"A transformation is not only of the body, it is of the mind & spirit."
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My relationship with fitness is dated, like we go way back to my early childhood years. Nonetheless it has continued to mold me into a better and renewed person year by year.
In elementary school my gym teacher, Mr.Mumau, had a profound impact on me and my capabilities in sports. I discovered I was naturally flexible, strong, and fast as I set records for fitness testing in pull ups, v-sit reach, long jump, shuttle run, etc. I quickly became the child who’s favorite class was “gym” and wanted to be involved in every activity available to me. Long story short, I pretty much did that and went on to earn the Presidential Physical Fitness Award all 12 years of combined primary and secondary schooling (1).
When college became a topic of conversation I wanted to move forward with becoming a physical education teacher myself. Around this time “real” life happened as some would refer to it and I ended up jumping right into the workforce to earn a living and pay for things like rent and utilities. I finally begin my educational pursuits at Mercyhurst University a few years later, deciding on a major in Human Resources that would further develop some of my other top skills such as organization, planning, and connecting with others.
Alas, this is where the highlight of my fitness/life transformation comes in, since high school I had been consistent with a running regimen but had only dabbled in the area of group fitness and strength training. In the last year of my undergrad I had secured employment at an office processing payroll that satisfied my organizational and people connecting needs but not my inner drive to express energy and movement. I was literally constrained to a desk 5 days a week, where I did sit on a stability ball I might add, but it just wasn't enough. For one of the first times since high school I had actually put on noticeable weight and felt depressed, I was just not.happy, not.happy, not.happy.at all.
Moving forward I knew I needed to change something about my busy school and work schedule but as so many can relate, I DIDN'T HAVE THE TIME TO WORKOUT…or did I? Tiffany, meet iRock Fitness, from here the rest evolved into a new beautiful history and chapter of my life. iRock Fitness at the time had just launched their offering of lunch time circuit training classes on MWF each week. I started devoting my lunch hours to both these classes and yoga on T/Th at the adjoining FitnessU facility. In the first 3 months of commiting to these classes I had an epitome, constantly asking myself, What am I doing? Why am I sitting at a desk? Who am I? What am I best at? The answers to all of these questions took me straight back to what I had a natural knack and love for, FITNESS 100%.
Within 6 months of my new workout routine I had shed the extra weight and had muscle tone and definition back that I had never achieved by running alone and truthfully hadn't seen since my team sports days*. Within 1 year of this change I started a personal training certification program with the American College of Sports Medicine, graduated with my bachelors in Human Resources while simultaneously declaring a Master of Science Major in Organizational Sports Leadership, QUIT my office job, and started working for myself through my own mobile personal training platform, TifFit12. By year 2 a huge progression had already occurred as I jumped on the opportunity to help the iRock Fitness owners and team introduce their new venture, Level Red Boxing to the Erie community. Shortly thereafter I accepted the role of becoming the GroupX Coordinator for their partner facility, Iron Oxygen Fitness. In 2 years, my life and visions had fulfilled themselves as I was truly able to eat.sleep.breathe fitness on repeat.
It truly is so much more than just that though, fitness is a general term and for each of us different ideas and meanings come to mind. For me, I see my best friends who are also coworkers and partners in this amazing industry, I see members turned to friends that are developing new habits and routines to change themselves for the better, I see endless opportunity and inspiration for anyone who has a goal to improve both their physical and mental health, In fitness I see the best version of me that I can offer the world and that will never stop being of utmost importance to me.
Fast forward to the present, a full 2 and ½ years later, and I am honored to contribute my story to a great friends, and fellow MU alums fitness blog, who I admire for her strength and ambition to also chase her dreams and never waste a single moment from any day that we are blessed with in life. My journey to making fitness my career lead me down such an amazing road with great opportunities to work alongside other individuals that are truly determined to apply their passions to life. I haven’t looked back and I never plan too. In Mercyhurst fashion, Carpe Diem!
*The pictures I used are from when I was getting ready to become Mrs.Duncan this past July 2017. I don’t have a lot of before/after or transformation type progress photos because that was never my primary goal in fitness nor did I experience massive weight loss at any point. The picture with the jean shorts and blue shirt does show a body composition change though. In 2014 on the left I was 115lbs with very little muscle tone, on the right it is 2017, I am 125-130 lbs with much more muscle. Proof that muscle weighs more than fat, it is totally possible you can maintain or lose inches while gaining muscle and definition, I am proof!
(1) “The Presidential Youth Fitness Program was launched in 2012 to phase out the Presidential Physical Fitness Test. This new program to assess student fitness levels now provides additional tools and resources to ensure students are fit for life. With an evolved approach, the fitness assessment has moved away from recognizing athletic fitness to providing a barometer on student’s health” Source: www.hhs.gov