NAC member, Kara McWilliams tells us about her fitness journey thus far.. and about when she realized while on a business trip that her suit no longer fit, who’s goal is no longer to be as skinny as possible, and who proudly lifts like a girl.

Prior to beginning my fitness journey I felt like I did not have enough, or the right, energy in any aspect of my life. Something was missing in my relationship, my friendships, and in my career. I realized that I did not have enough energy to appropriate to all of these areas of my life and because of this I was becoming an increasingly negative person. I was constantly sluggish and as a result I was tired and had a negative attitude. Additionally, I had struggled with body image issues since I was a young woman. I made the decisions to take control of both my lack of energy and my body image issues by focusing on my health.

IMG_0121My initial goal was to stay committed to the gym for longer than three months (the typical length of time my “gym phases” would last). This all changed after member services suggested I meet with Katie. When I first met with Katie to discuss my goals, I shared my goal of trying to stay committed and beyond that I guess I wanted to lose weight. I assumed that if I lost weight I would feel better about myself and that would naturally impact other areas of life. Katie helped me realize that our time together would not be all about losing weight. Rather, we would focus on increases. We were going to increase my stamina, my strength, my energy, and most importantly we were going to work on my self-confidence. By the end of my initial meeting with Katie the goals/results I was looking for were three fold (1) to feel better about myself, (2) to be able to live a fuller, happier life, and (3) to be able to lift heavy shit.

The first steps I took were (1) joining the gym and (2) working with the amazing member experience team to partner me with Katie. I was never able to commit to a gym for any length of time – typically because I was overwhelmed. The member experience team curbed any of those concerns. My real first steps though began when I started working with Katie. One of the things that I appreciate the most about Katie is her ability to truly understand the people she is working with; who they are, and what they need to succeed. Katie quickly learned that I am very analytical and she approached our work together in that way. To that end, we started my journey by thinking through a plan. Though I was working with Katie weekly, she ensured that we developed a holistic approach to my health. She set me up with Kelly, the NAC’s amazing nutritionist to discuss how I can approach my diet more healthfully.  Katie also helped me think through appropriate group exercise class that would complement my training, and she set me up with an application for my iPhone where she could send me training plans during the times I was not with her and communicate with me throughout the week to see how things were going and offer advice and encouragement.

I have definitely had a lot of help along the way. Certainly my husband’s support has been integral to my commitment to my health and wellbeing. Beyond his support everyone I have encountered at the NAC has helped me in some way. From Meagan’s huge smile greeting me at the front door, to Christina’s constant words of encouragement, to Amy’s positive reinforcement in her crazy Friday morning NACfit class, everyone has been a core component to any progress I have made. Though, of course, no one deserves my gratitude more than Katie. She is not only helping me turn my body into something I never thought it could be, but more importantly she is altering my mindset and giving me a sense of confidence and self-empowerment that I didn’t even know I could have.

The turning point in my journey (thus far) was about three weeks ago when I was on a business trip and I had to give a presentation in front of a large group of people. I had packed my “special suit” that I only wear for these types of meetings. The morning of my meeting I put my suit pants on and they fell right off of me. After I got over the initial concern of having to give my presentation pants-less, I realized how far I had come in my journey. You see, when I first started working with Katie, I stopped obsessing over my waist line, and I even stopped weighing myself. My goal was no longer to be as skinny as possible; it has shifted to being as strong as possible. It was at the very moment that my pants were falling off of me that I realized losing all that weight was an awesome byproduct of deadlifts, pull-ups, and sled pushes and I didn’t even have to obsess over it. Though I didn’t have time to go shopping before my presentation that day, as I was poking a new hole in my belt to hold those pants up it reinvigorated my commitment to my health.

There have certainly been road barriers on this journey. There have been plenty of Friday mornings when I wanted to skip Amy Marino’s NACfit class because I had had one (or five) too many glasses of wine at Thursday happy hour. There have been days where I thought – eh, 20 pound weights are heavy enough today, even though I knew I could do 25.

I sincerely feel like both, the members and the staff at the NAC are all one huge support system. I know if I sleep through NACfit Megan will give me a side eye when I come in the door later that day, or if Krista sees me using 15 pound weights I know I am going to hear “everything in this class is heavier than 15 pound weights for you”. If Katie hears me complain about the four plates she has on the sled, instead of taking one off she sits on top of the stack and tells me to push! While, at the time, this seems exhausting – it really is because all of these people know I can do it and are helping me be the best me I can.

Unfortunately I can’t identify one thing that is most different about my life right now because in almost all aspects of my life I feel like a completely different person than I did six months ago. The amount of energy I have now doesn’t even compare to before I began this journey. My relationships are more positive, my performance at work has improved, and I am generally a more positive, happier person. Going to the gym has become the highlight of my day rather than something I try to avoid. I guess most significantly is that I have never felt so strong, so powerful, and like I can do anything.

Katie is the best because of her ability to read her clients and understand their goals, even if her clients aren’t so sure of what they are at the time. From there, her holistic approach to training, which extends far beyond the time that I am working with her, is key to a successful journey. Ultimately though, the primary reason that I am succeeding on my journey with Katie is because of her sincere attitude and genuine concern for the health and wellness of her clients, both when it comes to their bodies and their self-confidence.


Anything you would like to share with others or those thinking about beginning a fitness journey themselves?

Lift like a girl. It’s life changing.

As the member experience team worked with Kara to set her up with a plan and the tools she needed to meet her goals, they’re ready to meet with you and get you there too!