was my best medicine whenever I was emotionally down. I would just leave all my concerns, worries and pain in that workout. Also, it made me super close with Grandma. She always understood and supported me no matter what. When I hit a flat period with my results and was getting mad at myself, giving up, she would always build me up and inspire me. From fitness topic, it led us to all the other ones and she became my best friend, my mom, my queen, my ride or die, my most important person. And it was super hard on me when I left the country and moved to States all alone. Fitness connected me with my roommate and now we are like one! I honestly consider my roommate like a part of me. I never had a sister but this friendship let me understand how it feels to have one 🙂 We might not have the same blood but other than that, it’s not a joke we have same feelings, same thoughts (even bruises at the same spot) at the same time! Also, fitness allowed me to have a family again. Strength and Strike fitness crowd became not just people who work out together, but the family! I got blessed with all of it just because of fitness.

What words of advice or encouragement would you like to give to someone who is just starting out or would like to start but doesn’t know where to begin?

At first it, will be hard. Seems to be not worth all that pain and struggle but keep pushing. Don’t give up, believe in yourself and don’t quit. Quitting lasts forever and you don’t want that. Push thru that hard period and then you will see how any hard period will be pushed for you. You will see how life is changing to a better one and that word fitness is not just a physical activity, its way more than that. It’s the best of what could happen to you!

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