Fitness and health were things that weren’t always on the forefront of my mind or priorities, especially at a young age. I grew up a competitive dancer and was naturally a very lean girl. It wasn’t until puberty hit around the age of 13 that I started to notice myself growing in ways I was not comfortable with at all. I went from an estimated 125-135 lbs in middle school to finishing high school at 165-170 lbs (on the low end). The funny thing was that, mentally, I still pictured myself as how I was in middle school, super lean. I think this was my mind’s way of denying that I needed to change my daily habits. In my defense, I was dancing 3-4 times a week so I thought that had to be enough to keep me active and healthy at that age. Strength training and nutrition weren’t even considered at this time in my life.
Fast forward to the introduction of college and the start of major rejection and negative and/or lack of self-reflection. I auditioned for CSUF’s dance team and didn’t make it. This was the first time in my life I had felt a serious rejection while doing something that I knew I was naturally good at. I chalked it up to college dance programs only wanting to accept the stereotypical, femininely “pretty girls” (which was the exact opposite of what I was at the time) and not giving a fair shot to the rest of us. This could have been true, but I wasn’t even willing to self-reflect and consider that my technique needed cleaning and/or that my appearance didn’t reflect the type of dancer I should’ve projected myself to be for that particular audition.
Through this first bout of college I ended up withdrawing from CSUF and continuing my education at FCC in their dance department. This was the first time I was constantly moving and rehearsing so of course my body composition drastically changed. I started dropping weight so rapidly and everyone around me noticed. The constant feedback of my peers temporarily motivated me to continue going. But then I stopped. I started working numerous random jobs and even stumbled upon partnering on a business deal to open a local dance studio, but none of this was satisfying enough (not to mention still left me very much broke and borderline depressed).
I decided I wanted to go back to school and do it the right way for the first time in my life. I started casually weightlifting around the age of 22 after meeting my boyfriend and loved how empowered I felt lifting heavy weights. I even got certified as a personal trainer just to be able to join a company and start training people for side income but that of course fell through even before starting the dance studio. At this point in my life I was left to decide what route I wanted to take if I were to take my degree seriously; with the intent to start a career afterward. I had to pick between dance (my lifelong passion) or fitness (my recent hobby). I can’t lie and say that my decision wasn’t mostly determined by the job market for both of these careers. Logically, it made more sense to pick a major that had the potential to lead to numerous career paths and not limited ones so I picked Kinesiology.
At the start of my first semester in the Kinesiology program, I was dead broke, mentally exhausted and physically out of shape from not being in the gym due to a back injury sustained demonstrating a silly, trivial dance move (lol). I had to help run the dance business which included near-daily social media posts, daily practices, performances, choreography, and an upcoming grand opening while trying to balance school, getting a very limited salary from the dance studio, relationships (family/friends/boyfriend), and getting back into the gym. As you can imagine, this schedule included nightly binges, crying sessions, and thoughts of “What the hell am I doing and why the hell am I doing it?!” Meanwhile, my boyfriend is telling me what I knew I had to do all along. QUIT. But not quit school (obviously). Quit the place that I literally dreaded going to during this season. It was too much for me to handle with my new priorities. The studio became my worst nightmare at that time. I very abruptly decided to quit and didn’t go back.
Coincidentally, I saw a job opportunity for a kickboxing gym called 9Round and was so reluctant to apply. I hadn’t trained anyone in so long and I knew nothing about kickboxing to qualify me for this position. I felt like an imposter applying for it but something in my gut told me to do it anyway. I got the job and gained so much more than I could imagine after doing so. I gained a team of super helpful, qualified fitness mentors that have literally molded me into a completely different person in 4 months time. I started taking fitness seriously for the first time in my life minding things like nutrition, protein, calorie expenditure, etc. Things that the “old me” honestly didn’t even know about until school brought it to my attention. This gym just embodied everything I was learning about in school and complemented my life so well at the time.
Now, I am still working at the same gym and have 2-3 more semesters left before graduating with my bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science. I’ve lost 12 pounds and have made massive strength gains in the gym since joining the 9Round team. I partake in daily meditation to recenter myself to my purpose in life and take daily walks in the morning while listening to fitness-related podcasts. I’ve become that person that’s kinda annoying on Instagram but you really enjoy watching them (lowkey) because you’re amazed by their persistence. I’ve become a confident person who looks for opportunities to socialize and open myself up to the world instead of hermit crabbing it all day, everyday like before. I love my life in the season I’m in and cannot imagine what I would do if I hadn’t gone back to school. That was the game changer for me and the catalyst to this great life I now live. I am forever grateful for education! Stay in school, kids. 😉