Tell me a little about yourself and your background?
My name is Anna McDaniel, I am 22 years old and currently in my last year of college studying sport management! A little bit about me, I am half Greek, half Scottish but consider myself to be 100% Greek because of the way I grew up. I can speak Greek fluently. I have a younger sister who is my best friend and who also attends the same school as me; you can tell we are very close. I have a HUGE family; a big, fat, Greek family who I love with all my heart. My mother and my grandparents are my rocks, they have pushed me to become the woman I am today. I have little random tattoos that represent who I am: fun, free, tough, loving and caring. I love my tattoos and I am excited to get even more.
What aspect of fitness do you enjoy the most?
I LOVE helping people who were once in my shoes. I think that is the best part of fitness. If I was not doing what I was doing today, then I would just be “going to the gym.” I enjoy pushing my body over the limit, learning more about what I can do, accomplishing new goals and then putting them all on my clients. My motto is: If I can do it, you can do it. I share my past experiences with my clients in order to push them to be the best them because if I could get up and start walking again when I was at my worst then so can they.
How long have you been into fitness?
When I was 9 years old my father brought me to a local Gold’s Gym, lied to them by telling them I was 13 and got me a membership. Since then, I have been in love with fitness and feeling strong. I have played sports my entire life (soccer, basketball, football) but weightlifting and being in the gym atmosphere/environment has always felt different than being on the court or field. Since then, my passion for fitness has grown and expanded.
How did you get into fitness?
When I was a kid, my dad was a competitor. All of his friends competed as well. I wanted to look like those strong women. At 9 years old, I was so infatuated with the human body and with how you can make it look differently by doing different movements. My father taught me many things and I had a personal trainer for a while too who taught me how to create a proper routine but my true passion for fitness did not come in to play until after my injury in high school. When I was a sophomore in high school, I was playing in a basketball scrimmage, jumped up, and then felt a crack in my lower back. I was instantly in pain but of course kept pushing. Later that night, I went to the gym to workout. I had heavy deadlifts that night. After a couple reps, my back did it again and I was in even more pain. I recognized that pain and stopped. The next morning, I could not walk. I was later diagnosed as partially paralyzed from the waist down. Partially paralyzed meaning that I could feel EVERYTHING but could not move. I was in constant pain for 9 months. I lost all hope for myself. That was a time where I was at my worst mentally, physically and emotionally. But after those 9 months, my grandmother took me to a chiropractor and he saved me forever. With only a few appointments in, I could walk again, and the pain was subsiding. I reached a point in my young life where I would cry every morning because I woke up, I did not want to wake up anymore. Once I hit that point, God brought me my wonderful grandmother and I thank him every day for this miracle. I learned so much from that experience and since then, I have pushed myself and others to not give up, to keep moving forward. There is always a light at the end of that dark tunnel.
What was a turning point for you to take it seriously?
When I could walk again, that was my point to take fitness and life in general seriously. I prayed every day to be able to walk again and I did. I never took advantage of that gift again. Some were given a perfect body, some were not- so if your body is perfectly healthy then never take advantage of it because those who are not healthy would kill for your body; I know that first-hand.
How has fitness impacted your life?
Fitness has impacted my life in the most positive ways. I have gained more confidence than I ever have, I have created this wonderful business and am changing people’s lives daily. The satisfaction of seeing my clients reach their goals are beyond words. I am most happy when I am in a weight room, pushing either myself or a client to kill that last rep.
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?
Just do it. Seriously. It is as simple as that. Start at a local gym, YouTube videos on proper form, get a trainer, research on how to create a functional routine and just do it. Do not have doubts, do not tell yourself you can’t do something because you can. Set goals- actually write them down, give them deadlines and push yourself to achieve them.