Nancy doing what she does best
I wanted to share with you the person who helped jump start my weight loss after my third baby. I was slowly losing the weight by my average cardio workouts on the machines, but I wasn't doing it quickly or seeing the toned results I was hoping for. Then I joined the Recess class at Prairie Life Fitness led by Nancy Strickland. She taught me right away that in order to get the most out of my sweat sessions I was going to have to push myself. She always talks about taking people out of their comfort zones for brief moments (interval training); as the sweat is dripping and the heart is pounding she yells, "stay out of your comfort zone!" Yes Nancy, I am!!
Nancy is an inspiration to me because she is always full of energy and kindness. It takes a lot to motivate a bunch of tired gym-goers at 9 in the morning, but she does it everytime. So I wanted to talk with her about how she became so involved in fitness, and how she can help other people the way she has helped me.
What made you want to become a trainer? Well, I've been involved in sports since I started swimming competitively at 6. So I always carried a workout ethic with me, and when I was in high school I knew 2 things: I wanted to help people and I didn't want to sit at a desk. So I decided to get a B.A. in exercise science and over the years worked as a fitness and aquatics director, personal trainer, swim instructor, group fitness instructor, and a certified swim and triathlon coach.
Why triathlons? I've been doing them for over 20 years. I had a really strong background in swimming and wanted to pursue other areas, so I worked on my running and biking and found over time that I was competitive in all three areas. I love doing them, I love training for them, I love helping other people train for them.
Why is exercise so important? I've always been into fitness, and I've always been in pretty good shape. It's just a natural part of life to me. I love being outside, so if it's 70 degrees out I just feel the need to be out there biking or going for a run. I'm not an exercise nazi, I don't beat myself up for skipping a day or doing a light day; I've never been like that. I understand how it can be hard to motivate yourself to workout everyday, and I definitely see how people not directly working with fitness can struggle to keep doing it. I'm lucky I guess, since I work in a gym and so pretty much, it's a no brainer. I'm held accountable because I teach people how to stay healthy. I love varying my workouts so that one day I might do a jog for 30 minutes, and another I might do an intense interval session on the treadmill and then a leisurely swim for 45 minutes. (Note to self: pat myself on the back when I can call a 45 minute swim leisurely.) Working out doesn't have to be crazy and intense 100% of the time. You have to listen to your body. In fact, one thing I've come to realize over the years is how much of a role nutrition plays in being healthy. You can exercise for hours but unless you have good nutrition, you're not getting the full results.
Tell me about nutrition. For the longest time, I was under the assumption that if I exercised, and if I was at a good weight, then I was healthy. I literally thought that because I was so into fitness, I could eat whatever I wanted. People called me the human garbage disposal. But of course I had a good metabolism from exercising, so I burned a lot of calories, but it never occurred to me to think about what I was actually feeding my body. I used to get bronchitis about 2-3 times every single year, and I just thought, what a bummer.. I never thought something like nutrition could help me overcome that.
What made you focus more on nutrition? One season I had just finished a triathlon, gotten bronchitis, and was then doing the MS 150. I was complaining about my sickness to a friend who suggested I listen to this CD about how nutrition can help your immune system. I literally rolled my eyes and although I took it, I thought I'd never listen to it. But for some reason I did, and I can tell you that was one of the big transitions in my life. You know, you go to college, get married, you have kids; those are the main transitions in life. For me, this was a major a-ha moment and it was like, wow, a whole new world opened up to me. I started learning about the importance of eating whole foods and what an impact our diet has on us from building immune systems to raising antioxidant levels. Things that had just flown over my head for some reason. I was excited.
So what was the CD you listened to? It was from Juice Plus, a company who's products I've now sold for 6 years because I love what they have done for me. I don't push them, I just have a passion for sharing all of the great things I've learned and gained. For instance, I don't get bronchitis anymore. For something that was a huge pain in my life for so many years to just go away, I knew I was on to something. The CD was about how important it is to eat whole foods and get the nutrients the Earth intended for us. We can't get all that eating processed junk, and I just love that eating healthy is so simple. Just eat real, whole foods. It's so much simpler than people think.
Where can people find you for personal training? Of course I train here at Prairie Life, but I also do online coaching. It's a website called 3 Sport Fitness, and it's me and another trainer who offer all kinds of services. Basically, it's $60 a month for me to give you a full month's worth of workouts, whatever your fitness goal may be. If you want to train for your first 5K or your first Ironman, or if you simply want to lose weight, or work on your swimming skills. Whatever your goal, I work with you to provide you with a plan you can do on your own. I break it down to the daily workouts, so you have someone holding your hand through your entire month of training. And I keep track of your progress, building each month on your strength and endurance. It's a great alternative to personal training sessions because those start at $55 per session. We pride ourselves on being simple and affordable, because we both have a passion for what we do. It's important for me to help people reach their goals.
Do you help with nutrition too? Yes, as a member you have access to articles and advice about both fitness and nutrition. In fact, I'm working on one now about eating whole foods. You also get periodic emails with tips and motivation, and access to video training tips.
Nancy is someone who radiates fitness, and to be a good leader you have to constantly be providing motivation and inspiration. I highly recommend getting in touch with her if you have certain goals you want to reach but aren't sure how. She loves spreading her knowledge and helping people overcome hesitations about fitness or 5Ks or Ironmans. Before I did my first 5K I had no idea what a sense of accomplishment there is from finishing a race, or how much confidence I would gain in the 'fitness' part of me. Fitness is a lifestyle, and I thank Nancy for helping me realize that.